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The Deaf Way II
Reader: Perspectives from the Second International Conference on Deaf Culture|
It is a place where anyone can contribute. We have employees, both deaf and hearing, who have technical expertise, and they focus on finding technical enhancements to improve the lives of deaf people. There are human service employees trying to improve lives, making sure that daily needs are being met, and making sure that people have equal opportunities to participate and receive services that they need. There are administrative and support employees who provide services that make all of the programs possible, the kind of internal services that help a company run. From the groundskeepers to the CEO’s office, we have a wonderful mixture of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people all working hand in hand toward the same goals and mission. Our employees are not only involved and committed to CSD but other organizations as well, providing support to them. Some are involved with the NAD. Some of them are involved on a local level, working with youth groups. Some volunteer their time in working in communities. They truly are role models for others, and it is a very beautiful thing to see. About forty of our employees are here with us at Deaf Way II. All of them have been very motivated about attending this event. You might see them here, proudly displaying their CSD shirts. They want to share their stories and knowledge with you, so take the time to visit with them and ask them to share their dreams and their experiences with you. I am sure they will be happy to do so.
There is no greater investment than in our youth. When I was on tour as the NAD president or in my travels on behalf of CSD and different communities, I truly enjoyed meeting many outstanding young deaf people, who were very articulate, intelligent, and destined to be our future leaders. Unfortunately, I believe we are not investing as much as we should in youth programs. CSD established a youth camp for leadership and literacy training. Joe Murray, who will be giving a presentation this week, has been involved with the WFD youth programs and with youth around the world, and I think this is a great investment for our youth today. How can we invest in these people in creative ways? We have found that our experiences with interns from Gallaudet, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), and California State University (CSUN) has been very inspirational. Many of these students have realized their potential, and they find a passion in life, not necessarily continuing their work with CSD, but continuing elsewhere in their lives in many different ways and areas. We need to continue those kinds of opportunities for youth. Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts college for deaf and hard of hearing students, has been doing many wonderful things. We do appreciate Gallaudet University’s efforts to empower and encourage deaf and hard of hearing people, not only here in America but also throughout the entire world. Also, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is a wonderful technical college for deaf students, where the NTID is one of seven colleges at RIT allowing deaf and hard of hearing students to learn more about technology and many other majors. CSUN is yet another fine university for deaf and hard of hearing students. All over the world, there are many other fine universities, which could provide an education to deaf and hard of hearing students. We just need to have a chance to have everyone work together to allow those investments in youth to take place. If there is not enough funding, we should find other creative ways to get the needed funding for youth programs. We need to explore ways that do not limit the opportunities for children to go to camp or to get an appropriate education, so that they may fully realize their potential.
As you can see, we have a rich history of accomplishment through the years. We have been involved in civil rights, trying to implement programs, establish goals, create opportunities, and improve many things. We have been trying to change the world by working together. CSD’s new slogan is actually “Changing the World Together.” We want to continue to work with new technology, address new challenges, and create new dreams. I often tell my staff that we are here today, not to benefit ourselves but to benefit others and to ensure that the future is better than what we have today. We have the responsibility and the obligation to establish a new direction for future generations by planning appropriately and by working together.