Welcome to our new PSAD Webpage

Transcript: Hi, my name is Liz Hill, President of PSAD. Thanks for visiting our website. Please feel free to browse our site and see all that we are involved in! Some of our programs include Youth Day and Young Adult Program. We have many committees that focus on issues like mental health, education, early intervention, video remote interpreting (VRI), Act 57 – interpreter registration, and many more! We serve and welcome all deaf and hard of people regardless of communication method, religious belief, disability, or race. We are a very diverse organization. Please consider joining as a lifetime member. Our membership rate is a one-time fee of $40.00. Also, we encourage you to sign up for our free e-zine to keep abreast of current events, issues, and different projects and collaborations that PSAD is working on. Simply put in your name and email address to sign up for the e-zine. If you have any questions, please feel free to welcome us. Again, WELCOME!

Liz’s September Vlog 2017


Hi, my name is Liz Hill, President of PSAD. For this month’s vlog, I want to take the opportunity to share with you what has been happening since my last vlog. We just had a very successful state conference last August 10-13, 2017. Conference attendance totaled 101 people! Some of you may remember when we used to have conferences every year. Now, we have conferences every two years and this was our first biennial conference. We celebrated our 135th anniversary since our founding and our 131st conference. Our next conference will be in Williamsport, PA in 2019. More information will be shared periodically on our upcoming conference.

At our recent conference in August, the members voted to give the board discretion to assess what should be the new lifetime membership rate. Remember, PSAD is unique in that we only have a one-time fee and then you are a member for life! In the past, the lifetime membership rate was $125.00. The board then decided to do a trial phase on a more “accessible” membership rate of $25.00. Since this trial is now over, members gave the board permission ot reassess the membership rate. So, the board, in consultation with our membership committee, decided that the new membership rate, from here on out, is $40.00. So if you are not a member, please sign up and pay a one-time fee of $40.00 and be a member of PSAD for life!

I am very proud to announce that this past Saturday, September 23, 2017, PSAD’s Young Adult Program (YAP) hosted a one-day conference for young deaf and hard of hearing adults. Thank you to Evy A. Williams and Domonic Gordine for all their hard work to make this happen. I also want to thank our presenters: Mr. Neil McDevitt, Mr. Todd Miller, Mr. Raymond Hawkins, Mr. Jordan Sanjaya, and Ms. Emily Claveau. I also want to thank the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) for allowing us to use their facilities. PSD’s support and collaboration is very much appreciated!

For some who may not know, the National Association of the Deaf recently sued and settled with a movie theatre – SouthSide Works Cinema – in Pittsburgh. As part of the agreement, the movie theatre agreed to provide open captions for any movie. Open captions means we can view the captions directly on the movie screen without hassling with any equipment – no heavy glasses and no fussing with equipment in our cup holders. All you have to do is email sswmain@clevelandcinemas.com before 10 am that day or you can email anytime the day before. This is only for a six month trial period. So if you are in the Pittsburgh area, please see an open captioned movie! Support this initiative as it is the first and only in the nation!

PSAD will host our 9th Annual Youth Day in November in Pittsburgh, PA. PSAD is actually the founder of Youth Day and our model has been replicated across the nation. Thanks to Sharon Antal, who founded this, and the Youth Day committee for their hard work. We have students from both mainstream programs and deaf schools. It is a day that allows them to interact with each other and learn more about their deaf identity.

And finally, I want to talk a bit about this year’s hurricane season. We have seen the news about hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Jose. First, I want to point out that there is an organization called Portlight. This organization focuses on “Inclusive Disaster Strategies” which means serving people with disabilities, including deaf and hard of hearing people, during emergency/disaster preparations. They have been instrumental in Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Please consider donating to this organization at www.portlight.org.

Staying on the theme of hurricanes and emergency management, many of you might have seen the news about the “fake interpreter” in Manatee County, Florida. During Hurricane Irma, Manatee County was getting ready to provide a press briefing on emergency preparations. One of their staff happened to have a deaf brother and knows some sign. Manatee County officials pressured this person to be their “interpreter” for the press briefing instead of getting a certified interpreter. The person signed “pizza”, “bear”, “monster”, and fingerspelled odd things like “p-a-p-p-s.” He wore a bright yellow shirt making it hard for people to see his signs.

The lack of a certified interpreter in this situation put people’s lives at stake. The situation got national media attention and it is my hope that this serves as an opportunity for education – for us to stress why it is so important to have a certified interpreter. We are very fortunate that our PA Governor has used certified interpreters for emergency press briefings. The Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities has been very good with this as well. There still remains room for improvement. PSAD hopes to collaborate with the appropriate agencies on emergency management to ensure full inclusion of deaf and hard of hearing people in emergency management.

Thanks for watching. I know it was a long vlog with so much happening. Please follow us on facebook and feel free to email me at psadlizhill@gmail.com. Thanks!!

Elizabeth Hill

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PSAD Officers and Board of Managers 2017-2019

 PSAD is pleased to announce its new Board of Managers for 2017-2019! Congratulations!

From right to left: NAD President: Melissa Draganac-Hawk, President: Elizabeth “Liz” Hill, 1st Vice President: Gerald Penna, 2nd Vice President: Sharon Antal, Recording/Correspondence Secretary: Elissa Clark,  Treasurer: Bob Probst, Member-at-Large: Grace Shirk-Emmons,  Board member: Harry Marchese III, Board member: Jamie Kitchen, Board member: Jeffrey Yockey, Board member: Mark Marcellino, and Board member: Evy A. Williams
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Vlog for upcoming Conference 2017





Hi, my name is Liz Hill and I am a PSAD board member. This month’s vlog is about our upcoming PSAD conference on August 10-13 in the Poconos! We are excited that many have already registered for the conference. I encourage you to consider coming also! Come and see old friends. There are many exciting things to look forward to at the conference. Come see who is running for the PSAD board this year, old and new faces alike. Propose and vote on resolutions that will determine our priorities for the next two years — what PSAD should focus on for the next two years. Discuss the bylaws amendments that members should have received in the mail for their review. There are also many good workshops! Learn about parliamentary procedure, techniques for being a secretary for a Chapter, and find out more about vp technology. At the same time, take an opportunity to see the beautiful area of the Poconos.

Here is the full conference schedule: http://www.psadweb.org/conference-schedule/

Information about game night available for all: http://www.psadweb.org/psad-conference-game-night-dingo-or-poker/

So yes, lots of work will happen at the conference but there will be fun also! I hope to see you all there on August 10!

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New ODHH Applicant Vlog



Hello everyone,

I am Grace Shirk-Emmons PSAD President. I want to let you know on what’s happening with Office of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Thanks to Advisory Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACDHH, this council advises ODHH) for sharing the draft that Labor of Industry and Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) had put together for the next director of ODHH. ACDHH wanted Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf (PSAD)’s opinion of the draft.

The first draft really named OVR too often to the point that it felt like OVR is taking over ODHH. It also didn’t really say anything about the person knowing deaf culture or consumer of ODHH. Next one was it said familiar about ASL. This could mean a person knowing about ASL but do not use it or is fluent in ASL.

Looking over the draft, it was not enough. It felt like with OVR’s job, the range of their work is limited.  OVR’s mission is limited to providing job services and training for people with disabilities.ODHH’s mission is wide ranging from advocacy, registry for interpreters, mental health, various difficulties and needs.  ODHH really serves deaf and hard of hearing from birth to grave. It felt like with OVR’s limitations, ODHH is being squeezed into OVR’s limitations. It felt like OVR is controlling ODHH.

We also sent our report letting ACDHH know that putting in deaf culture is important. Also that the part “familiar” with ASL is not acceptable.  The person should be fluent in ASL according to the measurement of ASLPI 4.0 or SLPI Advanced.  These two tests is really the same level of fluency. We even shared where the person could take test online. For a person to pass the test, it would qualify the person for the job. We want the person to really be fluent in ASL. Also too much references to OVR.

Sent out our opinions, then in a few days I got second draft, not from ACDHH, from someone else and the second draft was better. Less OVR wording in there. The wording “familiar” was revised to fluent in ASL.  No measurement in there, would it mean a person who feels he or she is qualified because he or she knows ABC?  There is no measurement required in there. Knowledge in deaf culture has been added but not strong enough. It is definitely an improvement over Draft one.

I also need to let you know that Hard of Hearing group feels hard of hearing person should have the director’s position.

Remember PSAD can’t do this alone.  I feel that all deaf organizations, clubs and individuals should start writing letters to OVR David DeNotaris.  He is Executive Director. Call him.  He is public person and we can write and call him and tell him to hire a deaf director with ASL skills.

David DeNotaris’ email address is  ddenotaris@state.pa.us

VRS: 717-787-3201

TTY: 866-830-7327

Thank you for watching me.

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Liz’s Topic/Question of the Month for March 2017


Hi! My name is Liz Hill and I am a PSAD board member. Last month, I promised that I would do monthly vlogs for topic of the month or question of the month. I took this opportunity for today because March 8th is International Women’s Day. Many women wore red today in support of International Women’s Day. Many men also wore red to show appreciation for their wives, mothers, grandmothers, etc.

Interestingly, our PSAD board has nine (9) members. It could be more but that is what we currently have. Of our nine (9) members, five (5) are women including our President, Grace Shirk-Emmons, and our second Vice-President, Sharon Antal. So women are a big part of PSAD and give so much of their time and service.

Some of you have asked about what PSAD is. PSAD is one of the oldest state associations in the nation. We are not *the* oldest, but one of the oldest! We are a statewide civil rights organization that advocates for the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people from birth to end of life. An example of advocacy from birth is when babies are born and identified as deaf, PSAD supports early exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) to ensure proper language development. This is so that our children can be ready for school!

Another example of our advocacy efforts. Last Wednesday, Dr. Harvey Corson, our executive director, and I went to Washington, DC to support CEASD’s Capitol Hill Advocacy Day. CEASD is Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf. CEASD hosted this day to advocate for the passage of the Alice Cogswell and Anne Sullivan Macy Act to strengthen the IDEA for deaf, deaf-blind, and blind children. I am proud to tell you that PSAD, I believe, was the only state association present in support of this effort! Pennsylvania had an amazingly large group, in addition to PSAD, with PSD, WPSD, WPSB – school for blind children in Pittsburgh, and Overbrook – school for blind children in Philadelphia area. Both WPSB and Overbrook have deaf-blind children. Our group was such an amazingly strong group! We had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Senator Casey’s staff, U.S. Senator Toomey’s staff, as well as several U.S. Representatives. If you are interested in helping with the passage of this bill, let your Senator and Representative know that you support H.R. 1120.

If you have any other questions or topics for next month’s vlog, please feel free to email me at psadlizhill@gmail.com. Thank you so much!

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Question/Topic of the Month

Hi My name is Liz Hill and I am a PSAD Board member. Recently, people have expressed interest in knowing more about PSAD. Some have commented that they wish there was an easier way to get more information. I thought that was great feedback and am happy that people are interested in us! So, I will set up a monthly vlog called “Question/Topic of the Month.” Maybe you have questions about how many Chapters we have, or how many Board members we have, or what is PSAD focusing on in the education committee. I can then use that as the topic of the month vlog. We are a very hardworking organization and want to make sure folks know what we are doing. Please feel free to email me with your questions or topics at psadlizhill@gmail.com.

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