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Two women who are deaf have risen to prominent positions alongside Barack Obama in the White House.

Leah Katz-Hernandez, 28, is one of the first people visitors encounter when they enter the White House. Informally known as the Receptionist of the United States - or Rotus - she is the first ever deaf person to hold that position. Her desk is just steps away from the Oval Office.    . . .   more about Leah Katz-Hernandez
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A colleague of Katz-Hernandez is Claudia Gordon, the first deaf African-American female attorney in the United States. She works at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and has held a previous post as a policy adviser for the Department of Homeland Security.    . . .   more about Claudia Gordon

Read more  . . . White House



OCTOBER 26, 2015

President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology letter report investigated age-related mild to moderate hearing loss.

Untreated, age-related hearing loss is a significant national problem. With the population 65 and older in the United States expected to reach 80 million in the next 25 years, the number of people with hearing loss will rise dramatically. Already, a quarter of adults between 60 and 69 years, more than half of adults between 70 and 79 years, and almost 80 percent of those older than 80 years have difficulty hearing – that’s almost 30 million Americans. Only a small fraction of this group seek out and use assistive hearing technologies, including hearing aids, and that rate is even smaller among low income and racial and ethnic minorities.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) believes there is an opportunity to enhance the pace of innovation, decrease cost, and improve the capability, convenience, and use of assistive hearing devices for individuals whose hearing has diminished in a mild to moderate way with age. Today, we delivered a letter report to the President, Aging America & Hearing Loss: Imperative of Improved Hearing Technologies, that examines these issues and includes several recommendations as part of our larger study about how technologies can help Americans remain independent as they age.

Read entire Summary

Read Full report (pdf)



White House - BlogWhite House
JULY 28, 2015

Summary: As the White House celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we’re announcing some new steps to help the government stay accessible to all Americans using the latest technology.

Technology has given us incredible new tools to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues, and all Americans should enjoy these benefits — including, and especially, those with disabilities.


For those with hearing or speech impairments, digital video and other tools have helped these communities stay connected and working, rather than isolated. So, as the White House celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we’re announcing some new steps to help the government stay accessible to all Americans using the latest technology.

We are pleased to announce that two agencies that routinely interface with the disabilities community — the U.S. Census Bureau and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — will soon be taking up direct video calling technology to allow Deaf citizens to communicate directly with American Sign Language (ASL)-fluent call operators there. This work responds to the President’s 2011 executive order calling upon agencies to use technology to improve customer service, and is another step in the right direction.

Why? In general, citizens who are deaf reach federal agencies via third-party interpreters who facilitate their conversations by interpreting to those on the other end of the line. But broadband and faster connections have made direct video calling not just possible, but commonplace. With this technology, the result can be a call that is direct, clear, and can allow Americans who are deaf to communicate in American Sign Language.

Read more  . . . White House Video Calling

March 27,2015

Anyone wanting to speak to the president must stop by her desk first. Leah Katz-Hernandez, 27, is the new White House receptionist.

She is also deaf.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and also to show that deaf people can do anything,” she said through an interpreter, who is provided for her at work.

With a desk just steps away from the Oval Office, Katz-Hernandez is usually the first to greet anyone — from world leaders to White House staff members — who has an appointment with the president or his top-level aides. She also oversees the White House guest book and the Roosevelt Room, the West Wing meeting room, and is responsible for collecting cell phones before meetings with the president.

See captioned video & Pictures



Thursday, September 12, 2013

White House Disability Update

Dear Friends,

In this White House Disability Update, you will learn about recent and upcoming Obama Administration efforts to advance equality, inclusion and access on behalf of the disability community.


Claudia L. Gordon
White House Office of Public Engagement

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Office of Communications

White House Highlights Americans with Disabilities Act “Champions of Change”

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, July 25th, the White House will honor eight “Champions of Change” who embody the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This next generation of leaders for the disability community represents the progress that has been made as a result of the ADA and the continued struggle for full equality. They are advocates, role models and true champions for their cause. Already extraordinarily accomplished, they epitomize the type of innovative thinking, optimism and energy of the next generation of civil rights leaders.

“These exceptional individuals being honored as Champions of Change illustrate the continuing disability rights movement’s vitality and bright future. They bring a fresh perspective and a new set of experiences that will continue to invigorate the push for full social and economic equality, “said Paulette Aniskoff, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement.

The White House Champions of Change program was created as part of President Obama’s “Winning the Future” Initiative. Through this program, the White House highlights individuals, businesses, and organizations whose extraordinary stories and accomplishments positively impact our communities.

To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a Champion,

Andrew Phillips
Silver Spring, MD

Andrew Phillips is the Policy Counsel at the National Association of the Deaf. He is responsible for providing analysis, recommendations, and counsel to the NAD on policy issues affecting deaf and hard of hearing people across the United States. Phillips is heavily involved with the NAD’s work on federal legislation and the rulemaking processes within various federal agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. After graduating from the California School for the Deaf (Fremont) and Gallaudet University, Andrew Phillips earned a J.D. at U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco where he was a member of the Hastings Science and Technology Law Journal, and was recognized as “Best Oral Advocate” in his Moot Court class, arguing on behalf of the District of Columbia in D.C v. Heller. Phillips is a former Congressional Intern of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and worked in her Capitol Hill office. Between college and law school he did an internship with the Director of Policy / General Counsel at the National Council on Disability. In his spare time Phillips enjoys playing soccer, hiking, rock climbing, surfing, scuba diving, and traveling. He has traveled on six different continents.

Lydia Brown
Melrose, MA

Lydia Brown is an Autistic and multiply-disabled disability rights activist, scholar, and writer. She is currently interning at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia in conjunction with the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program. She will be returning to the staff of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network as a Project Assistant this fall to continue her work in a variety of areas of disability policy. Lydia currently serves as Undersecretary for Disability Affairs at Georgetown University’s student government executive branch, where she is developing a comprehensive no wrong door policy to enhance access to resources for disabled students, providing technical assistance on web accessibility for the student government website, and also working to establish, develop, and sustain a Disability Cultural Center on campus. She is a member of the Board of Directors of TASH New England, the National Council on Independent Living Youth Caucus, and the Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Consumer Advisory Council. Lydia was the 2012 Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, where she worked on a project on customized employment for people with the most significant disabilities. She previously interned with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, where she also attended the inaugural Autism Campus Inclusion summer leadership academy. In 2011, Lydia served on the Adult Services Subcommittee of the Massachusetts Special Commission Relative to Autism, where she provided recommendations on autism and criminal justice related to legislation she has written, which has been filed in three consecutive sessions of the state legislature. She regularly speaks on disability rights activism, radical disability justice, and disabled cultural identity at conferences and universities across the country.

Zach Garafalo
Albany, NY

Zach Garafalo is the Assistant Director of YOUTH POWER! (YP!). YP! is a cross-systems advocacy organization that brings the voices of young people with disabilities to government officials in New York State. A skilled community organizer, Zach built a career focused mentoring program for youth with disabilities who are at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. Under Zach’s leadership, YP!’s mentoring program was recognized by the New York State Office of Mental Health for its positive impact on the social and emotional development on children and teens, their families and loved ones. Additionally, Zach has spoken extensively on engaging with marginalized youth and young adults, including in presentations to a United States Department of State delegation of young people from Belarus and transition-aged youth from the Netherlands. As a young person with ADHD and a learning disability, Zach has learned how to use his high energy levels to his professional advantage. In 2011, Zach was presented the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from his alma mater, Southern Vermont College. Zach is active in his community and serves on the Albany County Juvenile Community Accountability Board and as a member of the Board of Directors of Literacy New York Greater Capital Region. A tireless advocate for equality and opportunities for all, Zach consistently advocates for youth and young adults to have opportunities to provide input into service design and public policy discussions.

Anjali Forber-Pratt
Savoy, IL

Dr. Anjali Forber-Pratt has never let her paralysis distract her from her goals.  In addition to being a Paralympic medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, she has dedicated her life to helping other’s recognize their potential. Her motto, “Dream. Drive. Do.” embodies her spirit and positive attitude. Part of this drive came from her legal fight in high school for equal access to education. Since then, she has completed three degrees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In her quest to help other athletes with disabilities, Anjali has co-authored an educational kids’ coloring book about disabled sports. Abroad, she helped to develop and further Paralympic sport in Bermuda and Ghana and is actively involved in the world of disability sport across the United States. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Disabled Sports USA. She uses her public speaking platform to continue to make a difference for those with and without disabilities by sharing her story, helping to transform perceptions of what it means to be an individual with a disability, helping others accept their own differences and motivating others to take action in their own lives and communities. Anjali received the 2013 Paul G. Hearne award in recognition of her leadership to the disabled community given by the American Association for Persons with Disabilities.


Zoe Gross

Oakland, CA


Zoe Gross is a senior at Vassar College and the 2013 Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership. She became involved in disability advocacy through her work with the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. In 2012, Zoe created the annual Day of Mourning vigil, a national, cross-disability event which commemorates the lives of disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers. She continues to oversee and coordinate the event as a collaboration of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, Not Dead Yet, and the National Council on Independent Living, taking place annually with more than a dozen cities participating in holding local events. As part of the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program, Zoe interned on Senator Harkin's staff in the Senate HELP Committee Disability Policy Office. She is the co-president of ACCESS, Vassar's disabled student union. She is a Disability Studies major and is currently writing her senior thesis on the societal attitudes reflected in media coverage of murders of disabled people.


Ki’tay Davidson
Chicago, IL

Ki’tay Davidson is a social justice advocate and innovationist who creates models of inclusiveness to change the way people perceive and address the rights of persons with disabilities. Ki’tay specializes in international disability policy, social entrepreneurship and the school -to-prison pipeline for students of color with disabilities.  He fuses together coalition building and community empowerment to promote intersectional approaches to disability rights advocacy. Ki’tay is a proud alumna of the People for the American Way Fellowship Program and the U.S. International Council on Disabilities Youth in Development Program.

Anupa Iyer
Washington, DC

Anupa Iyer holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Seattle University School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles. She was awarded the 2011 Seattle University School of Law Leadership for Justice Fellowship to work for the Mental Disability Advocacy Center researching violence and abuse against women and girls with intellectual disabilities in Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to this, Anupa interned for Equal Employment Commissioner Chai Feldblum and was an American Association for Persons with Disabilities intern at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Anupa’s passion for disability rights advocacy stems from her lived experiences with a psychiatric disability. She is the founder of Self Advocates Now Empowered, a self-advocacy organization that uses legislative advocacy to give a cohesive national voice to, and empower, individuals with psychiatric disabilities, with a focus on youth and young adults. Anupa is also board member of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, and has been profiled by the U.S. Department Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Desiree Moore 
Freeport, NY

Desiree is a leader who has been working with YOUTH POWER! for two years. Some of her work has included creating a peer support group in a Residential Treatment Facility and also partnering with a state operated children’s hospital to start a youth advisory council. She also serves on the National Youth Leadership Network Board and is a part of the planning team for the SAMHSA BRSS TACs 2013 National Leadership Summit on Youth and Recovery. In 2010 Desiree was awarded the Families Together of New York State outstanding youth advocate award. As a former youth in the foster care system and receiving mental health services Desiree understands the importance of young people feeling supported and having their voice heard. Desiree is currently a college student majoring in event management.


Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC.  This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

ASL & Deaf Pride Parade 

April 18, 2013 Thursday
8 pm ARTivism & ACTivism presentation
Frederick Community College
Cougar Grille, H Building

 April 19, 2013 Friday
11:30 am meet at Gallaudet U 800 Florida Ave
Parade begins at 12 pm to White House
Rally at Lafayette Park NE quadrant

April 20, 2013 Saturday
FYI - 9 am - 5 pm Deaf Nation Expo
Field House, Gallaudet U
800 Florida Ave

7:30 pm Vigil
Location TBA

 For on the ground updates follow @endaudism on twitter
Share pix and info at ASL & Deaf Pride Parade on facebook


Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.

Submit Nominations for White House Champions for Change
The White House Champions of Change program highlights the stories and examples of citizens across the country who are “Building an America to Last” with projects and initiatives that move their communities forward.  All across the country, ordinary Americans are doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.  Each week, The White House invites Champions of Change share their ideas and to empower and inspire other members of their communities.  This year’s Transportation Champions of Change will focus on “Transportation Technology Solutions for the 21stCentury.   The deadline for submitting nominations is Thursday, March 28, 2013: Click Here for Nomination Process

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