Unedited Session Transcript

Roles and Goals

Pat Billies, Vicki Hurwitz, Regina Kiperman, & Patricia Mudgett-Decaro


Good morning everyone. My name is Pat Billies. And I'm here with an exciting project from the Northeast Technical Assistant Center,NETAC, a sister region to the Western Region Outreach Center And Consortia, the WROCC, which many of you know and are familiar with on the west coast.

We are going to pause our formal presentation for about 15 minutes. I have a special surprise to share with all of you. I'm here from Rochester,New York, but this is not my first trip to Seattle. I first came to Seattle last fall with a film crew. I've been traveling around the United States filming successful deaf and hard of hearing people in the workplace to showcase them and to inspire other young deaf and hard of hearing folks to reach for the stars.

That trip to Seattle last fall really touched my heart. I flew home for five hours, and all I could think about were the powerful women that I met. I kept obsessing about it. You know, when my day is done, will anyone remember me like everyone will remember the women that I'm going to introduce you to in a minute?

The tape that I have with me is first edits. It's low resolution, the videographer was horrified that I wanted to take a project in the raw to you. But it's so powerful that I had to do that.

The initial voiceover is still yet to be done. The voicing that you hear is not the final voicing for the tape. Missing is the introduction. And in that introduction, we will talk about where this person went to college. And that was Gallaudet University. And the widespread impact of this project. It started right here in Seattle. And then it went to five cities and five more. And 5 more.

So now there are 15 networks established across the United States. Doing the very special work of helping deaf women against violence. I'm going to turn on the tape now and I know you'll enjoy it with me. That is, I hope I'm going to turn it on. I may come from NTID but the "t" doesn't belong to me. Cross your fingers. Well where's our volume? (video)

And I have another surprise for you. Would you help me honor Marilyn Smith who is with us today? (applause) This wonderful woman, this giant among women. Come on up here. Do you want to share anything with us?

Marilyn Smith: You're not supposed to make me cry. Wow! What can I say? I think this is the first time in 17 years that we have really told a whole story to a group. So for us it's a very emotional thing. We've worked so hard, we've been focused on the day-to-day things we had to do and this was an opportunity to look back and see what we have been doing all of these years and to see that we've been doing really good work, that we've been doing it right. So I haven't had an opportunity to really thank you for this. It was good therapy for us. You're still making me cry. So we are building our first transition housing. It's the first one in the United States for deaf women. We expect to have the building completed and open in two years. We want to have a place where women from all over the country can move to stay, an apartment building that will be safe, that will have a staff. So if you want to support that and be involved, call me up. Check our website. As I said, and on the video, we need everyone to participate in getting rid of this problem. So join with us in this cause. Thank you. Got to go to work.

<<< This (videotape) is for you. I understand you're going to -- I understand you're going to meet with a wealthy family this morning. Yes. For the housing project, yes. Yes

: go for it

Marilyn Smith: give me a moment of prayer that she'll give me some money. Thank you so much. Thank you. (applause) Wow. Okay. Is it okay if I stand here for a minute? Thank you.

Pat Billies: Well now we'll tell you about the project that helped create that video segment. Our project is called Achieving Goals, Career Stories of Individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

These are our presenters today. Unfortunately, our second presenter, Vicki Hurwitz is unable to be with us. She injured her knee just an hour and a half before we were leaving and could not be with us. So we will miss her. But we'll still continue and travel on with our project.

This project began to create a series of videotapes. Soon after we got started with that project, we realized that it was going to be expensive and extremely time consuming. We can fit four or five individuals on each tape. What but we were meeting so many more successful people out there. So a few months into it, we decided to establish a companion website which you will see today.

And there are hundreds of people already on that website telling their stories and sharing their legacies.

We're going to start today with Pat Mudgett-Decaro who will give you a research perspective on why role models and why goals are so critical.

Then Regina Kiperman will talk to you about the website. This is her baby.

I will share the scope of our videos and show you one more complete video before we leave today. There are two that are finished now. The one that Marilyn will be featured in is our third. So with no further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Pat Decaro.

Pat Decaro: I just want to say good morning and I'm really pleased to be here. First time Seattle. It's beautiful. The main reason that I'm a part of this is to kind of share with you some of the research that I've done that touches upon this topic. A kind of background context for why these videotapes are so important and their distribution, hopefully, will be wide. I'm not very good at technology either. So hang on a minute here. Here we go.

As we all know, deaf people are still underrepresented in a variety of fields. Professional fields, doctor, lawyer, even professors. Administrative fields, bank manager, this sort of thing. And sales. So we need to think a little bit about why that is still the case. Jim Decaro and Judy Egelston Dodd back in 1982 wrote an article about the two different kinds of barriers that faced individuals who are deaf trying to find jobs.

One was the usual environmental, the physical or structural issues, telephones, fire alarms, public announcements, this sort of thing.

But I'm going to concentrate more on the attitudinal barriers which can be real or imagined. And these attitudes particularly amongst counselors, employers, parents, teachers and other deaf people. Some of which can be very encouraging, some of which can be discouraging.

But I'd like to start with a -- with a story you could call it the tale of discouragement and encouragement. I don't know if any of you know Patti Lago Avery. She experienced hearing loss first at the age of about 13, 14, she had a sudden drop and along with that her grades went from A to B, to C. By the time she finished high school, her parents said to her, I don't think you're really college material. So she went to work in a five and dime. Remember those? We used to have five and dimes. She was fired very quickly because although the manager knew that she had a hearing loss, the manager became very annoyed with the fact that she couldn't hear instructions that were shouted from the back of the store. So she was fired right away. After some months of real discouragement, she decided all right, I am going to college. She went on to college -- and I'll tell you a little about that. But at 21 her hearing dropped again and at 24 she diagnosed her own Usher's SyndRome. First time she tried to go to college, she was told this. People tried to guide her away from any field that required hearing. She was interested in social work. But no. She was told she couldn't do that. She wanted to go into deaf education. She wasn't considered because the head of the program asked how are you going to teach young deaf students to talk and use good speech? And this may sound like ancient history but it's not. Then she decided hospital careers maybe. Six months interviewing different careers. X-ray technician, medical lab technician and everyone told her sorry, deaf person can't really handle this. This is important: "with my broken spirit, I believed them." Then finally, two people encouraged her to go into a program. "It was like a life line, I broke down in tears. I was so overwhelmed and grateful that someone wanted me and believed in me." That program was called Communication Disorders Program. And at that point she made an important decision. "I decided I would not let anyone else try to control my decisions. I must find the strength to follow my heart. And this is what I did." That's wonderful. But to see what she went through to get to that and to think about the strength of character that allowed her to make this jump, not everyone has that. Today she has just retired as counselor for students, deaf hard of hearing, deaf students with secondary disabilities. She presents locally, nationally, and internationally, on deaf blind issues. I just got back a couple weeks ago from Greece where she gave a fantastic presentation about deaf/blind issues. 400 people in this audience. It was the best presentation of the entire conference, bar none. And she's a member of the board of the American Association for the Deafblind.

Now, let me tell you about a study that my husband and I did in Sweden on a Fulbright in 1999. The title of the study I'm sure I can remember it but I'd rather read it. Occupations for Deaf People in Sweden, the expressed attitudes of parents, teachers, and deaf community leaders. The reason we selected Sweden was because Sweden is generally seen as the top of the line deaf people. By the time we got there, already for 18 years there had been a law in place saying that deaf students should be educated in Swedish sign language. All right. Now never mind the fact that teachers had to learn Swedish sign language first. I mean there are a lot of complications with that. It's not nearly as clear-cut as it sounds. However, we thought if there's any place in the world where attitudes are going to be very positive, it might likely be Sweden. So that's why we selected Sweden. We wanted to talk to as I say, parents, teachers and deaf community leaders. A similar study had been designed by Jim, my husband, way back. 1979. He had conducted something like it in England. And then other people had made little alterations to fit different cultures. It had been done in India, Israel, South Africa, Italy, United States. I'm not sure if I left somebody out. But anyway, so this was kind of the final. You know, in the other countries what came out as the important characteristics upon which people would -- based upon which people would say nah, I don't think I would encourage a deaf person to go to that field, were communication and safety. It all revolved around those two issues, not surprising.

Let me move on to the study in Sweden. First of all, this is for -- well when I say selected occupations, the way we set this up was to go to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and we selected different occupations from a wide variety of types of courses. Of types of occupations. So that it went from one end to the other of the scale of the job. So now we're talking about which of these jobs did people say I'm not sure a deaf person should do that? At least they were less positively encouraged than for a hearing person. Now mind you, this is what people say. And that's all you can go on. Parents and teachers, most of whom were hearing, not all. We didn't separate out the deaf individuals in these groups -- said that for these four occupations -- doctor, hotel manager, salesperson, and university lecturer, by which is meant professor -- for those four areas, they weren't sure that they would encourage a deaf person as strongly as they would a hearing person to go into those areas. The deaf individuals, the deaf community leaders, had only two areas. Doctor and hotel manager. Now, the deaf community leaders said oh, sales is no problem. Find a buddy system. There are a lot of different ways you can work through that. No problem. The university lecturer, the deaf community was somewhat outraged to think that well if a deaf student can be in a classroom with an interpreter, why can't the deaf person be in front of the class as the lecturer with an interpreter? What's the difference? The hearing individuals hadn't thought about it that way.
Safety was not an issue in Sweden, which I thought was very interesting. Because it had been in every other country. That turned out to be related to Sweden specifically. As one Swede said to us, Sweden has rules. Swedes follow the rules. We are Swedish. We follow the rules. And as a culture, they really do. Really do. So when they set up the safety rules for a workplace, everybody was expected to follow every single rule to the letter and if they did, there should be no safety issues. So literally, that never came up, which truly astonished us. The way we did this was to give a Likert scale rating for each one of the questions. And at some point in the questionnaire it would say "I would encourage a deaf person to" this occupation, to study for or to work toward this, if they had the appropriate a levels, o levels, the high school levels. And then someplace else it would say exactly the same thing but it would say "I would encourage a hearing person" Same thing. After it was all over, we then went back to many individuals, not to ask them about their responses. We didn't know what their responses were anyway. But to ask them about the results of the whole study. And they were the ones who explained to us this bit about safety. Why this really wasn't a problem. However, that brought it down to communication. This was really interesting. Everybody, including the deaf community leaders, made a sort of fundamental assumption that a deaf -- for the ones that they weren't so sure that they should encourage a deaf person to go into, felt that a deaf person had to work with other deaf people. This is what the deaf leaders say. University lecturer, you can use the interpreter in reverse, no problem. Salesperson use a buddy system or something else. But doctor quote "There were not enough deaf patients to support more than a very few deaf doctors in the country."

Well, I'm sure many of us know people, deaf people who are deaf doctors, not nearly enough obviously. But in Rochester, we have Dr. Carolyn Stern. She puts an interpreter behind the shoulder of hearing patients. So she can look at the patient but with a quick glance can also see the interpreter. She also has other forms of accommodation. And you will see on the videotape today later, you will see a doctor, I think. Yes. Using some other forms of accommodation. She has a wide variety. Since this was made, we also now have an ob/gyn working at Strong Memorial Hospital. We have two dentists. We have a couple of psychologists or psychiatrists working in the area. And more coming. It's becoming -- I'm sorry, yes, it is Rochester, New York. Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York. So clearly this is something that can be worked out. Roberto Wirth is a graduate of NTID, National Technical Institute of the Deaf. He's president and general manager of the Hassler Hotel which is at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome. He wasn't there at the time but when my husband and I were visiting Rome. We said why don't we go up and see Roberto. Well we couldn't get past the front door. Jim didn't have a tie on and I didn't have the appropriate clothing. I guess we don't see Roberto this time. Turned out he wasn't there. But anyway, he also makes multiple and relatively simple accommodation for him to be the hotel manager. I'm going to jump over that one and go on to the more general concept that the attitudes really are important. Parents, teachers, counselors, significant others. Now this is a picture of the baking class in Sweden in the high school. The system in Sweden is that you have five schools for the deaf all over the country. For high school, the best of all of those students come to one town. And there are three high schools which have programs set up for deaf students in the -- within the -- mainstreamed in effect. But separate programs within the same school. One is an academic high school, one is a trade high school as in carpentry and cars. Another one is a trade high school as in baking, hair dressing, clothing making. This one is in the bakery department. And we interviewed some of the students and asked them why they picked baking. And, again, the issue of well, I'm here in the class with all deaf individuals. I have a teacher who can sign. That would be the same in the academic, but I don't think I can communicate out there. I think it's better for me to do something like baking, which I can do by myself in effect, with minimal communication with others. And when we asked her if anybody had encouraged her ever to do anything else, she said no. She was defining herself in part or maybe in large part by the either lack of encouragement from other people or the discouragement. The key then is to go into a work site and evaluate for safety or and/or communication issues. What's real? What's not real? For example in communication: how much of the communication is actually one on one? How much is group? How much is blah, blah, blah and then work out ways to meet that by modifying the job. Not by changing the job requirement. One of the things that should be on a slide and will be from here on out because I didn't think to do it before, but the really critical factor is not to forget that deaf individuals have had a lifetime of experience in making modifications. So this is not something that we are doing for a deaf person. This is a joint project. Asking, communicating with, involving deaf individuals in figuring out the modifications is critically important. So these videotapes that are being -- will be shown and that will be finished in the end show individuals not just as a role model but also show first that a deaf person, deaf people can do. All right. That's the role model.

Secondly, what kind of accommodations make that possible? It's not always explicitly there, but you can see it. In the process itself. So this helps people to think that oh, I see how that person did that. Maybe that's why or how it could be done. And of course the focus always on not what a deaf person can't do but on what can be done how. It's the how that's critical. Now, this is awkward. There's a wonderful little one minute 15 second story by jt, John Reid. If you can't see it except for going over there, but it is lovely. I think it's worth you're getting up and going to see it and stretching for a moment. There is voice, I believe.

: where's the voice?

: I'm not sure there is a voice. I don't think so

: let's repeat that. Sorry. All right. Let's try again

: for one minute and 15 seconds, maybe it wasn't worth it but at least, you're moving. (video tale of two frogs).

: I love that little story. It's got -- it's a wonderful little story which I think we all need to keep in mind all the time. Let's just keep encouraging. And the frog may get to the top. Anyway, thank you very much.

Let me introduce Regina Kiperman who is a project assistant forNETAC who has worked on the wonderful website that you'll be seeing next who came to us from Russia nine years ago and is a wonderful asset. Please.

Regina Kiperman: There we are. Are you my voice? Oh, who is? There she is. Okay. We're all set. I'm going to be signing this way and if there's any time you need to interrupt me if you don't understand, I'll look this way. Okay?

Good morning everyone, as you may well know, there is a great benefit and strength to role models for young people, especially deaf and hard of hearing people because they need to see someone who is like them. Our students are in a lot of settings, mainstreamed settings, rural areas and in urban areas as well and they can become doctors and lawyers and what have you.

But they don't think they can because they're deaf. They don't see that for themselves. They don't see the possibilities because they don't see deaf adults who are there. They see people who have lost their hearing later in life who are in these kinds of positions but not people who were born and raised deaf and that's -- that has quite an impact because they don't get to see that.

So the website that we put together goes with the video series and we have made sure that it's accessible to everyone, not only deaf folks but also parents, VR counselors, instructors, teachers, who can look at this and see how very many role models there are in different professions.

The website is called achieving goals of deaf individuals, deaf and hard of hearing individuals, I should say and here's a screen shot.

I wish that I had a live internet link right now to show you in real time but I've got screen shots here. So we enter the site. And I will give you the URL, absolutely, a bit later. But you can see that there are options for browsing and searching if we go in there there's a portal to all of the different parts of the -- all of the different careers that you can read through right here. Accounting, arts, engineering, government, et cetera. And they're all listed here. And we have people or profiles behind all of these who are deaf or hard of hearing.

So you can see how they've gotten to where they are. Where they graduated from and a little bit of a bio about them and you can see that they have achieved something. And similarly a deaf and hard of hearing person would be able to see that they could do the same thing.

If you go let's say into the medical field, we have a list of profiles here. With photos. And a little quotation from each person. And a deaf person can read that and derive some inspiration from that. If you click on we'll say this guy, this tells a little bit about his background and it describes what kind of work he does. And how he got to where he is and you can read through that.

Or if you don't want to do that, if you know you want a specific name of a specific person or a specific job title, you can type that into the search page and it will pole the database and show you the results of that and any deaf or hard of hearing person can do that if they know what they have in mind.

The reason we have this website is twofold, first of all, to show students different careers and have them -- give them a place to click around and see all the options that they have. Secondly, we have a point of distribution where we can get all the questions answered about what people do for a living and you type that into your profile as see here, we encourage more and more people to fill this out so we can fill it into the database and cover the nationwide information much more than we have currently.

So you see that here. Also, some people change their careers and they can update their profile at any time to reflect their current status. Right here you see the questions written out and I would encourage you if you are deaf or hard of hearing to fill this out for us and tell us what you do and what your background is.

And if you are a hearing person, well then could you please refer us to anyone you know who is a candidate for this and have them fill out the profile or the questionnaire in our website so we can capture that information. Particularly people with unique lines of work. This is going to be kept private, it's not going to be sold, your information is not going to be given out for any other purposes and we just want your name, profession, and a little bit about your background.

No more in depth than that. These are comments that folks have made. Here's testimonials you can read through. And this is a real vital part of the website so students can look at this and really briefly see that there are people who are just like them. It's really neat.

Oh, yes. There's a question? Well, you know what? I have some cards to hand out. Yes? Oh, yeah, I have some cards with the URL as I indicated. I'm going to be handing them out. And do take several extras to hand out to your students so they can fill out the questionnaire as well and feed that information into our database. We need as many careers represented as possible so I really encourage you and I encourage you to encourage young students to do so because I need them to do so.

I noticed there was a hand up on this side of the room.

Thank you. I'm Dorothy Walt. I'm deaf and blind. And I would suggest that you have a separate or that you add a section for deaf/blind people as well. I know that you have this for deaf and hard of hearing people. But it would be so good to have one for deaf/blind people. Because deaf/blind people really need to see this as well. So that's my suggestion.

<<< All right. I would be more than happy to add something like that. But as far as what the needs are for that module, I'm not sure how it would need to be changed. Would the pictures need to be enlarged or the format need to be changed in any way? I would ask for your advice for the use of deaf/blind browsers or users of the website. I would be more than happy to include that if you would be in contact with me for that.

: Sure, I'd be happy to do that

: Thank you so much. Well, I have the website here, the URL is http://netac.rit.edu/goals on these cards. I'd like to turn the time over to pat for her portion of the presentation.

Pat Billies: Thank you Regina,

Regina has done an awesome job on that website. There are over 200 individuals now on there. She has a digital camera with her, so if you are deaf or hard of hearing, we'd be delighted to take your picture while we're here. Persons can upload their photos themselves quite easily or send them, we'll scan them in. We want this to be a tremendous resource.

Let me tell you just a little bit about our videotapes and then I'll show you the first one. We have five planned. The first 2 are finished and ready.

The first one you will see today features doctors and lawyers.

The second one features folks in business fields. I'll go into each one separately.

The third one is where Marilyn Smith will be featured, the videotape you saw earlier this morning. This volume 3 will showcase individuals who are giving back to the deaf community in some special or unique way.

The fourth one will be related to computers in some way. We're still interviewing.

And the last one on the trades. The first videotape you will see features these individuals.

We made a commitment when we started this project that every videotape will showcase individuals from underserved populations, every videotape. And we are committed to that and will continue that.
Don? Audience: Are most of these born deaf or were they late deafened in terms of their upbringing? I'm just kind of curious from the previous speaker talking about deaf people growing up deaf

: Thank you. Good question Don. There's a wide variety on the tape. Each person tells their own story. We first looked for individuals from underserved populations. We then looked for a gender balance of males and females in each tape. The third thing we looked for was communication differences using growing up culturally deaf or becoming deaf later. But that was our third priority. The first two were our first. In any case, you will see this tape in a moment.

This tape has just been awarded a prestigious Telly Award, we're thrilled. Things like 30 something and National Geographic and Microsoft commercials have won that. So we're thrilled with that.

Our second tape which is ready features four individuals.

The third one is in development. It will feature

  • Marilyn,
  • Yolanda Rodriguez from Puerto Rico who is in charge of all deaf education on the island.
  • Curtis Pride, another awesome individual who has set up a foundation that's rewarding scholarships and getting hearing aids for young deaf.
  • Lillian Garcia the first Latino woman who receive a bachelor's degree in interpreting and is now heading up interpreting services in the state of Massachusetts. And
  • Cesar Torres a Latino man who moved to Costa Rica because the immigration in the United States after 9/11 prohibited him from reaching the people he wanted. He trains ministers from around the world how to work with the deaf.

Volume four we have one segment filmed. We're open on others. If you know someone who is working in the computer field, particularly if they're from an underserved population, please let us know. And we're looking for people who are in film or the arts as long as they're using computers in some way.

And the last one is wide open. We'll be filming that next year. We've been asked to do noncollege kind of trades.

With no further ado, let me introduce you to our Volume 1 you may want to move over to see this. Cross our fingers and I'll thank you for helping.

Can you tell you please that these videotapes are available through PEPNet Resource Center. Many of you are familiar with pepnet.org, there's an exhibit in the exhibit hall about that as well. I think there's a $20 charge for shipping and handling for each tape.

Audience: so you'll hand them -- announce please that they need evaluation form.

Thank you. Before you leave, we're going to ask you to please fill out evaluations. Thank you. We're about 40 minutes. (video)

Well, we're thrilled. That's our Telly Award winner.

We have another one completed dealing with folks in business.

  • Jimmy Leibman is a Caucasian male who owns Gimme Jimmy's Cookies.
  • Elizabeth Rios is an account executive in Sprint Relay in Puerto Rico.
  • Lee Kramer, financial analyst in Washington, D.C. and
  • Theresa King, an inspirational speaker and an author and the owner of King Enterprises.

I have one copy of each that I'd be happy to give to anyone here. They're all available through the PEPNet Resource Center. These tapes are already on some public broadcasting systems in our area. And if you have interest in showing them on PBS channels in your area, you wouldn't use videotape for that. There's another format and I leave that to the technical guys. I can get that for you if you like.

Some people are using the women's segments for deaf women's studies classes, some are using the segments with African-Americans for their classes or Latinos, there's a lot of uses for these. They're in development. The whole project will be finished in about a year and a half or two years.

We really appreciate your coming and sharing this. I'd like to close -- and then I'll take a few questions if anybody is interested.

I'd like to close with something that Vicki Hurwitz shares that really struck home with me. And she says that these videos would be inspiring obviously. A deaf individual might not be -- want to become a pediatrician or a financial analyst or a dancer. But when they see people who are leaders in their field, it gives them hope and inspiration that they too can be a leader in their other field, go for it. Thanks for coming. (applause) Any questions or comments? Enjoy the rest of the conference. Thank you. Now you have evaluation forms already distributed? Please. (end)

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