National Association of the Deaf

This lists all blog postings by the NAD and individuals who have submitted blog entries for posting by the NAD. Some of these will also be in video format (vlogs), which we expect will increase over time.

We welcome your comments! Before you send these in, please first review our Blog Policy.

Wendy Brehm hails from Maryland and had various experiences in education growing up. She attended the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) then went to Eleanor Roosevelt High School (ERHS) for her first two years of high school. Later, she transferred to Don Bosco Cristo Rey (DBCR), a private school for one year, then graduated from the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) in June 2014.  She will begin studying law at the University of Baltimore this fall. Her favorite hobbies are dancing and writing.  Wendy is excited to be doing an internship with the NAD because she dreams of becoming a lawyer someday.  She wants advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, specifically in education.  She looks up to Tawny Holmes, who is an Education Advocate.  Thanks to her internship, Wendy feels empowered to make a difference, just like the people at NAD do!



For Keith Doane, most of his identity originated in Minnesota. He attended Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) until his sophomore year in High School.  Later, he graduated in 2004 from the California School for the Deaf, Fremont.  Growing up, he was very involved with athletics including football, BMX racing, basketball, track/field, and more importantly, Alpine Skiing.  Keith participated as an athlete in the 15th (2003 in Sundsvall) and 16h (2007 in Salt Lake City) Winter Deaflympics.  After meeting a few international students from Italy during his studies at Gallaudet University, he discovered his new passion – International Advocacy, which involves legal, education, and human rights work.  He graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s in International Government. Currently, he is in the Masters of Public Administration program at Gallaudet University and someday, he intends to run an organization.

Nia Lazarus is currently a third year student at Georgetown University where she studies Linguistics and Italian. Her internship at the NAD was brief, but it will not be her last. Her aspiration is to be admitted in a joint JD/MA program upon graduation from Georgetown and become an attorney for linguistic rights and education policies. She was born and raised in the Bay Area in California where she attended public elementary and secondary schools in Berkeley and California School for the Deaf in Fremont. Nia often loses herself in researching and studying new languages during her spare time. She has intensively studied Italian, Spanish, and Latin. She enjoys traveling and has recently finally reached her goal of visiting Italy this summer for five weeks studying Italian Sign Language and Linguistics. She hopes to study Linguistics at Stockholm University in Sweden this spring.


Daniela Porras comes from Costa Rica where she grew up until she was 11 years old, her family moved to America.  She knows four languages, Spanish, Spanish Sign Language, English, and American Sign Language.  She grew up speaking Spanish but used Spanish Sign Language while at school.  After moving to the United States, she spoke Spanish at home but used English and Sign Exact English at school.  Currently, she studies at Gallaudet University and has started using American Sign Language. She enjoys using captions on videos here after not having that growing up but still cherish some of her Costa Rican culture such as food.  Daniela enjoys reading and writing.  One day, she wants to be an author like her grandfather, Alvaro Porras Ledezma, so she can be another author in the family.



Monicah Tenai is an Early Childhood Education and Development teacher from Kenya and serves as a treasurer for the Kenya National Association of the Deaf (KNAD) Youth Section.  She is a fellow participating in the Mandela Washington fellowship for Young Africa leaders’ initiative. The fellowship is a new flagship program of President Barack Obama and the US Government, and is supported by IREX. The fellowship brought 500 young African leaders for academic study, leadership, and a presidential summit in Washington DC.  Out of all the fellows, 100 were selected to complete an eight-week internship.  Her internship experience will cover advocacy of civil, human, and linguistic rights, youth leadership programs, deaf education, culture, and networking opportunities so that she can bring ideas for effective change back to her home country.


Alexander Van Hook, from Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, is currently a fourth year student at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), studying political science and history. For the year 2014-2015, Alex will be involved with the NTID Student Council, serving the NTID student body as its President.  In the summer of 2013, he did an internship with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, thanks to the internship program of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Alex is this year’s recipient of the Nancy J. Bloch Leadership and Advocacy Scholarship at the NAD, which allowed Alex to work at the NAD Headquarters.  During his internship, Alex is able to learn about current emergent topics in American deaf and hard of hearing rights, how the NAD works as an organization, and also attend the biennial NAD Conference for his first time in Atlanta, Georgia this past summer!  Alex is considering a career in politics and advocacy after he graduates from RIT in 2016. 



Congratulations Dr. Al Mehl for receiving September 2014’s #NADHandwave!  Al has been very involved in newborn hearing screening since 1992 and took an integral part in passing Colorado’s newborn hearing legislation in 1997. The reason he’s being recognized this month is because of his recent opinion piece in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s newsletter on how to talk about being deaf, and what makes one “disabled” (or not!). 

Among other things, Al says “…I have learned to think of deafness as a quality that defines, in part, a very human attribute, a human-ness, a spirit born of a shared signed language, a spirit born of hands connected to heart, a shared way of being in the world, a visceral connection to a community of family and friends.”  He also describes an experience at Gallaudet University as the only hearing person in a room full of deaf students and how that was part of his “journey of appreciation."

In addition, the newsletter highlights the deaf Marvel character Hawkeye and the Best Practices in Family-Centered Early Intervention International Consensus Statement.  This is information that pediatricians and other medical professionals need to know.  Al also was a contributor to the Supplement to the JCIH 2007 Position Statement: Principles and Guidelines for Early Intervention After Confirmation That a Child Is Deaf or Hard of Hearing and helped to ensure a balanced viewpoint in that document.  

One line says it best from the nomination letter for the 2010 winners of the Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence, “Without Al Mehl I am convinced newborn hearing screening would not have happened in Colorado for another decade.”

Al is a Pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has practiced general pediatrics for over 30 years. Currently he is the chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics EHDI Chapter Champions and works with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado as well as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Following his introduction to newborn hearing screening in the newborn nursery of Boulder Community Hospital in 1993, Dr. Mehl became the pediatric consultant for the Colorado Newborn Hearing Screening Project. In this role, he assisted in lobbying for state legislation and subsequently became Chairman of the Colorado Infant Hearing Advisory Committee to the state health department in 1998. He has published a number of scientific papers summarizing Colorado’s successes in universal newborn hearing screening and has given educational presentations on four continents. Al is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Improving the Effectiveness of Newborn Hearing Screening and has served as Chairman of the Task Force from 2005 to present. Additionally, he was appointed in 2005 to represent the American Academy of Pediatrics on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH). 

According to Dr. Beth Benedict, "Dr. Mehl is one of a kind.  Although he is a pediatrician, he does much more.  He embraces and respects people of all kinds.  He allows deaf people to be deaf.  He gets it."

Thanks, Al, for advocating a broad perspective of what it means to be deaf!

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) gives monthly #NADHandwaves to people in our community. This is great opportunity for the NAD to recognize exemplary people who do the work they do. With such great people, the world continues to move. If you know someone who deserves a #NADHandwave, submit your suggestion online!


The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.

The NAD introduces Hugh Farquhar as this month’s #NADHandwave recipient! He’s well known for his many years spent on a small island in Connecticut, as an archery instructor before eventually becoming the Director of Camp Isola Bella. 

Hugh was born in Montreal, Canada and enrolled into the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in 1955 then eventually graduated in 1960.  Ten years later, he started working at ASD and through that path, he ended up being the Director of Camp Isola Bella.  He’s well known for his archery knowledge and to this day, he continues to mentor and train Isola Bella staff and campers with archery instruction.  In addition to having been the Assistant Director and Director at Isola Bella, Hugh has worn many different hats during his tenure at ASD, as a classroom teacher, archery instructor, machine shop teacher, and even as a per diem specialist! 

He is always quick to assist in any way he can, even though he is no longer a staff member at ASD.  He has volunteered many hours for the community that need his media expertise, archery knowledge, or his two cents on how to deal with a situation.  During his free time, he enjoys golfing.   Hugh is a true gentleman with a warm personality.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) gives monthly #NADHandwaves to people in our community. This is great opportunity for the NAD to recognize people who do the work they do. With such great people, the world continues to move. If you know someone who you’d like to nominate for a #NADHandwave, you can submit your suggestion online!

Thank you, Hugh, for continuing to give your heart and soul to Isola Bella. We appreciate your dedication and we’re grateful for your commitment.  You have set an example of what it takes to be great community member. Congratulations on receiving this month’s #NADHandwave!

Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

The NAD strongly supports the efforts of Keith Nolan and others to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing people have the opportunity to serve our country in uniform. We, like many of our members, were deeply inspired by Keith Nolan’s 2011 TedxIslay conference speech, which has over 150 thousand views on YouTube. The NAD has been working closely with Mr. Nolan over the past three years gathering support in Congress. The NAD strongly supports S.1864 and H.R. 5296. We believe that this pilot program is a great first step as it is a way to show the military how it can benefit from having deaf and hard of hearing soldiers.    

There will be a rally on Friday, September 12, 2014.  Further information about the rally can be found at or  


The NAD Board of Directors and RID Board of Directors will host a joint town hall meeting with free admission on Saturday, September 20th, 2014, 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM, at the American School for the Deaf, Gallaudet-Clerc Education Center Cafeteria (139 North Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06107).  Refreshments will be provided!  Come and meet the NAD & RID Board of Directors!  This town hall meeting would not be possible without the support of the American School for the Deaf.  

Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.

The NAD is pleased to share that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has created rules requiring text messaging providers to support text-to-911. While the four major wireless phone companies already support text-to-911 on their networks, these rules require all wireless carriers and many Internet-based text messaging application providers to support text-to-911 by the end of this year.

These rules are a huge victory for deaf and hard of hearing Americans. However, this does not mean that it is possible to text to 911 anywhere in the country yet. Many 911 centers are not ready to receive text messages now, but this rule makes it possible for wireless carriers and Internet text messaging service providers to pass on texts to 911 centers.

What's next? We encourage all of you to reach out to local 911 centers and ask that they upgrade their equipment to accept text-to-911. Once they do, everyone will be able to text to 911, and no relay is necessary for these communications.

The NAD has long advocated for direct access to 911 services so that deaf and hard of hearing people can quickly, easily and directly communicate with 911 operators. For many deaf and hard of hearing people, the easiest way to contact 911 is through text messaging. In emergencies, every minute counts. 

We really deeply appreciate the support of FCC Chairman Wheeler, Commissioner Clyburn, and Commissioner Rosenworcel who made history with these new rules.


The NAD is the nation's premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America. The mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing individuals. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more – improving the lives of millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans. The NAD also carries out its federal advocacy work through coalition efforts with specialized national deaf and hard of hearing organizations, as well as coalitions representing national cross-disability organizations. 

Sorry, you need to install flash to see this content.


Alexander Van Hook, the 2014 Nancy J. Bloch Leadership & Advocacy Scholarship Intern at the NAD shares an update regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).  
Video description and Transcript: 
Video fades to soft blue and white background with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) logo centered. 
Video fades to white then fades to Alexander Van Hook inside the NAD Headquarters' front lobby.
ALEXANDER: Hello everyone! My name is Alexander Van Hook and I am the 2014 Nancy J. Bloch Leadership and Advocacy Scholarship intern at the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). I have exciting news to share! On July 22nd, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was voted out of the Senate Foreign Relation Committee! This means that the full Senate will have an opportunity to vote on ratifying the CRPD, and this might happen the week of July 28th.  If the Senate ratifies the CRPD, a United Nations treaty, the USA can become a part of the worldwide effort to make society accessible everywhere. American businesses and organizations can contribute with accessible ideas and products, making it possible for every deaf and hard of hearing person and a person with disability to work anywhere, travel anywhere, and study anywhere! What could be better than that?  This is the second time the Senate has a chance to ratify the CRPD. President Barack Obama signed the CRPD in 2009, and the Senate almost ratified it in December 2012 but was short by only five votes.  YOU can help! Please call your Senators to encourage them to vote YES on the CRPD! Tell them you want to be full citizens of the world and be able to go anywhere without barriers. If you’d like to do more, visit Thank you and have a great day!
Video fades to the same soft blue and white background with the NAD logo centered. Black text below the logo appears, "A production of The National Association of the Deaf (copyright) 2014 All Rights Reserved"
  1. In a historic first, the NAD Conference theme was only in ASL.

    Animated gif of #2014 NAD Conference Theme

  2. More than 1,500 attendees were at the NAD's Biennial National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia during July 1-5.

    Group of attendees in a church setting

  3. Over 100 volunteers were instrumental in its success.

  4. 90 presenters in 50 workshops provided attendees with important information, tips, updates, and news.

  5. There were 10 workshop tracks.

  6. The NAD and RID Region II partnered together to make a joint successful conference!

  7. Conference attendees had the option of saving trees and going mobile by downloading the program book via guidebook, and seeing real-time updates.

  8. Over 30 kids participated in the Kids Camp and enjoyed three full days of activities and field trips while making new friends.

  9. With over 70 exhibitors, people were able to enjoy the Exhibit Hall for three days.

  10. From June 29th to July 6th, you would see many attendees socializing in the main hotel lobby on the first floor and in front of the hotel.

  11. Awards were given out 25 individuals and organizations for their contribution to our community.

  12. The first NAD@Night event was the Opening Ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, which was truly a symbolic representation of history and a celebration of America's 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Group Shot showing church stage and all the attendees

  13. The Opening Ceremony emcees, Stephanie & Tim Albert, created an inspirational program to kick off the conference for a great week ahead!

    Opening Ceremony emcees Stephanie and Tim Albert

  14. As another NAD@Night event, NAD hosted its first ever Community Forum during the Conference, which allowed attendees to have dialogue with each other on many issues affecting our community. After the forum finished, attendees left feeling inspired to make real change with deep understanding of core and current issues in the deaf and hard of hearing community.

  15. Community Forum hosts Juniper Sussman and Janis Cole did a great job of working with over 70 facilitators and several panelists to ensure a successful dialogue that evening.

    Juniper Sussman and Janice Cole

  16. The third NAD@Night event was the College Bowl Finals, which are a major favorite of the attendees. The six teams that started the competition were the Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf (SWCID), University of Texas, University of Minnesota, National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), Gallaudet University, and California State University - Northridge (CSUN). Three teams made it into the finals and the final score was NTID/RIT 79, Gallaudet University 77, and CSUN 75, respectively. It was a very close competition and all the teams did a phenomenal job!

  17. As the emcee for the College Bowl Finals, CJ Jones was hilarious and kept everyone's attention throughout the competition.

    CJ Jones

  18. The Council of Representatives (COR) had over 150 delegates representing the deaf and hard of hearing community and voted on the top 5 priorities: Preservation and Advocacy of Relay Services (PARS); FEMA Communication to Deaf and Hard of Hearing; Preservation of Mental Health Services that Meet the Needs of Deaf People; Defining and Supporting the Education Strategy Team's Focus for 2014-2016; Outreach to Deaf Youth including Mainstream School Students, and voted for the new NAD Board of Directors.

  19. On the 4th of July, the Panoramic Firework Bash & Live Auction, another NAD@Night event, was sold out, thanks to a wonderfully entertaining line up including Austin Andrews, Wawa Snipe, and the auctioneering Benedicts!

  20. During this Fourth of July event, we celebrated RID's 50th Birthday!

    RID's 50th Birthday with a woman holding a cake

  21. Miss Deaf America put her the crown down to end the forty-year NAD legacy of the Miss Deaf America Ambassador Program (MDAAP).

    Miss Deaf America

  22. As MDAAP came to a close, we welcomed in a new NAD@Night legacy, the Youth Ambassador Program (YAP). The YAP had six finalists: Keith Delk, Allison Friedman, Ryan Hait-Campbell, Elena Mayer, Danah Richter, and Satish Thapa. After an evening of great "battles" and presentations, Ryan Hait-Campbell and Elena Mayer were chosen as the newly selected NAD Youth Ambassadors for 2014-2016.

  23. During the YAP Finals, the two emcees, Tyrone Giordano and Rosa Lee Timm, captivated the audience with their extraordinary stage presence and encouraged audience to tweet/Instagram/Facebook #nadyap, #teamTY, and #teamRL.

    Tyrone Giordano and Rosa Lee Timm

  24. Once #NAD2014 finished, people were ready to sign up for #NAD2016 in Phoenix, Arizona!

    Poster for 2016 NAD Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

  25. None of the above would have been possible if not for our partners -- thank you for your continued support and believing in the NAD's Mission.

Want to see the rest of the photos? You can!

For this month’s #NADHandwave, the NAD is excited to recognize a person who works diligently to support people with disabilities to become better self-advocates -- her name is Haben Girma.

Haben is a DeafBlind attorney who graduated from Harvard Law School in 2013, and since then has speedily engaged in a great deal of activism to promote the rights of people with disabilities. She already has been recognized twice for her hard work. First, she was recognized as one of 21 Most Impressive Students at Harvard. Second, the White House gave an award to Haben as one of the Champions of Change. She has a deep commitment to students who need more access in schools.

She currently serves as a Skadden Fellow attorney at Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), which is a non-profit law firm dedicated to protect the rights of people with disabilities. Through this position, Haben has been able to break down physical and attitudinal barriers and strives to improve access for students with disabilities in schools.

Because of her work and her example, she has been highly sought as a presenter and has been giving speeches all over the United States, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. She is often invited to educate people about the rights of students who have disabilities. She encourages the parents of these students to have high expectations for their children.

During an interview she had with Business Insider (BI), she explained, “The sad fact is that besides Helen Keller, there are very few DeafBlind role models." She continued, “I created my website a while back to help inspire Americans with disabilities and their supporters so that they, too, can be role models for others.”

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) gives monthly #NADHandwaves to people in our community. This is great opportunity for the NAD to recognize people who do the work they do. With such great people, the world continues to move. If you know someone who you’d like to nominate for a #NADHandwave, you can submit your suggestion online!

Thank you for all the work you’ve done, Haben. We appreciate your work and we’re grateful for your commitment. Without your advocacy efforts, the need to educate others on our rights would be much harder to achieve.  Congratulations on receiving this month’s #NADHandwave!

Stay in the #NAD2014 loop and check out the social media feed on! Bookmark this on your browsers!

Subscribe to feed

RSS icon

Subscribe to E-News

RSS icon

Privacy Policy           

National Association of the Deaf | 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819