Interviews

 

beadhh will be interviewing local advocates to learn lessons from their advocacy experience and share best practices. Please check this page regularly as new interviews will be added over time.

 

BYUNG GYU LIM INTERVIEW

(April 26, 2017)

  1. Name, job, organization (organization name is optional)

Byung Gyu Lim, President of Bay Area Asian Deaf Association (BAADA)

 
2. How do you identify yourself – deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened?

Deaf

3. What does your organization need most in support or advocacy? 

BAADA needs more youth Asian members, partnerships, and resources.

4. What is the advocacy goal of your organization?

To empower the Asian Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to find pride in their culture and  heritage. To provide a network to facilitate communication, understanding and friendship among the national and international Asian Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

5. What is your area of advocacy? (families, seniors, captioning, video relay service, technology for example)?

Bay Area college students, seniors, families, people of color, and Asian people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

6. What is the next project in relation to advocacy (yours or your organization’s)?

Recently, we hosted a big annual event called Lunar New year. May is Asian History month. We want to host two different presentations during that month. We plan to have one presentation explain the history of our organization: how and where it was established, what is the organization’s purpose, and what we hope to achieve over the next few years during our tenure as its officers. The second presentation will have a guest speaker discuss intersectionality, viewing Asian Americans through the intersectionality lens.

7. What makes a good advocate? Skills?

Keep our passion to give back to our community. We have different thoughts, but we listen to each other. We want to listen to our members for their concerns and ideas.

8. What are your personal strengths that have made you an effective advocate?

I am always learning and willing to adjust to fit my organization’s needs. I work to make sure our organization grows and returns to its prior strength. We are youth adult officers and we are willing to learn from our former officers’ advice.

9. What problems/roadblocks do you face when you try to advocate?

Our biggest roadblock would be recruiting members our age to be involved with our organization, regardless of whether they are Asian or not. They don’t understand the importance of our organization and how important their support means to us.

10. Do you have a clear and concise message when you advocate? What is the message?

We want the Asian community to know that they have a safe haven where they can come and receive the support they need, regardless of what that need may be. We want them to be proud of their race, not to shy away from their identity.

11. How do you remain strategically focused when you are given bad news?

Never give up, if we get bad news, then we always have Plan B. Refocus and always keep moving on with a positive attitude.

12. Can you give an example where you nurtured relationships and worked collaboratively?

We are working together with Bay Area Black Deaf Advocate (BABDA), California School for the Deaf, Fremont (International Studies), and local colleges (Ohlone college and Berkeley City College). One idea we had was holding a joint picnic or a movie event where our organizations can share information about our various cultures and food traditions, and provide support to one another.

13. Have you every engaged the public through social media, petitions, letters, emails, other grassroots strategies? What has worked for you?

Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, and website, www.baada.us

14. What is missing (falling through the cracks) in deaf/hard of hearing advocacy?

Deaf-Blind and Senior advocacy

15. What kind of communication access do you use (list)? What is missing in that access?

American Sign Language (ASL), Video Relay Service, Interpreters, and sometimes write on a paper. What is missing: Deaf-Blind access

16. Please share a personal story related to advocacy.

Former BAADA officers believe in us because we are the first youth adult officers of BAADA. They encourage us to empower youth Deaf Asian people to become better leadership for our future.

17. What do you recommend to a person beginning their own personal journey of advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing?

Never give up. Do not let anyone pull you down and keep your chin up. There will always be challenges, and don’t show your negative vibe. If there is bad news, then there will be good news. “You lose if you are nervous, and you win if you are excited”

 

LYNNETTE WILLIAMS INTERVIEW

(November 18, 2016)

  1. Name, job, organization 

Lynnette Williams, Vice President, Bay Area Black Deaf Advocates (BABDA)

  1. How do you identify yourself – deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened?

Deaf.

  1. What does your organization need most in support or advocacy?

Partnership.

  1. What is the advocacy goal of your organization?

We have three goals: (1) educate our members, (2) empower them regarding their civil rights, (3) provide resources.

  1. What is your area of advocacy? (families, seniors, captioning, video relay service, technology for example)

Seniors, youth, people of color.

  1. What is the next project in relation to advocacy (yours or your organization’s)?

We recently held a town hall meeting related to video relay services (VRS). We also videotaped #takebackCSD. We are currently in the planning process for our next advocacy project.

  1. What makes a good advocate? Skills?

Keep your passion for the organization’s advocacy goals. Be prepared for advocacy taking a lot of time. Maintain good communication with other organization members, teamwork, and mutual respect.

  1. What are your personal strengths that have made you an effective advocate?

I always keep learning, accept new challenges, adapt to new skill level requirements. I make sure the organization continues to operate and not break down. I desire change. I am not easily distracted from the organization’s needs and the needs of its advocacy goals.

  1. What problems/roadblocks do you face when you try to advocate?

Other deaf community members perceive our purpose being related to Black Lives Matter, but that is not our mission. Our mission is to raise the quality of life of people of color.

  1. Do you have a clear and concise message when you advocate? What is the message?

BABDA shall be organized and operated mainly to promote the leadership development, economic and educational opportunity, social equality, and to safeguard the general health and welfare of Black deaf and hard of hearing people.

  1. How do you remain strategically focused when you are given bad news?

I back up and refocus with the group and process what has happened and plan the next steps.

  1. Can you give an example where you nurtured relationships and worked collaboratively?

We worked together with California Association of the Deaf (CAD), and CSD-Union SEIU 1000 in videotaping #takebackCSD. We have worked collaboratively with DCARA, setting up booths at their events. We also worked with SFDC and NORCAL to plan events.

  1. Have you every engaged the public through social media, petitions, letters, emails, other grassroots strategies? What has worked for you?

Vlogs, MailChimp, email, live streaming on Facebook.

  1. What is missing (falling through the cracks) in deaf/hard of hearing advocacy?

Deaf-blind advocacy.

  1. What kind of communication access do you use (list)? What is missing in that access?

I use American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting, Certified deaf interpreting, vlogs. What I have seen missing in general is Deaf-blind tactile signing accessibility.

  1. Please share a personal story related to advocacy.

Last year I went to the National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) conference in Louisville, Kentucky. It was an eye opener! I learned so much! I came back and rolled up my sleeves ready to get to work. Next year the conference will be in Baltimore and I will definitely be attending.

  1. What do you recommend to a person beginning their own personal journey of advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing?

Keep an open mind, listen carefully, focus on teamwork. If you don’t understand something, ask again. It is important for us to accept our own mistakes and keep open communication always.

 

JIM LAFFER INTERVIEW

(November 12,  2016)

  1. Name, job, organization 

Jim Laffer, Group Leader, Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)-San Jose

  1. How do you identify yourself – deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened?

Late-deafened

  1. What does your organization need most in support or advocacy?

We’d like ideas for things to advocate. We’d also like leads towards advocacy efforts that are currently happening so we can participate. If someone has an idea on advocacy we are open to supporting them and even asking group members if they want to get involved.

  1. What is the advocacy goal of your organization?

We focus mostly on captioning efforts as it seems the most effective way to make the world accessible for all people. However, while ALDA Inc., the national organization, has been very much involved in advocacy for many years, our local group is new to advocacy efforts and has not done much at this time.

  1. What is your area of advocacy? (families, seniors, captioning, video relay service, technology for example)

I focus on captioning and technology. That includes my work for a leading captioned telephone company.

  1. What is the next project in relation to advocacy (yours or your organization’s)?

We had some recent successes, but one of our main drives has been caption access at entertainment events like plays and movies. We will continue to advocate for more captions at theaters and will be revisiting the captioned movie situation in the future, but are awaiting a DOJ ruling on that before we proceed.

  1. What makes a good advocate? Skills?

Optimism and perseverance are the skills that work well in general. Willingness to confront people and organizations to do what you want is the first step. If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there, you won’t succeed. Often it’s as simple as making a request as I did a few months back at a local movie theater. However, be prepared to be told no and then be sure you know what to do next. It’s important to be willing to follow through with legal actions if necessary. Do you have someone who will advocate for you in a court of law? Will they work pro bono or for fees to be recovered at the time of judgment?

  1. What are your personal strengths that have made you an effective advocate?

I am an optimistic person who believes that change can happen if you try. I have not done much personal advocacy work but the ALDA – SJ group has been involved in some things and I have helped make those things happen by backing the efforts on behalf of the group when a member is involved.

  1. What problems/roadblocks do you face when you try to advocate?

Mostly I just don’t have enough time. I haven’t done much personal advocacy and the recent success I had was tempered by the fact the movie theater – which had agreed to show a few open caption movies on Saturdays – reneged on their end of the deal after a few short weeks and did not make an honest attempt to see the program succeed.

  1. Do you have a clear and concise message when you advocate? What is the message?

I ask for help from the organization and try to paint it as a potential positive for them to be tapping into a new market. If they see it as a potential gain then they are more willing to get involved voluntarily, but again, I am always willing to back it up with the threat of legal action if they aren’t willing to comply.

  1. How do you remain strategically focused when you are given bad news?

I’m currently dealing with this exact issue given the movie theater issue I mentioned above. I have forwarded the information regarding their backing out of our deal to the lawyer we work with. I doubt we will be proceeding with legal actions at this time due to other factors, but I want to keep him informed of the situation. Document the bad news, plan your next steps and then follow through.

  1. Can you give an example where you nurtured relationships and worked collaboratively?

In a separate advocacy effort from this past winter involving two separate live theater companies I was able to keep information flowing between the lawyer and the people who were acting as named plaintiffs in a potential lawsuit. I was able to help guide both of these efforts to successful conclusions. Though I was not the person in direct contact with the theater companies, by lending support and offering the group backing in legal efforts should they become necessary, I helped move things forward to a successful conclusion in both cases. These live theater companies continue to caption plays to this day and are planning on continuing next year for the new season and for all seasons to follow.

  1. Have you ever engaged the public through social media, petitions, letters, emails, other grassroots strategies? What has worked for you?

Mostly I work with online efforts to spread the news about an action we want to follow through on. I forward requests for signatures on petitions, post them online in a group Facebook page and share them electronically with the group via email. I find those to be the most effective means because I don’t have to rely on people showing up to an event or spend money on postage.

  1. What is missing (falling through the cracks) in deaf/hard of hearing advocacy?

I honestly don’t have an answer to this question. I am open to suggestions, but I feel we are making great strides towards a more inclusive society and as I said our main focus has been on captioning access which is becoming more and more common. I’m willing to work with anyone on almost anything but I don’t know where we would go from here. Captions on public transportation and at live sporting events/stadiums is a great place to work on things next.

  1. What kind of communication access do you use (list)? What is missing in that access?

Email, text, captioned telephones, Bluetooth streaming. I actually feel pretty comfortable with my communication access.

  1. Please share a personal story related to advocacy.

I worked with a local movie theater chain that only has 3 outlets to get them to provide captioned movies on Saturdays. They do not have a closed-captioned system ala Captiview so were showing open captioned movies, but only on Monday mornings during the first show of the day. We had a single meeting and they immediately agreed to show open captioned movies on Saturdays every 2nd week for two movies each time. They agreed to do this on a trial run for six months. That seemed like a good compromise and I was content to give it a shot and did my part to send out regular email blasts to members of our organization announcing what the movies would be each time. Unfortunately, the theater didn’t follow through with their end of the bargain and ended up cancelling the program after1.5 months. I will be following up with our lawyer about this but do not anticipate legal action at this time though I will defer to his judgment for the most part.

  1. What do you recommend to a person beginning their own personal journey of advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing?

Be prepared to be told “no”, but stay positive and don’t be afraid to sue if necessary. You cannot win unless you try and trying costs you nothing but time and energy. Find an issue you are passionate about and focus on it then figure out how to fix that issue. Find the places that it needs fixing and then go get involved. It’s really that simple.

 

JULIE REMS SMARIO INTERVIEW

(September 27, 2016)

  1. Name, job, organization 

Julie Rems Smario, President, California Association of the Deaf

  1. How do you identify yourself – deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened?

Deaf

  1. What does your organization need most in support or advocacy?

We need more community connections to share leadership resources, people power, training sessions from individuals with know-how for organizational restructuring and community organizing.

  1. What is the advocacy goal of your organization?

Protect, promote and preserve civil, human and linguistic rights for Deaf Californians. For 2015-2017 CAD’s focus is the following five motions: 0-5 language policy, CAD endowment, employment, ASL teaching opportunities, interpreting licensure, and new CAD website.

  1. What is your area of advocacy? (families, seniors, captioning, video relay service, technology for example)

All Deaf Californians from infants to senior citizens in the areas of language rights, civil and human rights.

  1. What is the next project in relation to advocacy (yours or your organization’s)?

0-5 language policy for deaf children; LEAD-K’s SB210 Ad Hoc committee to identify language milestones tools, CAD endowment development, and the CAD website. Pending: position papers on language acquisition, employment and ASL teaching jobs.

  1. What makes a good advocate? Skills?

For CAD, understanding the legislative and policy making system impacting deaf people. Being a legislative watchdog and possessing policy making skills. Put deaf people in the driver’s seat with policy making to improve the lives of Deaf people.

  1. What are your personal strengths that have made you an effective advocate?

Willingness to try new things, persistence, relationship building, having Teflon skin to protect the passionate heart.

  1. What problems/roadblocks do you face when you try to advocate?

Prickly people who try to intentionally or unintentionally sabotage your work. Passionate, authentic communications along with Teflon skin is the key to get past this challenge.

  1. Do you have a clear and concise message when you advocate? What is the message?

Yes: “Nothing about us without us.”

  1. How do you remain strategically focused when you are given bad news?

Regroup and re-strategize. Never give up.

  1. Can you give an example where you nurtured relationships and worked collaboratively?

I like having summits and retreats to create a shared vision and a plan to mobilize. Understand form, storm, norm, perform, and repeat.

  1. Have you ever engaged the public through social media, petitions, letters, emails, other grassroots strategies? What has worked for you?

I have tried all of the above. Vlogs work best along with captions, transcript and image description. I used this approach for SB210.

  1. What is missing (falling through the cracks) in deaf/hard of hearing advocacy?

Lack of leadership training in both advocacy and schools. Bad leadership resulting from lack of experience opportunities and not acknowledging it. The key to effective leadership is to be willing to ask for help and utilize others with more experience. Always over communicate instead of assuming.

  1. What kind of communication access do you use (list)? What is missing in that access?

American Sign Language, video relay services, interpreters, captions, sometimes notetakers. What is missing in communication access is DeafBlind access…there is not enough effort in this area by Deaf people themselves. If we demand access for Deaf people, we must include the demand for access for the DeafBlind community.

  1. Please share a personal story related to advocacy.

#TakeBackCSD required that CSD-Union SEIU 1000 and CAD work together collaboratively and successfully to push for changed leadership. There is power in numbers.

  1. What do you recommend to a person beginning their own personal journey of advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing?

Be willing to be on a learning curve. Use “mistakes” as teaching moments for leadership growth. Be quick to listen. Be slow to anger. Be quick to own up.

 

ANN THOMAS INTERVIEW

(September 20, 2016)

  1. Name, job, organization 

Ann Thomas, President, Hearing Loss Association of America-Diablo Valley Chapter

  1. How do you identify yourself – deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened?

Hard of hearing.

  1. What does your organization need most in support or advocacy?

People willing to work on a projects, stand up, speak up.

  1. What is the advocacy goal of your organization?

Provide information, education, support and advocacy. Educate the public and government about the needs of the hearing loss community.

  1. What is your area of advocacy? (families, seniors, captioning, video relay service, technology for example)

Families, seniors, captioning, and technology. Help people learn coping strategies, how to use technology and resources.

  1. What is the next project in relation to advocacy (yours or your organization’s)?

Educate county and city government about the needs and requirement for effective communication. Contact the California Commission on Disability Access, Division of State Architects and Voluntary Certified Access Specialist (CASp) program about the lack of attention to access for hearing loss.

  1. What makes a good advocate? Skills?

Being knowledgeable, having courage, possessing good communication skills, being fully prepared, not being intimidated, being willing to go to the highest level in an organization to get results.

  1. What are your personal strengths that have made you an effective advocate?

Persistence, knowledgeable about advocacy topics, follow-through, and follow up! I have a desire for change, am quick thinking, and am able to communicate difficult, complex and technical information in a way people can understand.

  1. What problems/roadblocks do you face when you try to advocate?

Lack of awareness, genuine lack of caring by organizations we advocate to regarding our needs.

  1. Do you have a clear and concise message when you advocate? What is the message?

It’s the law! Hearing loss is not a one-size fits all situation. We are very diverse in our needs – from Deaf to mild hearing loss.

  1. How do you remain strategically focused when you are given bad news?

Take a break, so I can respond unemotionally.

  1. Can you give an example where you nurtured relationships and worked collaboratively?

Getting captions for live theatre in Contra Costa County: CalShakes, Berkeley Rep.

  1. Have you ever engaged the public through social media, petitions, letters, emails, other grassroots strategies? What has worked for you?

Yes. Communicating in person works the best.

  1. What is missing (falling through the cracks) in deaf/hard of hearing advocacy?

Across the board entities are not providing effective communication for people with hearing loss. The ADA is not new. Federal, state, county, and city governments are not complying. Hospitals, pharmacies, businesses are not complying. It is necessary to identify the state agencies that can enact change and advocate to them.

  1. What kind of communication access do you use (list)? What is missing in that access?

I use hearing aids, FM systems, hearing loops, neck loops. Audiologists and hearing aid providers are not informing clients of all of their options, such as telecoil settings.

  1. Please share a personal story related to advocacy.

I am always surprised by how few people have awareness of people with hearing loss, especially since we are the largest disability group in the US and hearing loss is a covered disability under the ADA and civil rights laws. This is nothing new. The ADA is over 25 years old.

  1. What do you recommend to a person beginning their own personal journey of advocating for the deaf and hard of hearing?

Ask! Ask for an accommodation so that you can function in society. If they say they don’t have accommodations, follow up. Contact the highest level of authority to make change happen.