We are proud to induct Stacy Abrams into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.
In her own words: “I was born deaf to a hearing mom and dad. Even though they were told by some not to learn to sign, my parents made the decision to learn and use sign language with my older deaf sister and me. Some other family members also learned to sign with us too. I am a proud alumni of Arkansas School for the Deaf. I would not be where I am if I did not have the support of my hearing parents who did everything they could to support me. Because of their commitment to me, I was able to do a lot of things.
I am a Gallaudet & University of California Santa Barbara alumna. I was a teacher for a few years before becoming a Deaf Mentor Program Coordinator in both New Mexico (7 years) and Arizona (2.5 years). Currently, I am the Coordinator of Training for Clerc Center at Gallaudet University where I coordinate different trainings that Clerc Center has to offer. The Clerc Center supports professionals and families through the dissemination of resources, training and evidence-based information in the areas of professional development, family-school partnerships and national collaborations. It is important to support the linguistic, educational and social-emotional needs of deaf kids from birth to high school. My background is in early intervention- mostly in supporting hearing families with deaf children on their journey. I am also a national deaf mentor trainer and also am one of two deaf adults on the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing. Sharing my knowledge and experience with others I something I really enjoy by doing a lot of collaborations, presentations and workshops.
A year and half ago, I came up with the #whyisign campaign to support families on their signing journey. The campaign also includes deaf adults’ stories, stories from hearing professionals, CODAs, interpreters, ASL students, and so forth. They all support signing, and encourage families to sign with their deaf children. The campaign also shares resources for families to continue on their journey of raising deaf children, and that includes deaf culture, deaf community, and happenings.”
Why does mentoring matter to me?
My first mentor was a deaf woman who was in her 50’s when she worked with me, as an 18 month old child. At that time, maybe I did not really understand the concept that we were both “deaf,” but for some reason, I remember always thinking, she and I are alike. I had two other hearing teachers assigned to me, whom I liked, but I did not have the same relationship as I had with Marie. I remember seeing her leave every day at lunch, pulling out the driveway. Because of her, I never questioned whether I could drive or not. Many hearing parents still wonder whether their deaf child can drive, yet alone, go and order food at a drive-thru restaurant!
I want to open hearing families’ eyes to the beauty of a true language, American Sign Language (along with other signed languages), and that it can make the world of difference with their deaf children. What is really important to you? The fact that your child can speak, but have no idea what it means, or your child can sign the word and have the full concept. To do that, I wanted to create a hub of a community that rallies around signing. I strongly believe that everyone who makes a video (deaf or hearing) becomes a mentor to the hearing families who view the videos.
We cannot never underestimate the power of mentoring, and providing support. I will never forget Marie, and I hope that I, as a mentor, can truly provide deaf children & their families a unique way in seeing the world through their hands.
Photography credit: Clare Cassidy