Invisible and Silent No More: Black Deaf Women Share Their Stories – Houston


Published 02/22/2011

‘The Untold Stories of Black Deaf Women’ Panel Discussion Examines Diversity
in the Deaf Community

HOUSTON, TX – Houston’s most prominent black deaf women are coming together
to share their stories of defying expectations, blazing trails and, most
importantly, getting others to see and hear them. The panel discussion, “The
Untold Stories of Black Deaf Women,” will begin at 3 p.m., Saturday,
Feburary 26, 2011 in the Social Work Building, Room 101, on the UH campus.

“The deaf community as a whole is often overlooked, ignored and marginalized
by society at-large,” said Sharon G. Hill, an adjunct professor in the
department of communication sciences and disorders. “Imagine how much more
so that occurs to minorities within the deaf community.”

Hill, a sign language interpretation instructor, will moderate the panel,
which features Shirley Allen, Mary van Manen, Mary Perrodin, Rebbie Smith
and Michelle Martin. Allen, the first African American deaf woman to earn a
Ph.D. degree, is president of Houston Black Deaf Advocates. Van Manen, the
first black deaf person to graduate from college in Mississippi, sat on the
Texas Governing Board for the Texas School for the Deaf. Perrodin is an
educator of the deaf at Barbara Jordan High School and is pursuing her
second Master’s degree in counseling at Prairie View A&M University. Smith
is a long-time employee at the Michael E. Debakey Veterans Administration
Medical Center. Martin is president of the United Methodist Committee for
the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries.

“Black deaf individuals possess their own unique cultural norms, values,
language dialect and heritage – distinct from the white deaf community,”
Hill said. “This diversity in the deaf community makes the need for minority
interpreters all the more necessary. Sadly, minority groups are grossly
underrepresented when viewing the statistics for certified interpreters.”

The discussion is hosted by communication sciences and disorders
department’s American Sign Language Interpreting program. Communication
Axcess Ability Group (CAAG) and G. E. Grigsby Inc. are co-sponsors of the
event. CAAG is one of only five interpreting agencies in Houston that
specializes in sign language interpreting services and G. E. Grigsby Inc. is
a local accounting firm that specializes in serving deaf and hard-of-hearing


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