Deafhood: Synergy of Deaf Communities.
The Deafhood Foundation is dedicated to achieving economic and social justice for all Deaf people.
The Deafhood Foundation will provide financial, educational and social opportunities to end the economic exploitation of Deaf people. The Foundation aims to free the world from audism and recreate a society where everyone experiences full humanity and celebrates Sign Language.
Deafhood Foundation promotes the empowering concept of DEAFHOOD which is described as a journey that each Deaf person undertakes to discover his/her identity and purpose in this life as a Deaf person among other people and is a positive approach to re-affirming Deaf people’s role and place in society, history and the world. Deafhood also focuses on the historical, cultural and linguistic reality of Deaf people, and maintains a larger worldview as opposed to minimizing the community into miserable (or glorified) individuals who seek access solely through hearing. Before Deafhood Foundation, practically all foundations associated with Deaf people focused on their hearing loss, which are DEAFNESS-centered which viewed the identity as negative, a deficit, and in need of a cure.
Starting during the 1960’s, the world experienced a resurgence of positive views on Deaf people when linguists scientifically proved what Deaf people have long known, that our Sign Languages are bona fide languages with their distinctive grammar and vocabulary. Since then, Deaf people’s creativity and activism have been increasing in confidence and being visible in public. Positive changes in Deaf education, jobs, wellness have emerged.
However, between the 1970’s and the 2000’s the Deaf community has been hit with three main backlashes: mainstreaming, cochlear implants and genetic engineering. While the community continues its vibrancy and connections, these powerful backlashes have been eating away the foundation of Deaf collectivism, joy and existence. According to Paddy Ladd, we need to keep on building a mountain of positive Deaf philosophies, creativity, arts, politics, so tall that the tsunami from those three backlashes will not totally erode the livelihood and existence of Deaf people from the earth.
The Foundation adds to the building of that mountain by providing Deaf people and our allies tools through education, dialogues, arts, and grants.
Painting by Nancy Rouke
The first gathering to create the Foundation at Asilomar Conference Center, Pacific Grove, California in February 2007.
Front: (l to r): Judy Gough and Ella Mae Lentz
Middle row (l to r): Colin Piotrowski, Danny Lacey, Marvin Miller, Kathy Say, Clark Brooke, Joey Baer
Back Row (l to r): Kevin Clark, Don Grushkin, Nancy Mitchell, David Eberwein, Butch Zein
The idea for the Deafhood Foundation began in 2007 after a few years of examining and re-framing the political, economic and ideological powers surrounding Deaf communities, inspired in great part by the book “Understanding Deaf Culture: in search of Deafhood” (Ladd 2003). Fifteen Deaf people with expertise and passion in economics, social justice, organizational development, Deaf culture and American Sign Language, came to a few weekend retreats and created the mission, vision and goals for the Foundation. In 2009, the Foundation was incorporated in California and granted a tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. Most of the original group became founding board members. A
Since its inception until 2017, the Foundation has given out annual grants ranging from $2500 to $5000, provided Deafhood 101 and 201 classes to almost 1000 Deaf people, organized several Allies in Deafhood presentations, produced several The Deafhood Monologues shows in various cities, hosted two Deafhood Banquets and a Deafhood Film Festival, translated the first third of Ladd’s book, introduced the idea of DEJI (Deaf Economic Justice Indicator) and received an award from the California Association of the Deaf.
In 2017 and beyond, the Foundation aims to steadily increase the amount and number of grants to give out to the community, create an Institute with expanded class offerings, complete the translation work of Ladd’s book, continue with the Banquets, and continue to provide the community with spaces for essential and healing dialogues to bring economic and social justice to ALL Deaf people.
Dr. Paddy Ladd
Honorary Member, Author & Creator of “Deafhood”
Paddy was a lecturer and MSC Coordinator at the now Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of Bristol. He completed his Ph.D. in Deaf Culture at Bristol University in 1998 and had written, edited and contributed to numerous publications in the field. Both his writing and his Deaf activism have received international recognition.
He received the Francis Maginn Award “For Lifetime Achievement for the Deaf Community” from the British Deaf Association (2004); the E.M. Gallaudet Award for “International Leadership in Promoting the Well-Being of Deaf People of the World” from Gallaudet University (2009); and the Deaf Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federation of Deaf People for activities which have extended the possibilities for Deaf communities in the UK and worldwide (1998). He was also added to the British Deaf Association Roll of Honour for “Outstanding Contributions to the Deaf Community in Deaf Education” (2007).
Founding Board Members
Dr. Patrick Boudreault served 2007 – 2010
Clark Brooke served 2007 – 2010
Mel Carter served 2008 – 2014
Kevin Clark served 2007 – 2017
David Eberwein served 2007 – 2013
Dr. Genie N. Gertz served 2007 – 2011
Judy Gough serves 2007 – present
Ella Mae Lentz serves 2007 – present
Marvin T. Miller served 2007 – 2017
Colin Piotrowski served 2007 – 2013
Kathy Say served 2007 – 2014
Butch Zein served 2007 – 2014
Past Board Members
Ritchie Bryant served 2013 – 2015
Leang Hu Ngov served 2015
Melvin Patterson served 2013 – 2014
Timothy Riker served 2013 – 2017
Kristen Weiner (Rajarajeshwari) served 2013 – 2015