Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Dr Robert Davila

Dr Robert Davila was born in southern California to Mexican parents who worked in fields and orchards. At the age of 8, he contracted spinal meningitis and became deaf. When his mother learned about a school for the deaf in northern California, she sent Roberto (his childhood name) alone on a journey to the California School for the Deaf in Berkeley (which later moved to California School for the Deaf, Fremont).

Dr Robert Davila graduated from Gallaudet University, with a Bachelor’s in Education. Dr Robert Davila then went to Hunter College with a Master’s in Special Education. To complete his education, he attended and graduated from Syracuse University with a Ph.D. in Educational Technology. Dr Robert Davila also has received honorary degrees from Gallaudet, RIT, Stonehill College, and Hunter College.

Dr Robert Davila served as Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services of the United States from 1989 to 1993 during the administration of George H.W. Bush. Educationally, Dr Robert Davila has experience teaching high school math, being an assistant principal, serving as a K-12 superintendent. Dr Robert Davila worked as professor, a college administrator and Vice President of Gallaudet University in the 1970s and ’80s. Dr Robert Davila was headmaster of the New York School for the Deaf at White Plains 1993 to 1996 as well as CEO of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf 1996 from 2006. On 10 December, 2006 Robert Davila was named Interim President of Gallaudet, enacted at the start of 2007.

Dr Robert Davila is the 9th president of Gallaudet University, the world’s only university in which all programs and services are specifically designed to accommodate deaf and hard of hearing students. Dr Robert Davila’s appointment came after the wake of the Unity for Gallaudet Movement protests of 2006, when many students, staff, and alumni objected to the installation of president-designate Jane Fernandes. Although he is officially the university’s 9th president, the Board of Trustees has limited his term to 18-24 months.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Phyllis Frelich

Phyllis Frelich was born on 29 February, 1944 in Devils Lake, a small town in North Dakota. Phyllis is an American actress and is one of the most noted deaf actresses in the United States working in the entertainment industry.

Phyllis was born to deaf parents and is the oldest of 9 children (all of whom are also deaf). Phyllis attended North Dakota School for the Deaf, graduating in 1962, and then went on to study at Gallaudet College (now known as Gallaudet University), a school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Phyllis originated the leading female role in the Broadway production of Children of a Lesser God, for which she won the 1980 Best Actress Tony Award.

Marlee Matlin played Phyllis’s role in the film version, and won the Best Actress Academy Award.

Phyllis has been married to Robert Steinberg for many years, and they have 2 children.

Phyllis performed the ASL interpretation of Jewel’s rendition of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXII.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Irving King Jordan

Irving King Jordan was born on 16 June, 1943 made history in 1988 when he became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, the world’s only university with all programs and services designed specifically for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. That year Gallaudet students, with support from many alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University, protested the Board of Trustees’ appointment of a hearing person to the presidency.

Called Deaf President Now (DPN), the week-long protest was a watershed event in the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing people all over the world. At its conclusion, the Board reversed its decision and named Irving King Jordan, 1 of 3 finalists for the position, the 8th president of Gallaudet and the 1st deaf president since the institution was established in 1864.

Irving King Jordan is a native of Glen Riddle, a small town near Philadelphia in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school, Penncrest High School, in 1962, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served 4 years. Irving King Jordan became deaf at the age of 21 when, while driving a motorcycle, he obtained a skull fracture due to not wearing a helmet after having been flung into the windshield of a car.

As professor, department chair, dean, and president, Irving King Jordan has made numerous scholarly contributions to his field. In addition, he has been a research fellow at Donaldson’s School for the Deaf in Edinburgh, Scotland, an exchange scholar at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and a visiting scholar and lecturer at schools in the French cities of Paris, Toulouse, and Marseille.

Irving King Jordan and his wife, Linda, live in West River, Maryland. They have 2 grown children. Irving King Jordan loves running daily.

Irving King Jordan holds 11 honorary degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards, among them: the Presidential Citizen’s Medal, the Washingtonian of the Year Award, the James L. Fisher Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), the Larry Stewart Award from the American Psychological Association, and the Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Association for Community Leadership. In 1990, President Bush appointed Irving King Jordan Vice Chair of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with disabilities.

On campus, he was widely applauded for his successful efforts to increase funding, including funds for the expansion and construction of 2 new large-scale centers for education research and support.

On Thursday, 1 September, 2005, Irving King Jordan announced his intentions to retire from the Presidency effective 31 December, 2006.

Irving King Jordan became the subject of controversy himself when he defended the controversial decision made on 1 May, 2006 by the Board of Trustees to appoint Dr. Jane Fernandes as president designate. The announcement of her selection set off a campus-wide protest.

Critics claim that Ms. Fernandes was not highly regarded by both the faculty and students, and many deeply suspect Dr. Jordan orchestrated her ascension for personal reasons. Dr. Jordan, taking a line from page 10 of the 1995 book, “Deaf President Now” (by Christiansen and Barnartt), publicly accused some critics of rejecting Ms. Fernandes because she was allegedly not “deaf enough”. They replied that such a charge is off-base, because Irving King Jordan himself was accepted as president, even though he did not become deaf until he was 21. The protesters insisted that they protested for more profound reasons, such as Ms. Fernandes’ character, leadership, and policies.

The protesters also took issue with the fact that during escalating tensions between the administration and protesters in October 2006, Irving King Jordan proceeded to host ceremonies in which the Student Academic Center was renamed after him while a wing in the Washburn Arts Building was renamed after his wife. Many of the dissenters took the moves as a sign of Irving King Jordan’s arrogance and narcissistic attitude.

On 13 October, 2006, Irving King Jordan ordered mass arrests of Gallaudet University Students at the 6th street gate. Dubbed as Black Friday, a total of 135 student-protesters were arrested. The bail was originally set at $250 as requested by Irving King Jordan. The D.C. Metropolitan Police later decided to set it at $50. This set off even larger protest the following day estimated at 1,000 people.

Many in the deaf community interpreted Irving King Jordan’s actions in arresting the protesters as an act of political suicide on his part. The protesters prevailed soon thereafter, on 29 October 2006 when the Gallaudet Board of Trustees met and voted to rescind Jane Fernandes’s contract to be the 9th President of Gallaudet.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Andrew Foster

Andrew Jackson Foster was born on 26 December, 1925 in Ensley, Alabama, USA and died on 3 December, 1987 in Rwanda, Africa at the age of 61 killed in an airplane accident.

Andrew Foster was a missionary to the Deaf in Africa from 1956 until his death in 1987. Andrew Foster became the first Black Deaf person to earn a bachelor’s degree from Gallaudet College and the first to earn a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. Eventually receiving a Master’s Degree from Seattle Pacific Christian College, he founded Christian Mission for Deaf Africans in 1956, and set for Liberia, Africa.

Andrew Foster was the son of a coal miner, he and his younger brother became deaf through spinal meningitis in 1936. Educational opportunities for African Americans in that era prevented him from achieving more than a 6th grade education. At the age of 16, he moved to Detroit, Michigan to live with his aunt and attended Bethany Pembroke church where he later committed his life to the call of Christ. Andrew Foster completed high school at Michigan School for the Deaf.

In 1961 Andrew Foster was married to Berta, a German, and together they have 5 children. Gallaudet College awarded him an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters in 1977 for his accomplishment.

Deaf Education in Africa

There Andrew Foster encountered cultures so oppressive of deaf people that parents often hid their deaf children at home or abandoned them altogether. Hearing missionaries told him that deaf children didn’t even exist in Africa but, he found deaf children and established schools for them.

The challenges for deaf ministry in central and west Africa were two-fold: not only were there no churches for the deaf in the most populous regions of Africa, but there were no schools for the deaf. Consequently, the deaf were completely illiterate. The most a deaf person could hope for was to become the family servant and use rudimentary signs invented by the family. In remote villages, some deaf children were thought to be cursed by demons and abandoned to be eaten by wild animals.

Andrew Foster began his work in 1956 by convincing school officials to let him use their classrooms after hours to teach the deaf. In Ghana he found a public school willing to allow him to teach the deaf, and within months the school had a waiting list of over 300 families wanting to send their deaf children to his school. As the deaf began to become literate, Andrew Foster would supplement their education with trade skills, and, most importantly, teach Christianity lessons. Andrew Foster convinced existing churches and missions to expand their ministry to include the deaf.

After staying on as the administrator of the school for three years, Andrew Foster moved on to Nigeria to repeat the successes he had seen in Ghana. It was in Ibadan, Nigeria, that he would eventually set up his headquarters and create a teacher-training facility as he continued to expand his work to over thirty countries in the West and Central regions of Africa. Andrew Foster’s work included schools, Sunday schools, churches, youth camps and teacher-training facilities reaching tens of thousands of deaf-teaching many of them not only their own names, but additional to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

During 30 years of service Andrew Foster founded 31 schools and 2 centers, successively in Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Togo, Chad, Senegal, Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire (presently Democratic Republic of Congo), Burkina Faso, Burundi and Gabon. About the same number of Sunday Schools and churches were established in those countries, and also in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Congo and Guinea. For much of his life Andrew Foster spent 6 months of the year in Africa establishing schools and the other 6 months in the United State raising money to support these schools. In 1977, the name was changed to Christian Mission for the Deaf.

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Hearing Impairment Series-Disabled Legend Linda Bove

Linda Bove was born on 30 November, 1945 in Garfield, New Jersey, USA. Linda Bove attended Gallaudet University. Linda is a deaf American actress who played the part of Linda the Librarian on the children’s television programme Sesame Street from 1971 to 2003. Linda Bove has introduced thousands of children to sign language and issues surrounding the Deaf Community. Linda Bove’s role as Linda on Sesame Street is currently the longest recurring role in television history for a deaf person. Linda Bove has been married to Ed Waterstreet since 1970. Like Linda Bove, Ed Waterstreet is also deaf. Ed Waterstreet also performed with the National Theater of the Deaf.

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