ASL career spotlight: Deaf advocacy – Part 1

William Woods ASL

 ASL interpreting students learn the importance of Deaf advocacy. When you study ASL and Deaf culture, you learn to understand an exceptional community, one you inherently become an advocate for — no matter what career you choose.

But there are various advocacy organizations and causes students of sign may become especially passionate about — ones that they may pursue as careers.

In addition to ASL coursework, bachelors in interpretation studies students study various social work topics as well as psychological and sociological ideas surrounding the importance of advocacy.  At William Woods, some of these courses include Child Development and Behavior, Social Welfare and Human Behavior in the Environment.

Over the next two Look into ASL blogs, we will cover a few examples of Deaf advocacy organizations, and how getting involved may be a career in ASL you’d like to pursue.

One advocacy organization, for example is LEAD-K, Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids. Their mission is to promote early language learning of ASL so that Deaf children are kindergarten-ready.

It’s a mission backed by research from the Science of Learning Center at Gallaudet University on “Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2)” that shows the importance of language acquisition during the first five years of a child’s life.

LEAD-K asserts that language deprivation or delays are the main cause of Deaf children’s eventual reading, academic and social struggles.

“How can you learn language later if you don’t build a strong foundation within the first five years? That’s why we push ASL and English equally. Teach both, not this or that. Give ASL and English both,” Julie Rems-Smario, LEAD-K advocate and team member said in an interview with DeafNation.

Rems-Smario says that the system must look at a whole child — their language, their expression, their ability to think and analyze, their ability for discussion and communication, and their creativity.

“Language is power,” she says, “Now, VL2, Gallaudet’s research has proven signing benefits children. It saves their lives.”

LEAD-K campaigns nationwide in public relations, legalization and advocacy, and other mediums to help prepare Deaf kids for kindergarten and success in school.

Their current co-spokesperson, Deaf actor and model Nyle DiMarco, won America’s Next Top Model in December and has continued to be involved speaking in schools, at events and more. (Watch him sign with Aiden in a video at a LEAD-K event here.)