Martha’s Vineyard Place – A Deaf Action Center Community
June 2, 2015
Much like the current redevelopment boom in the City of Dallas, the Deaf Action Center (DAC) is going through a renaissance of our own. There has recently been renewed recognition in the validity of Deaf history and its discourse. For the first time in 35 years, DAC is now under the leadership of those that we serve, Deaf and hard of hearing. The local Deaf community and hard of hearing individuals are is rediscovering their history and place in society in terms of equality and economic security.
Part of that history takes us back to Martha’s Vineyard, an Island off Massachusetts where, in the 19th century, everyone communicated in sign language; often coining the Island as “Deaf Utopia.” Visitors marveled at how spoken and signed languages were used so freely and easily by both deaf and hearing residents. Newcomers to the area learned sign language in order to integrate into the community, sign language was easily accepted and not shunned. Deaf people were easily employable, took part in the economic success of the Island, and had held important positions, such as owning newspapers or legal writing businesses. Neighbors, both deaf, hard of hearing and hearing, were able to be a part of an integral community and make a difference in each other’s lives.
At Martha’sVineyard, being deaf and hard of hearing was never considered a handicap. Here at DAC, being deaf and hard of hearing is not considered a handicap either. Here, we have altogether deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people cohesively working together for the betterment of the local community they serve. We strive to remember and teach young deaf and hard of hearing children our heritage of equal access and what it means to have equality and contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way.
Upon this newfound rediscovery, we are seeking that the name Elizabeth Criswell Apartments be changed to Martha’s Vineyard Place to reflect the rich heritage of those we serve and to educate the local community of DAC’s mission and vision.
Our mission is to provide those who are Deaf/deaf and hard of hearing the means to ensure advancement through education, economic security and good health. Our purpose is to strategically remove the cultural, communication, and language barriers. We believe our affordable living community, Martha’s Vineyards Place, will help us achieve this.