Maine's Annual Tea Celebrating Deaf Culture Happening September 16 Bookmark and Share

September 14, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 13, 2021

Maine's Annual Tea Celebrating Deaf Culture Happening September 16

AUGUSTA - In celebration of Deaf culture and the heritage of American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf literature, art and folklore, Governor Janet T. Mills has issued a proclamation designating the week of Sept. 19 through 25, 2021, as Deaf Culture Week. The Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened will hold its 30th Annual Deaf Culture Award Ceremony and Tea virtually on September 16 from 2 to 4 p.m.

"The Deaf community has its own language, culture, history and traditions which have shaped our state for generations. The many contributions of Deaf people to the State of Maine should be celebrated," said Governor Mills. I am honored to declare September 19 through September 25 as Deaf Culture Week and thank the Department of Labor for recognizing the achievements of all Maine people.

The 30th Annual Award Ceremony and Tea will take place on Sept. 16, 2021, from 2 to 4 p.m., virtually on Zoom:

*Note: Room will be opened for attendees at 1:45PM.

This year, the commission will present seven awards in six categories to individuals who have contributed to Deaf culture in Maine. Award recipients are:

  • Citizenship Youth Award Marlaco Bethune
  • Special Recognition Award Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D., Director, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Ginny Hewes Advocate for the Needs of the Deaf Community Award Melinda Stamp
  • Outstanding Citizenship Award Craig Hamilton Taylor
  • Special Commendation Award Maine Hands & Voices
  • Special Recognition Award Dr. Toni H. Rees
  • Clifton F. Rodgers Lifetime Achievement Award Melinda Smith Meyers

Emma Foster will give the keynote address.

The Division for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened, part of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) in the Maine 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 harnessing the many skills and experiences of people with disabilities, Mills said. The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services can assist both workers and employers through vocational rehabilitation, training assistance and advice.

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).