25th Annual Award Ceremony and Tea in Hall of Flags Sept. 15 Bookmark and Share

September 2, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2016 CONTACT: Julie Rabinowitz 621-5009; Nancy Melanson 623-7958 (voice); 623-7998 (TTY)

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. 18 through 24, 2016, 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 25th Annual Award Ceremony and Tea on Sept. 15, 2016, 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 — Dr. Romy Spitz

Ginny Hewes Award ~ Advocate for the Needs of the Deaf Community Award — Larissa J. Pelletier

Special Commendation Award — Duane Dufour

Promoting ASL, Deaf Culture and Deaf People Award — Christopher J. Walsh

Outstanding Citizenship Award — Darleen Hutchins

Citizenship Youth Award — Brittany Foley

Catherine J. Lushman will give the keynote address titled "Role Models and People Who Taught Me". Catherine J. Lushman was born in a small community called Grey River, Newfoundland. Deafness in her family is genetic. She attended Newfoundland School for the Deaf in St. John’s and she graduated in 1987. She has an undergraduate degree in Developmental Drama and Deaf Education from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and a master's degree in Deaf Education from Western Maryland College. She began her career as a drama teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas. Catherine has taught preschool through third grade at the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 1996. She currently resides in Maine with her partner Rob and their daughter Norah Jane.

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 .