In a message dated 2/8/2014 10:56:15 A.M. Pacific Standard
Time, Bobbie writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
I am a tracheotomy patient with difficulty speaking and
decided to learn ASL as a way to more easily communicate.
Doing this has inspired my 16 year old daughter to want to
become an ASL teacher as well as open a community center for
deaf children in our area (Acworth, Ga). I found your
website and am learning so much, as is my daughter, however
I am running into difficulty finding info for her as to how
to proceed on her career path. I have spent hours running
searches and they inevitably lead me to your website. I
know your are very busy, please if possible, could you point
us in any direction. I know she would be so excited to
receive any help or assistance. Her name is Victoria and
can be contacted at _________. Thank you again for your
time and consideration. AND your website (love it!)
I am frequently in the hospital because of my trach and have turned
numerous medical personnel onto your site.
If Victoria's career path is:
1. Become an ASL teacher
2. Open a Deaf Center
Then I would suggest she spend some time visiting the Gallaudet
University website: http://www.gallaudet.edu/ and particularly
And even more specifically the "Masters in Sign Language
Teaching" program at Gallaudet.
That is a long road to travel, sure, but it is the "high road."
I also suggest your daughter visit her local library and start
checking out books and materials and ask the Librarian about
inter-library loan (thus enabling a wider search and access to
more materials). Plus she should seek out and attend as many
local Deaf events as possible in order to meet and communicate
with Deaf people.
Your daughter will want to visit www.nad.org and read everything
at that site, and also www.rid.org -- in case she decides to
become an interpreter.
Opening a Deaf Center is a LOT of work. I did it once a couple
of decades ago. We (my wife and I and a few other impassioned
individuals) applied for 700 grants and got "2." It was enough
to buy a computer. Then when it was time to get the Deaf
community together in our mid-sized city we were frustrated to
see the amount of "strife" within the community that made it
hard for us to present a unified front to governmental funding
sources. Eventually I decided that rather than run a physical
Deaf Center I would instead focus my time creating online
resources for a world-wide audience instead via my website --
thus allowing me to put to good use my time and energy while
sidestepping much of the politics that accompanies any
leadership or organizational endeavor involving resource
allocation and funding.
Thus if Victoria wishes to open a (successful) "Deaf Center" she
is going to need to study up on "grant writing" and cultivate
multi-millionaire friends and associates. I do not say that
lightly. Lots of people want to "do good things" and open up
"centers." Few people lay the groundwork of 10 years of
networking and developing contacts with powerful people and
politicians who can actually make things happen.
In addition to studying sign language, learning about Deaf
culture, developing fluency in ASL, and making friends in the
Deaf world she will also want to consider majoring in business
or perhaps getting an MBA. There are lots of people that "sign
well" who would like to set up a "center" but who never manage
to do so because they lack the business skills. Public
Relations is another good field to major in.
Additionally she will need a "thick skin" and the ability to
navigate the sticky world of being an "outsider" perceived as
trying to ride in on a white horse to "help" or "save" people --
many of whom do not like the insinuation that they need to be
"helped" or "saved" in the first place. (Or worse, "fixed.")
Compare your daughter's situation to that of a "White" young
lady wishing to grow up to open up a "Center for Black
Children." Awkward eh?
That means Victoria will likely need to work toward being the
"ally" or "facilitator" but not the "leader." If she becomes
the "leader" of a "Deaf Center" and is "Hearing" she will become
a target. If however she becomes the "co-director" of a
"Bi-Cultural Center for Deaf Children's Literacy" or "Center for
Sign Language Interpretation Studies" -- that could be a much
more tenable public position.
Or she could expand the scope of her "center" to something
beyond just "deafness" and rather work to establish a resource
for parents whose children come from a wider variety of
challenges affecting oral/aural communication, (your own
situation comes to mind, also autism, aphasics, individuals with
down syndrome, and dozens of other conditions), which could be
benefited via the use of sign language and a "highly visual
Best wishes to you and your daughter,