We are both deaf and we both know no limits. It is the greatest gift you have given me as my father. As a young child, I watched you coach a deaf water polo team and a deaf basketball team, collaborate with the early stage technology institutions to help bring the internet and computers to the deaf community, raise funds for the nation’s deaf youth, and co-found the nation’s first and only deaf owned manufacturer of assistive technology products for the deaf and hard of hearing with Mom.
Editor's Note: Alexis Kasher, the current president of the Jewish Deaf Resource Center, recently shared her personal experiences and perspectives on inclusion for people who are deaf in the Jewish community at the Foundation for Jewish Camping conference. New Normal editor Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer interviewed Kashar about the conference.
NN: What is your experience of inclusion for people who are deaf in the Jewish community?
AK: I spent many years practicing civil rights and special education law. My practice focused on the civil and education rights of people who are deaf and hard of hearing or with disabilities. Laws are in place to protect their rights; however, enforcement is still an issue. It has been many years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and various federal special education laws was passed but we still have a ways to go before we are at 100 percent compliance. The truth is, once we are at 100 percent compliance, we will have achieved universal design that will benefit everyone. For instance, imagine how strollers would get around without curb cuts and how we could watch the Super Bowl in a noisy public place without closed captioning. However, for the most part religious organizations are exempt from compliance with the ADA.
On Monday, March 4th, the television show 'Switched at Birth' did something on mainstream TV that had never been done before. It ran an episode in sign language. Some viewers thought at first that the sound on their television was broken.