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The NAD is the nation's premier civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States of America.
Updated: 4 hours 38 min ago

President Updates / February & March 2019

March 29, 2019 - 6:16am

Melissa shares a summary about the NAD coordinating Mock Interviews on National Deaf Youth Day this year, Youth Leadership Camp Alumni Foundation (YLCAF)’s reunion weekend and YLC’s 50th Anniversary, site selection for #NAD2022, 2018-2020 Priorities, and the NAD Leadership Training Conference (NLTC) workshop topics.

Ask Howard Anything — March 2019

March 28, 2019 - 9:34am

What’s the difference between Open Captioned (OC) and Closed Captioned (CC)? #AskHoward

File a complaint with your local movie theater if your CC experience was not good.

Dear Younger Self

March 7, 2019 - 4:50pm

March 8th is International Women’s Day, some of our board members share advice to their younger selves. What advice would you give to your younger self? #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2019 #DeafWomenHistoryMonth

National Deaf Youth Day 2019

March 5, 2019 - 7:19am
VIDEO: Chanel is standing in the NAD Headquarters lobby wearing a Jr. NAD shirt.

The annual National Deaf Youth Day on March 6th celebrates the unique identity of deaf and hard of hearing youth and their accomplishments. For the first time this year, the NAD will co-host a mock interview event with four Jr. NAD chapters, one from each region, for deaf and hard of hearing students. This new event will allow students an opportunity to experience and practice their interview skills with real employers! We will be partnering with local organizations and companies to do these mock interviews. Nearly 100 deaf youth are expected to participate. The National Deaf Youth Day events are part of a larger project between NAD and The Starbucks Foundation aimed at inspiring and empowering deaf and hard of hearing youth (ages 18-30) to explore a variety of career and employment options.”

Letter to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

March 3, 2019 - 5:06pm

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sends this letter to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in response to the open call for comments on the proposed position statement prepared by the ASHA Ad Hoc Committee to Develop a Position Statement that American Sign Language is a Distinct Natural Language. (PDF available).

March 3, 2019

Shari B. Robertson, CCC-SLP

President, Board of Directors

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

National Office

2200 Research Boulevard 

Rockville, MD 20850-3289 

Dear Dr. Robertson:

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sends this letter to you and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) in response to your open call for comments on the proposed position statement prepared by your Ad Hoc Committee to Develop a Position Statement that American Sign Language is a Distinct Natural Language. While we agree with ASHA that deaf and hard of hearing children who need ASL services should receive such services with adequate funding including through the English Learner (EL) program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the framing of this invitation for comments has triggered concern from members of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

First, we would like to address the primary aim of the position statement: to promote consistent federal recognition of ASL as a distinct natural language. We appreciate ASHA’s efforts to correct discrepancies among federal agencies and provide an accurate history on ASL. For additional framing and references, please see the NAD’s position statement on ASL.[1]

However, the way ASHA worded its invitation for comments on this issue caused significant concern in the deaf and hard of hearing community that the long-established premise of ASL being a legitimate language was now in question. As a result, we had to reframe the issue to generate the necessary support for this initiative. Such reframing was particularly necessary given ASHA’s recent statements opposing LEAD-K, which is inconsistent with this effort to promote ASL on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing children. 

For several years now, the NAD has been involved in efforts to get ASL listed as a language eligible for EL funding. We worked with the Linguistics Society of America and the American Educational Research Association, along with others, to address this issue by meeting with key people at both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice (with their Educational Equity office). 

As educators and service providers become more aware of the benefits of EL for students using ASL, it is critical that we set appropriate expectations for how services will be implemented should we succeed in securing EL funding.

This brings us to another key concern we have, with this sentence from the proposed position statement, “Audiologists and speech-language pathologists who are proficient in ASL provide direct assessment and intervention for ASL users to ensure a strong language foundation for future learning.” The NAD respectfully asserts that any such proficiency must be examined and measured to reflect mastery to the extent that the professional is able to properly and fully complete assessment of a student’s language. 

As a result, anyone who conducts ASL assessments must be fluent in ASL, as measured by a high score on the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI), the most reliable mechanism that exists to measure ASL proficiency at the present time. They also should be trained on the specific ASL assessments, including using those that are normed and designed specifically for deaf and hard of hearing students. 

The NAD additionally takes the position that any person who is not fluent in ASL should never perform ASL assessments, including any attempt to do so through the use of interpreters. Sign language interpreters do not receive any type of training or education to perform language assessments, and should not be used by non-fluent individuals to assess any student’s ASL skills.

In fact, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has provisions that bar such an inappropriate use of sign language interpreters. The IDEA lists special factors with respect to direct communication between the deaf or hard of hearing student and the teacher/professional, in this case the assessor.  [34 CFR §300.324(a)(2)(iv)]. 

The NAD strongly recommends that ASHA members, when doing ASL assessments, collaborate with professionals who are themselves deaf or hard of hearing and at a minimum meet the qualifications listed above. Professional organizations and events focused on ASL professionals have been rapidly growing in recent years in order to address this need, and the existence of those organizations and events are further evidence that ASL deserves to be eligible for EL funding. 

Such organizations and events include the American Sign Language Teachers Association, ASL Roundtable, National ASL Education of Heritage Language Learners, and the National ASL & English Bilingual Consortium for Early Childhood Education (NASLECE).  

The NAD and the aforementioned organizations bring significant expertise in this area. We urge ASHA to engage in dialogue with the NAD to ensure that all deaf and hard of hearing children receive the appropriate assessments and language-based services that they deserve and need to achieve their full potential.


Melissa Draganac-Hawk, President                

Howard A. Rosenblum, Chief Executive Officer                                


In Memoriam: Thomas J. Dillon III

February 28, 2019 - 1:21pm

The National Association of the Deaf mourns the passing of Thomas Jefferson Dillon III on February 13, 2019, at the age of 64 years. Known to everyone as Tom, he was well known in the New Mexico deaf and hard of hearing community. Tom was the son of Dr. Thomas Dillon who was the first deaf principal of the New Mexico School for the Deaf, and Tom served on the Board of Directors for this school as well.  Tom was a Certified Public Accountant by profession, having earned his accounting degree from the College of Santa Fe and obtained his CPA license in 1992.  He worked for the New Mexico Department of Revenue and Taxation for more than 25 years.  Recently, he formed his own accounting and income tax practice called Taxes R Us. Also, in 2003, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson appointed Tom to the position of Executive Director of the New Mexico Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and he served in this role for more than four years. 

Tom always found time to serve different local organizations that serve the deaf and hard of hearing community.  His involvement included serving as President of the New Mexico Association of the Deaf (NMAD), serving on the board of the New Mexico School for the Deaf, and assisting with the New Mexico Chapter of Self Help for the Hard of Hearing (SHHH, now known as Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

Tom Dillon III

The NAD deeply appreciates Tom Dillon’s service as Treasurer for our Board of Directors from 2002 to 2008. Former NAD President (2006-2012), Dr. Bobbie Beth Scoggins fondly remembers Tom, and said of him: “Tom had an uncanny way of drawing you into conversations through his twinkling eyes and a broad smile. He made sure we all were comfortable before or after board meetings. His quiet and unassuming disposition as a leader on national and state levels benefited us greatly, including by consistently giving the NAD his wisdom and knowledge as a board member and as a treasurer for six years.  We shall miss him.” 

Mark Apodaca, who preceded Tom as NAD Treasurer (1996-2002) and worked with him on many boards in New Mexico, says of his fellow New Mexico advocate: “Tom will always be remembered for wanting to do what is best for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and to improve lives of many Deaf and Hard of Hearing New Mexicans.”

Ask Howard Anything / February 2019

February 28, 2019 - 5:36am
Howard A. Rosenblum is sitting at his desk.

Suppose you, as a deaf person, go to a hospital with a hearing family member that needs treatment or has an appointment and you are not the one getting treated or looked at for medical care — does the law allow you to have an interpreter in that situation? #AskHoward

Explore our list of advocacy letters.

Seeking a Litigation Lawyer!

February 21, 2019 - 5:49am

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), as the nation’s premier organization safeguarding the civil, human, and linguistic of deaf and hard of hearing Americans, invites applications for a Staff Attorney position within the NAD Law and Advocacy Center. This position will involve interviewing individuals, screening cases, and filing lawsuits and complaints on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States.

The key mission of the NAD Law and Advocacy Center is to represent the NAD across a broad range of civil rights and discrimination issues including education, early intervention, employment, healthcare, rehabilitation, technology, telecommunications as well as access to public entities and accommodations.

Key Responsibilities

The responsibilities of this Staff Attorney position include, but are not limited to:

  • Contact and communicate with consumers seeking legal or advocacy assistance as part of the client intake process;
  • Provide appropriate information and referrals to consumers who are not accepted as clients for further legal representation or advocacy purposes;
  • Conduct outreach in the deaf and hard of hearing community about legal issues;
  • Conduct research and analysis of specific legal and policy questions;
  • Prepare memoranda, opinions, and position statements as necessary;
  • Stay up to date with the latest trends affecting the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people;
  • Work with the NAD Law and Advocacy team on intakes, advocacy work, and litigation cases to ensure timely completion of all required tasks;
  • Represent clients zealously in all approved cases that the NAD undertakes in furtherance of its mission;
  • Engage competently in all aspects of litigation and administrative advocacy in the course of representation;
  • Continuously advance skills through CLE-authorized courses and trainings;
  • Coordinate and collaborate with other organizations and individuals to advance the NAD interests in support of its mission, vision, values, and strategic goals;
  • Collaborate with partnering law firms on litigation cases;
  • Represent the NAD at conferences, on advisory committees and panels, and through workshops and presentations;
  • Identify and pursue opportunities for growth through grants and other funding; and
  • Perform other duties and responsibilities as assigned by the CEO.

Experience and Qualifications

Applicants must possess the following:

  • Demonstrated commitment to and knowledge of issues related to the advancement of the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing individuals;
  • Litigation experience including but not limited to handling client intake, conducting discovery, writing and filing complaints/motions/briefs, and handling administrative hearings and/or trial court proceedings;
  • Excellent writing and research skills, strong analytic capabilities, and demonstrate ability to analyze statutes and case law;
  • Strong working knowledge of constitutional issues, including litigation, legislation, and other issues involving civil liberties and civil rights;
  • Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree required;
  • Bar licensure in Maryland required within one year of accepting position;
  • Work well with the NAD Law and Advocacy team at NAD headquarters as well as independently;
  • Significant litigation experience preferred;
  • Fluency in American Sign Language (ASL) required;
  • Excellent interpersonal and written communication skills; and
  • Proactive in identifying areas of need and diligent in completing tasks pursuant to deadlines.

The NAD, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, offers a competitive salary, comprehensive benefits package and flexible work environment. Salary is commensurate with experience.


Applicant cover letter, resume, three references, and three writing samples must be emailed to

The NAD is an EEO/AA employer. For more information about the NAD, visit

Aarron Loggins at Super Bowl LIII

February 6, 2019 - 1:06pm

Aarron Loggins takes us behind the scenes in Atlanta during Super Bowl LIII!

President Updates / January 2019

February 1, 2019 - 1:05pm

Melissa shares an update about the NAD quarterly Board meeting that happened recently in North Carolina and South Carolina (enjoy the photos!) and the progress of her “President-President” meetings so far.

Region I January 2019 Report
Region II January 2019 Report
Region III January 2019 Report
Region IV January 2019 Report

2018-2020 Priority Report on Sign Language Interpreting Profession

January 31, 2019 - 12:05pm
[NAD President Melissa Draganac-Hawk is standing in front of a dark teal wall. The NAD logo appears on bottom right corner as a watermark.]

As requested by the delegation from the 2018 Council of Representatives on the motion regarding American Association of Sign Language Interpreters (AASLI) and issues on Interpreting Credentialing, the NAD Board shares its 6-month report. We will continue to keep you informed on updates regarding Interpreting credentialing with the timeline as presented in the current Priority on Interpreting. If there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your Region Board Representatives or President Melissa Draganac-Hawk. 

Ask Howard Anything / January 2019

January 30, 2019 - 11:54am

Can the NAD lobby? #AskHoward

Aarron Loggins to Perform at Super Bowl LIII

January 17, 2019 - 11:23am

Seven-time Grammy Award-winner and “Empress of Soul” GLADYS KNIGHT will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LIII pregame festivities at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday, February 3, the NFL and CBS announced today. The performance will be televised live on CBS prior to kickoff.

“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” said GLADYS KNIGHT. “The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform Inspire Change, and I am honored to be a part of its inaugural year.”

Gladys Knight has enjoyed #1 hits in Pop, Gospel, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. Knight has recorded two number-one Billboard Hot 100 singles (“Midnight Train to Georgia” and “That’s What Friends Are For”), eleven number-one R&B singles, and six number-one R&B albums. She has won seven Grammy Awards and is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with The Pips. Fall of 2015 marked the release of Knight’s first mainstream dance record, “Just A Little” in nearly twenty years. The song serves as lead single from her twelfth studio album that she is currently on. The year of 2011 was a year of much recognition as Knight was both honoring and being honored, first at a Michael Jackson tribute concert, and then at the 2011 Soul Train Awards.

Gladys Knight joins the ranks of many great performers who have sung the Super Bowl National Anthem including: Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Mariah Carey, Cher, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., Neil Diamond, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Faith Hill, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Idina Menzel, Aaron Neville, P!NK, Jordin Sparks, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Vanessa Williams, and many more. (A complete list of National Anthem performers from past Super Bowls is listed below.) 

In addition, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), performer and deaf activist AARRON LOGGINS will sign in American Sign Language both the National Anthem and “America The Beautiful”.

The pregame and halftime shows are an NFL NETWORK PRODUCTION and will be executive produced by RICKY KIRSHNER.


Super BowlPerformerSuper Bowl     PerformerSuper Bowl IUniversities of Arizona & Michigan BandsSuper Bowl XXVIIGarth Brooks (Signed by Marlee Matlin)Super Bowl IIGrambling University BandSuper Bowl XXVIIINatalie Cole with Atlanta University Center Chorus (Signed by Courtney Keel Foley)Super Bowl IIIAnita Bryant (Pledge of Allegiance by Apollo Astronauts)Super Bowl XXIXKathie Lee Gifford (Signed by Heather Whitestone)Super Bowl IVAl Hirt (Pledge of Allegiance by Astronauts)Super Bowl XXXVanessa Williams (Signed by Mary Kim Titla)Super Bowl VTommy Loy (trumpeter)Super Bowl XXXILuther Vandross (Signed by Erika Schwarz)Super Bowl VIU.S. Air Force Academy ChoraleSuper Bowl XXXIIJewel (Signed by Phyllis Frelich)Super Bowl VIIAndy Williams & Little Angels of Holy Angels Church (Chicago) Pledge of Allegiance by Apollo 17 crewSuper Bowl XXXIIICher (Signed by Speaking Hands)Super Bowl VIIICharlie PrideSuper Bowl XXXIVFaith Hill (Signed by Briarlake Elementary School Signing Choir)Super Bowl IXGrambling University Band with Mardi Gras ChorusSuper Bowl XXXVBackstreet Boys (Signed by Tom Cooney); “America The Beautiful” performed by Ray CharlesSuper Bowl XTom SullivanSuper Bowl XXXVIMariah Carey (Signed by Joe Narcisse); “America The Beautiful” performed by Mary J. Blige & Marc AnthonySuper Bowl XIVicki Carr (America the Beautiful)Super Bowl XXXVIIDixie Chicks (Signed by Janet Maxwell);
“God Bless America” performed by Celine DionSuper Bowl XIIPhyllis Kelly of NE Louisiana State UniversitySuper Bowl XXXVIIIBeyoncé Knowles (Signed by Suzanna Christy)Super Bowl XIIIColgate University ThirteenSuper Bowl XXXIXMore than 100 representatives from the four branches of the military (Signed by Wesley Tallent)Super Bowl XIVCheryl LaddSuper Bowl XLAaron Neville and Dr. John with Aretha Franklin & Detroit based 150-member choir (Signed by Angela LaGuardia of Michigan School for Deaf).Super Bowl XVHelen O’ConnellSuper Bowl XLIBilly Joel (Signed by Marlee Matlin and Jason Hay-Southwell)Super Bowl XVIDiana RossSuper Bowl XLIIJordin Sparks (Signed by A Dreamer)Super Bowl XVIILeslie EasterbrookSuper Bowl XLIIIJennifer Hudson (Signed by Kristen Santos)Super Bowl XVIIIBarry ManilowSuper Bowl XLIVCarrie Underwood (Signed by Kinesha Battles)Super Bowl XIXChildren’s Choir of San FranciscoSuper Bowl XLVChristina Aguilera (Signed by Candice Villesca)Super Bowl XXWynton MarsalisSuper Bowl XLVIKelly Clarkson (Signed by Rachel Mazique)Super Bowl XXINeil DiamondSuper Bowl XLVIIAlicia Keys (Signed by John Maucere)Super Bowl XXIIHerb AlpertSuper Bowl XLVIIIRenée Fleming (Signed by Amber Zion)Super Bowl XXIIIBilly JoelSuper Bowl XLIXIdina Menzel (Signed by Treshelle Edmond)Super Bowl XXIVAaron NevilleSuper Bowl 50Lady Gaga (Signed by Marlee Matlin)Super Bowl XXVWhitney HoustonSuper Bowl LILuke Bryan (Signed by Kriston Pumphrey)Super Bowl XXVIHarry Connick, Jr. (Signed by Lori Hilary)Super Bowl LIIP!NK (Signed by Alexandria Wailes)Super Bowl LIIIGladys Knight  

#          #          #


Gladys Knight’s career started when at 7 years old she came to prominence on Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour TV show in 1952.  Still performing over six decades in an ever-changing industry, she provides inspiration to those in and out of the arts both on and off the stage.  Few have matched her unassailable artistry.  The seven-time Grammy winner has had #1 hits in Pop, Gospel, R & B and Adult Contemporary while excelling in film, television and live performances.  She has won the NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Gospel Album” and recorded over 38 albums over her career including four solo albums over the past decade.  In addition to her musical endeavors and performing accomplishments, Gladys was honored in 2015 when a portion of Atlanta’s State Route 9 from Peachtree Street to 14thStreet was named Gladys Knight Highway.  In 2017, she and her husband, William McDowell, founded the Reynolds High School Community Foundation to benefit the renovation of the former high school into a community center for the Canton, NC community.


Aarron Loggins is an accomplished dancer, performer, advocate, and actor. He is currently performing on series including The C-Word and Shock Nation, and can be seen in a short film, Warriors of the Red Ribbon. He was the Mister Deaf International of 2014 and was profiled on Fashion News Live. He has danced with performance groups as the Wild Zappers and Da Jump Back, and has performed with the National Theater of the Deaf. In addition, he has acted in several theater productions including Who’s Tommy, and Sense-Able. His talent includes creating visually compelling American Sign Language (ASL) performances of music.


NFL: Elena Bakar,

CBS: Jen Sabatalle,

Gladys Knight: Laura Herlovich,

For more from NFL Communications, visit and follow @NFL345.

2017-2018 Annual Report

January 9, 2019 - 11:50am

If you like numbers, this is for YOU! The NAD’s annual report for 2017-2018 is out and we have all the details and numbers summarized in an infographic poster. Find out what our social media stats were (in fact, one of our Ask Howard Anything video had more than 66K views!) or learn how many policy filings we made. Explore!

Deaf Referee Sues Georgia High School Association

January 8, 2019 - 6:21am

Macon, Georgia – Donald Jacobs, a deaf basketball referee, has filed suit for discrimination based on disability against the Georgia High School Association (GHSA), an organization which regulates the provision of referees for interscholastic events in Georgia. GHSA has repeatedly refused requests by Jacobs and the National Association of the Deaf to provide sign language interpreters for its referee training camps. GHSA’s refusal to provide meaningful access for Jacobs violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

For the past four years, Jacobs has worked as a high school referee in Georgia and uses sign language interpreters. Without interpreters for the referee training camps, Jacobs is unable to benefit from the program which is required for referees to polish their skills and advance in the field to higher paying positions.

Jacobs loves the spirit of high school athletics and said, “I learn so much from working with high school athletes and I like to think they learn something from me too.” Jacobs added, “I just want the same opportunities as other referees. My earning potential shouldn’t be limited because I am deaf.”

“No person should be excluded from opportunities and advancements simply because that person is deaf, much less by any entity that stands for ‘promotion of education in Georgia from a mental, physical, and moral viewpoint’ such as GSHA,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf. “We expect GSHA to demonstrate good sportsmanship and legal compliance by ensuring that its training programs are accessible to all.”

Jacobs is represented by the National Association of the Deaf, Stein & Vargas, LLP, and the Georgia Advocacy Office.


The National Association of the Deaf is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by, and for, deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States.

Georgia Advocacy Office is the Protection & Advocacy System for the State of Georgia.

Stein & Vargas, LLP is a civil rights firm based in Washington, D.C. and committed to the principle that all people have full and equal access to all parts of society.


  • The National Association of the Deaf
    Lizzie Sorkin
  • Stein & Vargas, LLP
    Mary Vargas