Annual Deaf Culture Week Celebration and Award Ceremony Bookmark and Share

August 14, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 14, 2014

CONTACT: Julie Rabinowitz 621-5009; Nancy Melanson 623-7958 (voice); 623-7998 (TTY)

Tea in Hall of Flags Sept. 18

AUGUSTA — In celebration of Deaf culture and the heritage of American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf literature, art and folklore, Governor Paul R. LePage has issued a proclamation designating the week of Sept. 20 through 26, 2014, as Deaf Culture Week.

“Deaf Culture Week in Maine and the annual awards serve as important reminders of the many contributions of our citizens,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “I congratulate and thank all of the awardees for their achievements. Their work benefits not only people who are deaf or hard of hearing but all of our communities.”

The Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened will hold its 23rd Annual Award Ceremony and Tea on Sept. 18, 2014, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Hall of Flags at the State House. This year, the commission will present six awards in six categories to individuals who have contributed to Deaf culture in Maine. Award recipients are:

Clifton F. Rodgers Award ~ Lifetime Achievement Award — Roland Bracy, Jr., Biddeford

Ginny Hewes Award ~ Advocate for the Needs of the Deaf Community Award — Mathew A. Welch, Steep Falls

Special Commendation Award — Roger Poulin, Seattle, WA

Meritorious Support Service Provider Certificate — Roni Lepore, Pompton Lakes, NJ

Promoting ASL, Deaf Culture and Deaf People Award — Wanda McMullen, Dixmont

Outstanding Citizenship Award — Christopher J. Blair, Saco

Citizenship Youth Award — Courtney Camire, Biddeford

Ivy Velez will give the keynote address. Velez is a grassroots Deaf and Latina Community Advocate, who grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She graduated from Springfield College with a Bachelor's in Human Services. Currently, she works as an Intensive Care Coordinator at the Walden Wraparound CSA - The Learning Center for the Deaf in Framingham, Massachusetts serving families with children as part of a statewide bi-cultural, bilingual mental health care program. Velez has worked in human services for over 25 years, working to raise awareness on the value of having diversity within the workplace. Velez is also an active member of the Massachusetts State Association of the Deaf, Boston Latino Deaf Association and co-founder of Sound-Off Theatre.

The Division of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened, part of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) in the Department of Labor, works to bring about full access to employment, independence and community integration for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“I encourage employers to diversify their workforce by including people with disabilities,” said the Governor. “The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services can facilitate that through vocational rehabilitation, training assistance and advice for employers.”

For more information about hiring people with disabilities or identifying job training resources for people with disabilities, visit your local CareerCenter, call 1-855-ALL-HIRE (TTY users call Maine Relay 711) or visit http://employmentforme.org .

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