Sixteenth Annual Deaf Culture Week Celebration Honors Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds Bookmark and Share

September 20, 2007

Note: Why is the word deaf capitalized in different places in this press release?

“Deaf" is often capitalized when written, and it refers to a tight-knit cultural group of people whose primary language is signed, and who practice social and cultural norms which are distinct from those of the surrounding hearing community.

Augusta – In celebration of Deaf culture and the heritage of American Sign Language and Deaf literature, art, and folklore, Governor John Baldacci recently issued a proclamation designating the week of September 23 through 29 as Deaf Culture Week.

Building up to the week long schedule of activities for the Deaf community, an award ceremony was held yesterday at Blaine House Tea for individuals who have contributed to Deaf Culture in Maine. Six awards were presented this year in five categories. Recipients are as follows:

Clifton F. Rodgers Award – A lifetime achievement award

  • Senator Beth Edmonds – Senator Edmonds has sponsored numerous bills to improved the lives of individuals in the Deaf or hard of hearing community. Her backing of the Baxter Compensation Authority Legislation is just one example in which Edmonds has supported the Deaf Community.

Outstanding Role Model for the Deaf Community Award

  • Brenda Schertz – Brenda is a professor of ASL at The University of Southern Maine. She is one of the founders of Maine’s Deaf Film Festival and she organized Maine’s Deaf Women’s conference in 2006.
  • Terry Morrell – Terry who provides counseling to Deaf individuals and families, also volunteers as an ASL consultant for performances in the Portland area, he was chosen by Hamilton Relay as a role model in Maine’s Deaf Community.

Outstanding Advocate for the Needs of the Deaf Community Award

  • Karen Hopkins – Karen works as an early childhood and family services coordinator at Maine Educational Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf. Her work with parents and children with hearing loss is balanced and supportive.

Special Commendation Awards

  • Deborah S. Myers – Deborah is a nationally certified sign language interpreter who has recently added job coaching and career exploration in ASL for Deaf individuals in her business KEWL ASL, Inc.
Promoting ASL, Deaf Culture and Deaf People
  • Rebecca Kane – Rebecca has organized events in the Waterville schools to celebrate and teach students about Deaf Culture and the ASL as a language.

“In her time in the Legislature Senator Edmonds has worked tirelessly to promote fairness and opportunity for Maine people who are Deaf and hard of hearing,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “The lifetime achievement award is a well deserved recognition of her efforts.”

The Blaine House Tea was hosted by Governor Baldacci, the Maine Department of Labor Division of Deafness, and the Division of Deafness Advisory Council. The keynote speaker was Terry Morrell, a clinical therapist for deaf counseling services at Community Counseling Center in the Portland. The theme of his speech was “Coming Together.”