National Association of the Deaf -

Survey for Ages 18-30

News from - September 12, 2017 - 9:18am

Are you between the ages of 18-30 years old? The NAD developed a survey (available in ASL and English) for you to share input that will help us 1) identify areas to improve and 2) learn what our strengths are. #NADyouth

Lifespan Sued For Violating Deaf Rights

News from - September 12, 2017 - 7:33am

Sept. 12, 2017 – Providence, Rhode Island.  The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, and Eisenberg & Baum, LLP filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal laws on September 6, 2017 against the Lifespan Corporation, Lifespan Physicians Group, and Rhode Island Hospital. This lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) and two long-time Rhode Island residents, Kathryn Arcana and Peggy Merhi. The lawsuit alleges that Lifespan Hospitals violated the rights of Ms. Arcana and Mrs. Merhi by not providing effective communication in the form of qualified on-site sign language interpreter services at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital. Ms. Arcana and Mrs. Merhi are deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary means of communication. The lawsuit also alleges that RIAD and its members have been negatively affected by the lack of communication access.

Ms. Arcana brought her young son to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the pediatric division of Rhode Island Hospital, on multiple occasions due to complications related to a chronic illness, including surgery for organ removal. At critical times, Hasbro failed to provide on-site interpreting services to facilitate communication between Ms. Arcana and hospital personnel, leaving her without an effective means to share and receive information regarding her sick child. Instead, Hasbro occasionally used a remote service known as Video Remote Interpreting, but the service was never effective.

Mrs. Merhi also went to Hasbro Children’s Hospital to seek services for a sick child. She also accompanied her late husband, who was also deaf and used ASL as his primary means of communication to another location, to Rhode Island Hospital on multiple occasions as he battled cancer. The hospitals were not consistent in providing sign language interpreter services, leaving Mrs. Merhi and her husband without an effective means of communicating with hospital personnel. As with Hasbro, Rhode Island Hospital occasionally used Video Remote Interpreting services. The service was rarely effective.

The Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) has joined the lawsuit to represent the interests of deaf and hard of hearing individuals across Rhode Island who have faced similar struggles. The RIAD has devoted many hours to advocating for improved access for its constituency of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Rhode Island, and seeks to ensure that hospitals provide in-person interpreters.

Todd Murano, acting President of the RIAD states, “On behalf of the Rhode Island Association of the Deaf, the members of this organization and the Deaf community have experienced tremendous stress and suffered frustration in receiving unclear and unequal communication access from in hospitals in Rhode Island.  Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, hospitals in Rhode Island have neglected Deaf patients by providing inadequate access to accommodations which infringe on Deaf individual’s basic human rights. We expect swift changes to communication access and infrastructure in Rhode Island.”

# # #

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by, and for, deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States. The NAD’s mission is to protect, preserve, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

The Rhode Island Disability Law Center (RIDLC), a federally funded not for profit law office, is Rhode Island’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System.  P&As provide legal advocacy regarding disability-related issues.  RIDLC’s mission is to assist individuals “…in their efforts to achieve full inclusion in Rhode Island….”   Full inclusion requires access to effective communication by health care providers.

Eisenberg & Baum, LLP is a New York-based law firm representing deaf and hard of hearing individuals in discrimination lawsuits nationwide. The Eisenberg & Baum, LLP Deaf Law Center has a team of professionals dedicated to promoting deaf rights and advancing policy changes across the country for the betterment of the deaf community.

The Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) is a grassroots Deaf-advocacy organization in Rhode Island. Its mission is to advocate and facilitate changes in the quality of life for the Rhode Island Deaf Community by working to improve awareness, condition, and opportunities for its members in all aspects of life: civic, economic, social, academic, and recreational.


  • National Association of the Deaf; Caroline Jackson,, (301) 587-7466
  • Rhode Island Disability Law Center; Kate Bowden,, (401) 831-3150
  • Eisenberg & Baum, LLP; Andrew Rozynski,, (212) 353-8700


Position Announcement for NAD Youth Programs

News from - September 8, 2017 - 10:34am

Are you someone who is a dynamic, energetic, and creative individual? Then we’re looking for YOU to lead the NAD Youth Programs! With this position, the person would oversee all aspects of the Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) every summer. In addition, throughout the school year, this person promotes the Junior NAD (Jr. NAD) program at schools and programs for deaf students across the country. During the biennial NAD conference, this person is responsible for the exciting Youth Ambassador Program (YAP) and the thrilling College Bowl (CoBo) program.

Position Requirements
  • Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts or related field.
  • At least three years of relevant professional or equivalent experience.
  • Experience in overseeing and managing youth-related events/programs.
  • Ability to multi-task and handle competing priorities and deadlines.
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively with diverse internal and external groups.
  • Ability to handle financial budget for various youth programs and events.
  • Familiarity with theories, principles, and practices common to the field of youth development and leadership.
  • Excellent communication (written and presentation) and organizational skills.
  • Fluency in American Sign Language (ASL), with knowledge of deaf culture and heritage.
  • Experience or interest in grant-writing and fundraising.
Position Duties
  • Oversees and manages Jr. NAD, Youth Leadership Camp, Youth Ambassador Program, and College Bowl programs and other related activities.
  • Hires and supervises youth programs staff and volunteers.
  • Supports youth committees and provides input.
  • Manages youth events and other related activities at biennial NAD conferences.
  • Ensures program policy in compliance for all youth programs and other activities.
  • Maintains youth programs database and webpages.
  • Works closely with Director of Communications to develop marketing materials and recruit writers for various publication use.
  • Researches youth trends and demographics to evaluate current programs and plan strategically for the future.
  • Develops and monitors annual youth programs budget.
  • Conducts fundraising activities and secures sponsorships for youth-related events.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.
  • Salary range: $40,000 – $60,000; salary will be commensurate with candidate’s experience, with benefits.
  • The successful candidate will perform the required duties described above at the Silver Spring, Maryland office of the NAD as well as at the Youth Leadership Camp site and other locations where required.
  • Please submit your cover letter, resume, list of three references, three writing samples, and any other relevant materials to with the subject “NAD Youth Programs Interest – [insert your last name]”.
APPLY BY: October 1, 5:00 PM EST

For the past eight years, the NAD was fortunate to have Allie Rice coordinating and directing our Youth Programs. As she wraps up her tenure at the NAD, she shares, “With the support of many of you, I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to lead and strengthen the NAD Youth Programs. It is a bittersweet feeling that I leave the NAD for new challenges. I am beyond grateful for a team of passionate individuals who work and engage in promoting positive youth development all over the nation. Ultimately, the new person will bring in new possibilities and make a lasting impact on deaf and hard of hearing youth. All in all, I will continue my commitment in pursuing the mission of the NAD.”

“The NAD will miss the energy and dedication that Allie brought to all of its essential youth programs,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, NAD CEO. “She has contributed to the continuing success of the Youth Leadership Camp, ensured the vitality of the Junior NAD program, expanded the College Bowl to include teams from other universities, and oversaw the transition from Miss Deaf America to the Youth Ambassador Program. We are grateful for her leadership over the past eight years and wish her much success in her new endeavors.”

Being Prepared for Disasters and Emergencies

News from - September 7, 2017 - 6:25pm

Recent hurricanes have been devastating for many people leading to loss of lives and homes. Everyone should take these hurricanes and other disasters very seriously. It is important to be prepared.

Part of being prepared is knowing what to expect and where to get information when disasters and emergencies happen. This is especially important for deaf and hard of hearing people.

The NAD has a Public Policy Committee which has an Emergency Management Expert Group, and this expert group is led by Neil McDevitt. This video by Neil McDevitt explains the steps necessary to advocate for access for deaf and hard of hearing people, and what deaf and hard of hearing people need to do to be prepared. Please watch this important video and be ready for upcoming weather conditions.

Emergency Management position paper


Two New Staff Members Join the NAD!

News from - September 7, 2017 - 8:23am

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is pleased to announce the addition of two staff members that will join us at our headquarters office in Silver Spring, Maryland! We welcome Thinaja Nadarajah and Kriston Lee Pumphrey to the NAD. Beginning this summer, these two additional staff members will enhance the experience of the NAD’s front desk and overall operations at Headquarters.

Just before summer started, two great people have gone on to new opportunities and are no longer with the NAD office.  Violet Blake, the NAD Front Desk Receptionist from 2016-2017, left to travel North America. Jazzy Jones, the NAD Communication Specialist from 2014-2017, went on to work with Outreach programs at the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID). We miss Violet and Jazzy greatly and look forward to crossing paths with them again soon.

Thinaja is the NAD’s new Office Manager. She will oversee all Front Desk operations and ensure smooth operations at the NAD Headquarters. She will work closely with Kriston Lee as well as all staff members. Kriston Lee will be working part-time as the NAD Front Desk Receptionist. Kriston Lee will support Thinaja and ensure flawless communications between the Front Desk and the NAD.

Photo description: Thinaja on the left and Kriston Lee on the right are standing together,
smiling towards the camera, in front of the Front Desk. The NAD logo appears in the background.


Thinaja Nadarajah
Thinaja is a first-generation college graduate from Gallaudet University with Bachelor of Arts in Psychology along with two minors in Communication Studies and Deaf Studies. She expanded her paraprofessional experiences at Gallaudet University working with several organizations: Campus Activities as a front desk assistant; Youth Programs as a student ambassador; and at the NAD as an intern. Thinaja grew up in one of the most diversity cities, Toronto, Canada, with two deaf siblings. Her deaf parents migrated from Sri Lanka. Thinaja is a “Do-It-Yourself” junkie, a foodie, and a cat lover. She also enjoys traveling to new places to learn and experience unique cultures.


Kriston Lee Pumphrey
Kriston Lee is a DTV News Anchor, performing artist, deaf community organizer, and curator.  Kriston Lee graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009 with a degree in business and communications. Since then, Kriston Lee co-founded Colorfest, a deaf LGBT leadership conference for college students hosted at Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Kriston Lee also co-founded a Washington, D.C. community-based ASL trivia fostering fellowship and knowledge of the world in ASL. Kriston Lee continues to immerse himself in various community related advocacy work, such as having assisted DAWN, a D.C. based non-profit organization that strives to end sexual assault and domestic violence within the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Welcome to the NAD family, Thinaja and Kriston Lee!


The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.


Watch OC Movies in Pittsburgh!

News from - August 25, 2017 - 11:29am

We want you to go enjoy open captioned (OC) movies in Pittsburgh!  Email your request to before 10 AM on the day you wish to see the movie.

President Updates — August 2017

News from - August 25, 2017 - 10:39am

NAD President Melissa shares an update on each of the five priorities.

Deaf History That — “Deaf Colony”

News from - August 25, 2017 - 6:48am

Deaf and hard of hearing people always had the idea of having a place of their own. #deafhistoryTHAT #ASLstories

Ask Howard Anything / August 2017

News from - August 24, 2017 - 7:28am

Find out what the NAD has been working on in collaboration with the American Bar Association (ABA)! #AskHoward

The NAD Responds to Charlottesville

News from - August 17, 2017 - 8:12am

The NAD stands against white supremacy.


Overcrowding in Nebraska’s Prisons Has Led to Constitutional Violations

News from - August 16, 2017 - 7:11am

LINCOLN, Neb – The ACLU of Nebraska, the ACLU National Prison Project, Nebraska Appleseed, the National Association of the Deaf, and the law firms DLA Piper and Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP filed a class-action lawsuit today on behalf of eleven prisoners in Nebraska state prisons. The lawsuit seeks class action certification on behalf of all current and future prisoners in Nebraska. The lawsuit asks that the Nebraska Department of Corrections and the Nebraska Board of Parole immediately address overcrowding, and the lack of adequate health care including medical, dental, and mental health care as well as provide accommodations for prisoners who are blind, deaf, hard of hearing, or have other disabilities.

“Nebraska’s prison system has an overcrowding crisis,” said Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nebraska. “The overcrowding exacerbates already severe problems that threaten the lives and health of its prisoners. The lack of appropriate mental and physical health care hurts prisoners while inside, and upon release hampers their reentry into society. In order to protect the constitutional rights and wellbeing of incarcerated Nebraskans we need reform to the Nebraska state prison system at all levels. The diversity of the legal organizations which are working on this case show how alarming the current conditions are and the need for immediate reform. While many current lawmakers in Nebraska did not pass decades of failed tough-on-crime legislation, we cannot wait any longer for smart-on-crime policies to become the standard.”

Overall, the Nebraska prison system is at 159% of capacity, currently housing 5,228 people in a system meant for 3,275. The system has been under-resourced, understaffed, and over capacity for more than twenty years and hit emergency levels of 140% capacity a decade ago. The result is a dangerous system in perpetual crisis. Plaintiffs have repeatedly alerted state officials to these problems, most recently in a comprehensive letter sent to Governor Pete Rickets on April 10, 2017. Despite these efforts, there has been no meaningful action taken to address the overcrowded and unsafe conditions in Nebraska state prisons.

The lawsuit alleges that prisoners are routinely denied access to minimally adequate health care, held in extreme isolation, exposed to violence, and denied accommodations for prisoners who are blind, deaf, hard of hearing prisoners or have other disabilities. This includes:

  • Juveniles who have been placed in isolation repeatedly and held in five point restraints for days on end.
  • A prisoner whose diabetes went untreated, causing him to lose 90% of his eyesight in one eye.
  • A prisoner who repeatedly complained of chest pain and shortness of breath suffered a heart attack and was left to die alone in his cell.
  • Multiple prisoners who are denied auxiliary aids and services for their hearing, vision, or mobility disabilities. Prisoners with disabilities are also not provided accommodations in the parole hearing process, leading to denial of parole, longer stays, and contributing to overcrowding.
  • Multiple instances when overuse of solitary confinement, including putting two prisoners into an isolation cell designed for one, has led to violence and death.

For instance, Hannah Sabata who is 24 and incarcerated at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York. She has schizophrenia and is also living with HIV. Incarcerated since June of 2013, she has had repeated lapses in her prescription medications. Hannah has spent more than two years in isolation, which has only worsened her psychiatric disabilities. Hannah is repeatedly put in isolation solely as a means of punishment, including for failing to return a food tray. R.P, a minor with psychiatric disabilities, has been placed in restraints so frequently that the shackles have scarred his wrists and ankles. R.P is also routinely held in his cell for 23 hours a day and only allowed to exercise in a small pen.

In recent years, multiple riots, deaths and other incidents have sparked legislative committees, reviews from the Ombudsman’s office, and investigations from nationwide criminal justice experts. Despite these events, repeated warnings from prison staff, multiple reports by outside consultants and recommendations from the Nebraska Legislature, the Department of Correctional Services, led by Scott Frakes, Director, and Harbans Deol, Medical Director, has failed to take any meaningful actions to address these well-known and long-standing problems.

The overcrowded conditions have contributed to frequent violence and the overuse of isolation, inadequate mental health care, and the failure to provide rehabilitation and pre-release and reentry planning have led to dangers not only to prisoners and staff, but to public safety. Additionally, the failures in the parole system further contribute to overcrowding. Prisoners can’t complete the parole board’s requirements because there are too many prisoners for far too few programs and classes. Instead prisoners serve more time than is needed and are released without any supervision or supports to help them transition back into the community.

The horrendous conditions–as well as the lack of programing and diversion for substance abuse issues–impact Black Nebraskans disproportionately: in 2015, 28% of the prison population was Black, when only 5% of Nebraskans were Black. A Black person in Nebraska is 4.65 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white Nebraskan. The groups say that adding diversion services for those with substance abuse issues could play a role in reducing these disparities.

Among those in Nebraska’s prisons, about one-third are serving time for an offense classified as non-violent. In recent years, conservative states like Oklahoma and Texas have instituted smart on crime policies designed to improve public safety and reduce prison crowding and expenses by reserving prison for more serious offenders and diverting low level offenders and offenders with mental health or substance abuse issues to appropriate community programs. These policies and programs have been championed by conservative leaders like Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

While Nebraska’s prison system has made efforts to reduce the use of solitary confinement in recent years, the system still has a daily average of over 13.9%, which is far above the national average. Mental health experts have repeatedly warned the State of Nebraska that the use of solitary confinement, particularly involving prisoners with mental health conditions, would likely lead to violence and other harms.

“The crisis in Nebraska prisons threatens the health, safety, and lives of both prisoners and staff,” said David Fathi, Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “When state officials abdicate their responsibilities, it’s up to the courts to protect basic constitutional rights.”

“Other states, including the State of California, have been able to reduce overcrowding, without putting public safety at risk through sentencing reform and increasing opportunities for prisoners to earn discharge through good behavior and completion of educational and rehabilitative programs” explained Michael Bien of Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP. “There is no reason such efforts cannot work in Nebraska.”

“We cannot wait any longer for the actions needed to address the systemic failures of Nebraska’s prison system,” Nebraska Appleseed Executive Director Becky Gould said. “Daily, people are going without adequate health care and necessary treatment, as well as dealing with the other side effects of a system that for the last decade has continued to swell well beyond its intended capacity. This case is not only about protecting the constitutional rights of Nebraskans in our prisons, but ensuring urgent action to restore a safe and effective corrections system that benefits our entire community.”

“The State of Nebraska should immediately declare an emergency to increase programming, staffing, and parole options,” said Conrad. “More and more, it is county taxpayers who are having to pick up the tab for these failures. Public safety in Nebraska is threatened every day. The State has a responsibility to address funding for mental health and medical care and accommodations for prisoners with disabilities immediately. State Senators should continue the work they have begun in addressing Nebraska’s drug sentencing laws and diversion for nonviolent offenders and those with mental health and substance abuse issues.”

For the complaint and more information about the lawsuit:



November 21, 2017 - 11:41am

November 21, 2017 - 11:41am