Thinking about holding our first big grant meeting for the DeafBlind Interpreting National Training & Resource Center over three days in Seattle with a majority of the meeting participants being DeafBlind community leaders and key stakeholders was exciting. Simultaneously, I imagined potential challenges could arise, but having been a part of this community for over two decades, I knew it would also present intangible –and literally tangible—rewards that regularly remind me why I got into studying interpreting and Deaf/DeafBlind Culture.
Sure, it was a lot of advance work to coordinate all the travel, lodging, meeting location details, SSP and interpreter logistics. Yet once everyone comes together and there is ProTactile ASL as far as you can touch, it makes all those pesky details melt. It’s what we aspire to create in this grant: a PTASL-accessible environment for everyone. It was an education for all involved—learning about our grant goals and activities over the five years, and learning how to give in-the-moment information and feedback that affirms our inclusive environment and an autonomous one for all. It was a long three-days, but the immersive environment was a great refresher for those more experienced in PTASL and opened up a whole new world and created a lot of “aha!” moments for those who were touching it for the first time.
I can’t wait to see how many more folks, DeafBlind, hearing/sighted, hard of hearing, are all more PTASL-savvy at the end of this grant. I hope we feel a little closer to one another and validate the DeafBlind community’s language in the process.
Touch you later,
CM Hall, Ed.M., NIC Advanced, EIPA K-12, is the DBI Project Manager. CM has volunteered in the DeafBlind community since 1992 and created an academic service-learning project for ASL-fluent students to engage with the DeafBlind community, partnering with the Washington State DeafBlind Citizens organization and the annual Seabeck DeafBlind Retreat.