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Tracheotomy patient's daughter wishes to open a Center for Deaf Children:


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!) 
- Bobbie
I am frequently in the hospital because of my trach and have turned numerous medical personnel onto your site.


Dear Bobbie,
Hello :)

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: and particularly check out:
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 and read everything at that site, and also -- 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 learning environment."

Best wishes to you and your daughter,

Dr. Bill


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