by Leonard Hall
The Diversity Strategic Team (DST) presented a report to the NAD board and delegates that brought up issues on diversity that surprised many white Deaf Americans.
Racism is still an lingering concern among deaf people of different races. The recent racial incident involving an African-American deaf student at a deaf school revealed an underlying problem with racism that we need to continue to educate deaf people about diversity.
What is being discussed at the NAD conference is similar to what is happening on the national level, particularly in American politics where an African-American Democrat is running for United States President.
Dr. Glenn Anderson, Deaf African-American and Professor at University of Arkansas, made several key comments in his presentation to the NAD delegates:
1. There are two overall goals:
* To promote and expand multicultural diversity within NAD and the deaf community.
* To support and work with NAD to achieve it goal of being “diverse friendly” and welcoming to all Deaf people.
2. There are several strategies to achieving NAD goals of diversity:
* Create specialized curriculum for workshops, training, and presentations on diversity.
* Support NAD visibility at national conferences of deaf people of color and other diverse backgrounds.
* In-service training on diversity for NAD board members.
* Outreach to recruit and involve more deaf people from diverse groups to provide opportunities for leadership roles and involvement in NAD programs.
3. DST worked with NAD Board to draft the Diversity Statement, which was approved by NAD Board in January 2008. NAD Diversity Statement includes three key concepts:
* Commitment to building and maintaining an inclusive environment where differences of opinion, beliefs and values are shared.
* Commitment to expanding membership, participation, and leadership that reflect diversity of the American deaf community.
* A pledge to enhance NAD policies and practices to adhere to the highest standards of diversity and inclusiveness.
4. DST also submitted a letter listing several concerns and suggestions to the NAD Board:
* Racism - issue of how to address racism. There are concerns about whether or not it is considered a high priority for NAD, since there is no workshop on racism at the conference.
* DST recommendation of Zero tolerance for racism was not included in the NAD Diversity Statement.
* Training and workshops on diversity. NAD should use the Team members expertise and experience in providing training, workshops, and presentations on diversity.
Deaf Americans should appreciate the efforts of the NAD board and delegates to explore and improve diversity at NAD and the deaf community.
(Leonard Hall writes a weekly column in the Olathe New for the deaf community and can be reached at Legalnetwk@aol.com.)