Deaf History Month

March 13th through April 15th is Deaf History Month in the United States. It’s an opportunity to recognize the achievements and contributions made by deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) individuals to society. Some notable events in history was the opening of the first public school, American School for the Deaf, on April 15th, 1817. The first higher education school, Gallaudet University, opened on April 8th, 1864. On March 13th, 1988 Gallaudet University nominated I. King Jordan as their first deaf President.

To help celebrate and spread awareness of Deaf History Month, consider promoting this event in your organizations and reexamine how you can help contribute to the deaf community. As a Quality organization, what can we do to ensure we are engaging with and providing value to the deaf community? What can Sections and Divisions do to consider those who are hard of hearing in planning member unit events and meetings?

Let's consider also what we can all learn from deaf and hard of hearing people, for example, how visual cues and other non-verbal expressiveness can increase engagement and meaningful interpersonal connections. Effective communication skills are critical leadership qualities. Deaf communication tends to be more precise than hearing communication. How can we communicate more precisely, express when we don't understand something, and be aware of how our communication impacts others?

While this event is primarily observed in the United States, feel free to share any other achievements that also helped the deaf and HoH community in other parts of the world.

- ASQ Diversity & Inclusion Taskforce

Andrea Kozek
Awilda Knopes
Carolann Wolfgang
Jessica Coulon
Linda Andrade Gonzalez
Lindsay Lapatinsky
Madhusmita Nayak
Ondina Castillo
Sheronda Jeffries
Stephanie Dernek
Therese Steiner
Zubin Clark

9 Replies
Thanks Zubin Clark‍! One thing to consider as we celebrate Deaf History Month - when events are virtual, as they are currently, it can be difficult to engage when someone is hard of hearing. Consider turning on your cameras when you are speaking during a virtual session so people can get visual cues and see what you are saying. Closed captioning, when available, can also be very helpful!
Trish Borzon
867 Posts
Zubin Clark‍ - Thanks for sharing! This actually came up during the Lean & Six Sigma virtual conference last week. As a result we added closed captioning to the recordings :)
Trish, this is great!!
Hello Zubin Clark‍, 🙋
🎉 We celebrate with you around the world 🌏 the contributions of all deaf and hard of hearing people.
❗❕❗ It is very important to include deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) colleagues in conversations formatted to their communication style.📳(text vibration)
🚦✔For example, using visual explanations as well as having text caption of a voice-over. 👨‍🏫🖼(visual explanation)
🏃‍♀️🛑 The pace and tone when we speak is very important.if they are reading our lips or using a hearing aid.⚖(balance)
📢🚫 We can try not to talk too low or too loud, too fast or too slow since that can make it difficult to understand.🤷❓ (confused person)
📊✔ It is always good to know who in your community would benefit of a certain tecnique to communicate better with deaf and hard of hearing. 😁(happy person)
🕵️‍♀️✔ I would also suggest to ask our deaf and HoH audience in advance what would be their preference when communicating with them.🤝(agreement)
Have a very nice weekend! 🖖 (live long and prosper) - Ondina
That's great to hear Trish Borzon‍!
As I was reading this post on Deaf History Month, a few things resonated with me.

I typically have Jeopardy! on the tv in the evenings and last night, one of the clues was about closed captioning—“Legally deaf this Oscar-winning actress was instrumental in getting closed captioning on TV & streaming.” Question: who is Marlee Matlin? It peaked my interest, so I googled it this morning. I found articles dating back to 2014 about Matlin’s support of the closed-captioning initiative. It was then that the FCC ruled that all television programming, including streaming sites, must have closed captioning. The accuracy is important too. Words that don’t make sense, are misused, or left-out, result in an incomplete message. It makes me think about virtual meetings with a bad connection-- struggling to understand a garbled message, words or whole sentences missing, and the focus it takes to put the pieces together. The deaf and HoH community have these challenges every day.

My next thought was about my work in auditing. I started auditing a little over a year ago, and I learned about the IIA Standard 2420: Quality of Communications—Communication must be accurate, objective, clear, concise, constructive, complete, and timely. The precise communication that Zubin mentioned brought me straight to some of the qualities identified in the standard. Communications should be easily understood without a lot of technical jargon (clear), concise and to the point, with messaging that is helpful, and complete such that the audience doesn’t walk away with questions in their mind. This quality of communication is something that’s becoming more and more part of my DNA. I realize now how even more important it is in greater context.

The last thing I’ll mention is the visual cues and other non-verbals. Thinking about this reminded me of my days as a performer. On the football field, my movements had to be exaggerated to reach people in the press box. “Facials!” was a frequent criticism from coaches and show directors looking to improve the quality of facial expressions to supplement the movement. In a large event setting, I’ve also observed sign language interpreters utilize facial expressions and upper-body movements to provide additional context. This translates to my work while giving presentations. Using facial expressions and hand, upper-body, and sometimes full-body movements helps me provide emphasis where needed and improve engagement.

Thanks for initiating this conversation and giving me so many interesting things to thing about this Saturday morning!
Zubin Clark‍ Thanks for sharing!! This point really brings to ponder how the infrastructural ecosystem can be equally accessible to everyone and anyone! As Quality is our Human Right( #heardfrom&resonanted Gregory Watson webinar)!

Great thought!
Zubin – Hearing impairment, ranging from difficulty in hearing conversation to total hearing loss affects many people. Active listening and other strategies can be used to help improve conversations and improve the setting for those with hearing impairments. Speaking clearly, rephrasing or repeating important information, and maintaining eye contact can help improve conversations and increase engagement.
Jessica Coulon‍ - that's really interesting, thank you for sharing that background. Especially given the mask wearing mandated so many places this past year, it has showed me how important how I communicate aside from just my words is so critical.