S2 Episode 13 with The Advocates Network

February 12, 2023 01:40:07
S2 Episode 13 with The Advocates Network
Disability Empowerment Now
S2 Episode 13 with The Advocates Network

Feb 12 2023 | 01:40:07

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Show Notes

In this episode, Advocates Network Admins (Jamon Freeman, Hunta Williams, and Allison Jones) discuss adaptive sports and access. Access the transcript for this episode HERE. Jamon Freeman,  B.K.A. A “triple threat” black, Deaf & physically challenged. He’s a generous guy who’s multi-talented, an athlete and poet making a difference in both communities by bridging gaps […]

Disability Empowerment Now is produced by Pascal Albright

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Episode Transcript

Keith: Welcome to Disability Empowerment Now Season 2. I'm your host Keith Murfee-Deconcini. Today is a very special episode of Disability Empowerment Now because for the first time ever we are both a podcast and a videocast. I will be talking with Jamon Freeman, Allison Jones and Hunta Williams. Welcome all of you. Allison: Thanks for having us. Jamon: Yes, thank you. Hunta: Yes, thank you for having us. This is Hunta . Ready. Ready to roll. Excited to be here. Keith: Thank you all. So why don't we describe what we look like for the listeners? Hunta: This is Hunta. I'll go ahead and start. Hi everyone, my name is Hunta Williams. I'll go ahead and give a visual description of myself. I'm currently sitting in front of a black curtain and beside me to the left of me is my desk, and it is a moving desk and I also have my backpack to the left of me. I'm also wearing a button down black shirt. I also have locks with some red colors in my hair. And I'm also wearing blue lenses and I have a beard and paprika type hair. And I also have tattoos, sleeves on my arms. So thank you so much for having me and for inviting me. Jamon: Let's see, as he's already stated prior, I am Jamon Freeman. Let's see, to describe my background, it's a bit blurred out at the moment. Let's see as far as what I am wearing, I'm currently wearing a green T-shirt. I'm also wearing a top hat. I am an individual who uses a wheelchair. Excuse me, on my hat is a picture of an individual in a wheelchair playing lacrosse. For visual purposes I do wear glasses, let's see, I think, pretty much, oh, I do wanna go ahead and say thank you for allowing me to be here. Hunta: And this is Hunta, I forgot to also add that I identify as deaf, blind and disability plus as well. And I also identify as a black person. Jamon: Oh yeah, Hunta, you just reminded me. Thank you. For as far as how I identify, I too identify as a black man. Deafness is part of my identity, and I do use a wheelchair. Allison: All right and to introduce myself, my name is Alison Jones. I am a white woman. I identify as disabled. I'm hearing, I'm sighted. I am wearing glasses right now. But I am an everyday cane user and my background is blue. I'm wearing a black blazer. You can see my hair is salt and pepper, and that's about it. Keith: I am your host Keith-Murfee DeConcini. My camera is off, but the display picture has me in a white shirt with the podcast logo barley seen and I am standing outside in the picture. I am currently sitting in an office chair conducting an episode. I identify as sighted, and disabled. So, welcome everyone. So this is a first for me and I am very anxious to begin the discussion. I first got to know Allison Jones through social media, through her work with the advocates network, which is a prototype that was started late last fall 2022. She also works for Mosaic Interpreting Services. Allison: Yes, that's true Keith: So Allison, why don’t you tell me what got you involved with interpreting services and how you came to know Jamon and Hunta. Allsion: Well, I have to say Jamon and Hunta, I really look up to them. They're definitely my peers and it's interesting because I first met Jamon through adaptive sports and Hunta I’ve just recently met, but I look up to so much as a newly qualified ASL interpreter in my state. So Jamon and I have been doing adaptive sports for several years now and he has taught me basketball skills, which I've needed that additional help with. I wasn't born disabled physically but I had that onset in early adulthood and so using a sports chair was a new experience for me, and there was a span during my disability where I did not have mobility devices. I mean, I just was totally unfamiliar with resources and I found that through adaptive sports, having that socialization and that network was very advantageous for me to learn about resources and for my self-esteem, my identity, and that's why I enjoy adaptive sports so much. I think if I had not met people, like Jamon and Hunta, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today and if I didn't have adaptive sports, I don't think I would have the functional capacity to be an interpreter. I had to recover a fair bit before I got here. Keith: Jamon and Hunta, please tell us how you came to do what you are involved with currently. Hunta: Go ahead Jamon, go first. Jamon: I will go ahead and go first. So you ask how I got involved with pretty much the sports world. I've been involved in it for my entire life. Now I do have to say now, in the beginning, I was considered an able bodied individual. I had full mobility of my leg. So I was a person that could walk. So later, I did get involved with different sports groups, different parts of athletics. I do have to tell you something important to the story. I was born in an athletic family and several years later, unfortunately there was a decline in my physical health. And at that point I did become wheelchair bound but still at that time, despite the disabling, I still went ahead and stayed involved with different sports like JV basketball, despite my mobility difficulties, I still took part in various different competitions. What I found that was important was sort of the mental determination to continue in that avenue. Let's see. So continuing on, like I mentioned playing basketball, I did later attend Gallaudet University in Washington, DC where they actually had a traveling team where as a team we had the opportunity to, oh God, where did we visit? The school itself was in Washington DC and there was, where else did we go? What was the name of that? Yeah. So it was actually, excuse me, interpreter clarity. We just want to get the name of this. So the name of the team, the name of the team was called the Air Capitals, and we were considered to be a group of young adults recently out of high school. I had the opportunity to play with them for several years. I think I was maybe when I turned the age of 20, give or take, I took part in the NRH. I became an NRH ambassador, a part of that ambassador's basketball league and that cohort was in the state of Maryland and we were actually division two, I do have to say, as a part of that ambassador's group. So, I mean, I was a part of that for quite a while and then, let's see, around the Thanksgiving holiday season we actually had a coach that visited us from one of the local universities. The name of that school was Edinburgh University and after having that visit from the coach, his visit allowed him to really see the tournament in action, see what I could do and he wanted me to go ahead and play with his team in Pennsylvania. Now, at the time I was attending Gallaudet University but still, he still offered the invitation for me to just come and see what the team, what it was giving maybe during the summer when we were out of session. So after a brief visit, I pretty much got hooked. I thought it was a good match for me. Everybody on the team was incredibly welcoming, so I went ahead and made the transition to play a part of that group, and I played with them for a total of, I'm gonna say about three years there in Pennsylvania. What else? Mm. So after spending several years up there, I actually received a diagnosis, unfortunately, of muscular dystrophy. So after that diagnosis, I do have to say it really gave me a hit. I mean, it hurt to hear that news because prior to that, I was being recruited to play not only on the recreational level, but on a professional level for basketball, both domestic as well as internationally in Spain. So you can imagine being called from these various different recruiters after they found out about my diagnosis, unfortunately I had to sort of rescind my involvement or opportunity to take part in that. So I went ahead and continued my academic tenure and returned back home. Once I returned home. Let's see. Then that's when Sportable came into the picture. So the Sportable team by designation are called the Rim Riders. So I took part with the Rim Riders for a short time from, let's see, I would say maybe the early two thousands. And it was pretty, it was a bit of a complicated situation. So I did have to go ahead and step out of that group. And I think I was with them for about five years after the Rim Riders. One moment the interpreter is getting a little clarity. So I met an individual by the name of Carrie, who was actually one of the overseeing managers for Sportable. I spoke with her and she offered a recruitment opportunity for me to really just go ahead and make an effort in playing, not basketball this time, but lacrosse. I was pretty much sold on the offer and it became a traveling experience. I got to take part in different positions within the sport. Let's see, I was a midfielder, which required me to navigate up and down the field which as they knew I had mobility restraints, so they thought that position would actually be befitting for me, but later I was moved over to. So I would move over to offense as on the attack side, and that transition was perfect for me. I really thrived in that role, which I thought defense was going to be my place, but it really helped my defensive skills playing both offense as well as defense. So that transition, again, really boosted my lacrosse acumen. I had no problem as far as making quick moves, stopping on a dime, it seemed like me being in that position, it was really perfect for the team and then goalie. Then goalie was my next experience, and you would think that the first two spots were perfect for me, but you should have seen when I became the goalie, that was definitely my bread and butter. That was maybe around 2015 and that was actually the first time that we had ascended to the national level while I was playing in that position. Unfortunately, we didn't do that well at nationals. However, as the goalie, it was still an incredible experience and I would say I did a fair job. So it, again, at the national level, we didn't do that well, but I still earned the MVP. So that experience, like I said, was back in two thousand, let me get the year 2017, and so now we're working on our fourth national tournament competition. God. So I've been playing lacrosse pretty much ever since that point and I do wanna let any of you know that if anybody is in the Richmond area next month from February, excuse me, on February the 12th, we're actually going to be having a lacrosse wheelchair clinic. And there will also be a scrimmage taking place against the University of Richmond, their lacrosse team. So the time is going to be 10 o'clock in the morning. Again, that was February the 12th. See, what else did I wanna add? For those who don't know, I am also a poet. Currently I am in the process of scripting my second book. The goal for that is to have it published and released this year at some point. So unfortunately, I can't tell you the exact date of that release because of unforeseen reasons, however, just keep your eye out on that. Just for all listeners and viewers. What else did I wanna add? So I think that's pretty much it for me. Thank you for letting me ramble and if you guys have any questions, I'm open to answering. Hunta: Hey everyone, this is Hunta here. How do I explain how I got here? Well, my life has been a journey that continues to be, and I've had several different experiences and before I became deaf and blind, I was sighted before my sight had declined. I was in a different place, different positions of work. I was a chef, I still cook. Yep. I am still a chef, if you will. I was an ASL professor for K-12 as well as on the collegiate level for post-secondary work. Two very different approaches when you look at K-12 and post-secondary and then later on I fell in love with interpreting. It was probably around 2016, I wanna say roughly around there, just before then. I already kind of knew I was already multilingual with my family. We spoke Arabic in my household growing up. Also English, of course, open English, but ASL was not one of those languages. So how did I interact with them? Well, the understanding was at that time, I mean, having an understanding and having a handle on disability. I didn't really have that until I really started school. For graduate school, I went to Gallaudet University. I actually just graduated 2019 with my cohort before Covid happened and just before then, I found myself deaf blind. My sight was, I had an accident that involved TBI, traumatic brain injury, which then impacted my eyesight. And my eyes became more sensitive and it was found that I was disabled and I'm not able to stand for too long or my muscles can atrophy quite easily or my nerves can quickly get tired. I later learned it was fibromyalgia that I actually was diagnosed with and so I'll call that FMS, just moving forward. And so it impacted my teaching, right? Can't stand for too long, and so I had to shift careers and I just immersed myself with interpreting. I lived in Richmond, Virginia up until a year ago, and I've lived in New York City, I've lived in Minnesota. And when I lived in Minnesota, Minnesota really taught me a lot about really engaging conversations about politics as well as physical capabilities and so much more. I mean, just name it, I learned it right? I was fully immersed in it and so I continued to, I then continued to become my own business owner, which is called Evolution of Science. And what does that mean? It includes the focus of disability and centric identity of just looking at focusing on different people with disabilities. A lot of people don't really talk about deafness though deaf, blind and deaf identity and there's not a lot of conversations that I see in disability centric spaces. Sure, if we're talking about hearing or sight spaces, you talk about disabilities, but what about deaf and deaf blind? And so there was a lot of information that was lacking just in our own deaf and deaf blind communities. Right and a lot of deaf people have a lot of pride. Yes, there's a lot of solidarity in feeling that pride. But I thought, man, I wanna become an advocate though. I wanted to become an advocate. So I got involved in advocacy to really enhance and make some improvements on protocol and policy. And now being involved in the interpreting field, a lot of people say to me, oh, you're such a good interpreter Hunta. And I'm like, well listen, let me be clear. There's a certification and there's no certification. It depends on how much experience that makes you qualified. I myself, I wish I was certified. I wish I was certified. I wish. But that's a long process and I've experienced many barriers and one biggest barrier is financial need. Another thing that disabled folks experience is how do we get support to have financial needs to provide what deaf, deafblind folks need to have access to make certification affordable? And that's the reality. There's another layer. It's not just that I'm deaf, deafblind, I'm also trans, I'm also sighted, yes, but it doesn't really matter. Like there are barriers there that if I wanna become an advocate, it really actually was through Alison. I mean, I've known Jamon since college, back in the day, I looked at him with a lot of pride, sense of pride. And you know, the truth is that back then I was sighted, right? I was sighted. So I wanted to be, just working with him, being a proud ally, just making sure that I learned so many of the barriers that he was a part of and I was involved with that back then. I didn't realize that actually looking at Jamal allowed me to support myself and the barriers that I would later face up in my life, which I'm facing now. He taught me to fight. And we continue to fight and when we fight, we see it. We see that resilience happening and we need to, you know, and we won't ever stop. So both my work is in interpreting and I'm also an independent business owner and I'm an advocate and you know, I just try to be out here and do the best that I can. Jamon: So, yeah, I did wanna just add one other thing. So as Hunta was talking, it just reminded me of something. As he mentioned, sort of those barriers and the struggles that you experienced, particularly within the realm of Sportable, sort of going to the different practices and the games having interpreting services was something that just was not present during that time. So you can imagine this level of difficulty that that was for me. And so now when we talk about our friend Allison here, the two of us we're, well, all of us really, we're in the process now of ensuring that level of accessibility for interpreting services to ensure that those sort of accommodations are laid out and made or arranged for individuals who need that service because when you arrive to any sort of setting, you want to ensure that you have full access to set setting. So when an interpreter is present, no matter where I am, I have full access. Things are much more clear. Communication is transmitted fluidly, there are no delays, and I can engage comparable to my peers, speaking to the necessity of interpreters. So it really does make a huge difference. Allison: And I would like to add to that. So adaptive sports, they accommodate the environment for physically disabled people. They help blind people navigate the environment, but this is not a consistently looked upon area. And when you boil it down to just the environment and having access to the environment, that is so important for socialization, instruction, for self-confidence, and there are minors and adults that show up to these sports, and that is something we would like to see general procedure change in, and we would like to see more education in that area. One of the big stymies is that there is title two, which says if there's an undue financial burden, a nonprofit does not have to provide those interpreting services. But I strongly believe, as an interpreter myself, that those nonprofits can be educated about tax credits, their local resources, like interpreting training programs and interpreters as well, can gain more knowledge in this area and understand specific needs with disabilities. So not everyone on the team can learn sign language fluidly. And that's just something that happens. It's not something that happens overnight. Out of all of the people that I know locally, only two of us know sign language and we cannot play sports and have that level of cardio activity and try to relay information. It's just not feasible. On top of that, there are people that are missing limbs. There are people that have physical disabilities. There's now people joining the program that have traumatic brain injuries, and we shouldn't be placing the onus on deaf athletes to teach sign language to every single one of their teammates and every single one of their coaches. And I've been hearing stories from other states of, oh a deaf child showed up and we did our best. Well, I believe, and I think everyone that is getting interviewed today believes that there are ways that this can improve. It might take a little effort, but locally and nationally, we believe that procedures can improve so that people are included. That's all I wanna add. Keith: Each of you talked a lot about the access problems and the adaptability and the need for more adaptability within the sports and sporting organizations. What are some things that you really like about adaptive sports and what, I'm thinking of the Netflix documentary of Phoenix Rising 2020, about the Paralympics and how do you think that adaptive sports can be presented to our non-disabled counterparts? Jamon: Yeah, I'm happy to start. Let's see. Woo. How can this really apply to the disabled as well as the non-disabled community? So if you just simply consider individuals who may be in wheelchairs, we can consummately do everything that anyone who has able-bodied legs can do. So my wheelchair taking part in basketball still allowed me to play at all the different positions at the same level on, excuse me, within an adaptive setting, of course, well let me give you an example. So with wheelchair basketball and you consider the act of dribbling and you're navigating down the court, you still have to dribble amidst your wheelchair, similar to as you would do in the standard sport of basketball. So active dribbling and passing still takes place and if you really consider it, you're multitasking because you not only have to dribble, but you also have to maneuver your chair. So that's just kind of an example of just a push that one has to do when playing the sport of basketball. So you have the dribble, the retrieval, the driving, all while in a mobile wheelchair. So if anything, it's a lot more difficult than our counterparts and it's very challenging. You also have to move with crazy speed, similar to any other sport. It's a competitive setting. So as you are playing with your opponents, there are various different aspects to not only basketball, but also lacrosse, as I mentioned earlier, and I told you that I had played for several years. So having to navigate the lacrosse field in a wheelchair, if anything, was much more difficult for the opponents because they weren't used to having players on the field that use wheelchairs. Lacrosse as well as basketball, like I stated, requires a heavy amount of mobility navigating up and down the field. So if you consider our wheelchairs, it's metaphorically the same thing as their legs. Hunta: This is Hunta here. I was involved with a lot of sports and a lot of different activities. One that I really enjoyed was disc golf, not Frisbee, disc golf. Just to be clear, disc golf is its own sport. It's different from your standard Frisbee playing if you will. So yeah, I mean, adaptations and just having a group of just deaf folks play was really great. And again, at that time I was sighted and I was able bodied, but sometimes, you know, I'll go ahead, when I throw the, currently, now when I throw the frisbee, I know where I'm throwing that frisbee, but I need to know where it lands. And then they will show me where it lands. And after that, we do our turn taking and we all throw our frisbee, our disc, and then we meet up and sometimes it works out well. Sometimes it's just a lot of finger pointing and like, okay, well, you know, I need to follow where the disc is going and be able to, you know, follow the target because it falls into the little chain cage, if you will. That's where we have to throw the disc in. And so hopefully, you know, I have somebody to just walk with me, to make sure that I know where I'm going. And so the one comment about me now is that I can't quite see far distances. I used to be able to, but now with my sight changing over time, I don't really have that same access. So that was a really difficult part for me. But now that I've been a part of tournaments and working with and playing with other folks such as those who are hearing and those sighted, and unfortunately I can't always go there because they don't always provide accommodations. That sport they look at as sighted only and only for those who are able-bodied. So that was a barrier for me. And I wish I had, you know, maybe like an indoor, like a really huge indoor space because that's really nice for accommodations too, for folks who struggle with going outside and especially during indecent weather, whether it's snowing or the rain or what have you. And there's a lot of folks who love playing disc golf and I mean, there are a lot of different folks who love to play through the weather too, but it's just nice having more access and capabilities if you have indoor usage of a facility. So those are some barriers for me that I would like to name. I mean, it would be nice to set something up here in Richmond, but the hardest part is interpreters, interpreting services. There's not a lot of folks who have knowledge and understanding and the content working with people with disabilities and our engagement with sports. So really, you know, it's just like when Jamon had mentioned, you know, it's true. I mean, nothing's gonna stop us from doing what we enjoy doing. We're just naming the barriers that are present. But also what's different is that there's timing and we need more time because we actually, value timing. It's a value of ours. You know why? Because we need to take the time to look for the disc, because if we threw our disk into the woods, we need time to look for it. So we need to figure out how to honor extended time to really accommodate different players. Sometimes I'll play early in the morning all the way to the afternoon, but the reality is, sometimes you can go all day long, but as soon as the sun goes down, it gets harder. Right? For folks who have low vision, folks who are deaf blind, there's some who might have some sighted ability, which is myself, but that doesn't honor everyone with different demographics, right? So for me, throughout the day, I had to figure out how I can use a headlamp to help me navigate and see where I'm going. So that's one accommodation that's helpful, but there's so many different kinds of equipment and tools, and I'm realizing that as I'm mentioning that, that even time zones, right? When we're thinking about time zones in the fall, the winter, it gets darker faster, right? In the wintertime, so maybe at five or six o'clock, the sun goes down sooner. Whereas in the spring and the summer, our sun is up and out, right? And we have longer days and the sun doesn't go down till nine or 10. And those are my seasons. That's my season. I love it. But those, is that the only season I can play, right? So with some adaptations, honestly, it's tiring. I'm tired of using my emotional labor to say, can you please provide that? Can you please support us with this? Can you please provide equitable access for this? And they're like, well, we don't have the money. Sorry, we don't have it in our budget right now, this time, and we just don't have the fine. Is that the time? I'm like, wow. Okay. Well is it just money? I know that money talks but is that it? I mean, there are so many things that we really need to establish, especially with ADA law. ADA law has already explicitly said the different types of ways to provide accommodations, and we still don't get access. And that makes me feel some kind of way, right? So personally, as a black person, I already go through enough labor as it is navigating this world through various kinds of spaces, and now you wanna add the layer of my disability and you wanna add another layer and another one and another one with all my different intersection identities. It just gets to the point where I'm like, okay, how much more do I need to prove who I am, what I am, and what I deserve to have in terms of accommodations? Right. What are some ways where I feel like, I mean, these are the smallest things like. One example I can think of is when I asked for preferences. Like people think, well, okay, well you have to be a certified interpreter to provide interpreting services for folks. And I'm like, well, some certified interpreters don't know squat. Right? I mean, there's certain things where, okay, they don't know how to interpret in sporting arenas, or they don't know how to adapt. I mean, what does it mean when an interpreter can provide quality services for you? I mean, sometimes interpreters ignore our preferences. Sometimes I've seen preferences being had, and sometimes I've seen the comfort level of what deaf people want and they know what they want, right? And so sometimes it just seems like oftentimes deaf people have to follow what hearing interpreters provide. And that's not ok. That's not ok. I've been encouraging, you know, like, no, that's not right. Interpreters are the ones that need to adapt, but how do we file those kinds of grievances? Right? So it's just another barrier for our deaf, disabled folks and deafblind folks where, listen, we have preferred interpreters. The reality is I don't wanna become demanding, but that's what we have a right to have. We have a right to have what we want, who we want, because we know that when we work with them, there's no issues that we'll face. And we will have to face many issues in the future. So when, whether it's an organization that's nonprofits, especially with nonprofit organizations or, for-profit, either one, sometimes they're being hypocritical. They'll say, yeah, we'll provide accommodations. We'll provide what you need, but they give you just enough. And I'm like, well, what does just enough mean to meet your needs? Like, so for instance, like, DHH, because they require certification and that's where I just feel. It broke my heart. It broke my heart because I see a lot of people with disabilities who are not, who are just getting the good enough services and they're not getting what they deserve. They're not getting their passions, being honored and met. I'm passionate too, and yet I'm only getting good enough services. But we need to think about what does it mean to be inclusive? Define that. Define that for me. What does inclusive mean to you? I think we have two different definitions. If you're not giving me what I deserve to have access to, and so many different minority groups are trying to experience the same as their peers, as their privilege. So let me just tell you, I'm just not satisfied. The good enough is not enough. Jamon: Yeah, this is Jamon. Again, Hunta sparked some thought in me and I just wanted to add my little tidbit. So I do have to say, many times they do call me the triple threat. Not for the reasons of me being black. Not only am I black, I am a deaf individual and I'm a black deaf individual with a disability. And I wouldn't say that there's a negative connotation being called a triple threat, but it's more so it leans to my ability to advocate for other individuals. So as we've been discussing all of these barriers and struggles that we face, being black, being deaf, being disabled, it comes with its own intersection of challenges. Not to mention the level of external oppression that we face regularly. My ultimate goal is to continue to really advocate and just raise awareness and education of the greater good to really get a better understanding that even though we are different, excuse me, that we are not all the same. Everyone has its own. We all have our own individual intricacies. We don't all eat the same. Say, if we all went to the cafeteria, we wouldn’t all eat the same things. We have our own individual preferences, and it's similar to the world of disabled individuals. We're not all a monolith. We come in different shapes and sizes and experiences. So if we talk about myself, I have no issues with opening doors, or excuse me, do I need someone to open a door for me? It's much appreciated. However, it is something that I can do. And if there's no accessibility with entryways, hopefully there's some sort of access through pushing of a button to get into certain spaces. But my point is that we are not all the same. Each of us comes with our own variable experiences. So it's important to really keep that in mind. So when you look at us, do you think that all accommodations fit all of us in the same way? Is really something we need the greater public to really understand. So thank you for letting me add that. Allison: And I would like to add something as well. Recently our ID has created a database where people can find the appropriate interpreter for them. There are two search tools. There is gender and there is ethnicity and so to kind of go back a little bit, in 2015, the data showed that most interpreters, nearly nine out of 10 interpreters, were white women. There has been up to this point, absolutely no data on disabled interpreters. There is no member section for them within the registry of interpreters for the deaf. And that is our governing body as interpreters. So I have been interested in starting a member section for disabled interpreters so that maybe that can become an avenue of advocacy for users and also we can learn from each other. There's no, I mean it's like your logo is for Disability Empowerment Now, we can share wisdom with each other. And I feel like nobody knows disability barriers quite like when you're living it. Like there are things that I know that I've personally seen where it's like, where people involved in sports transportation can be an issue. These are not barriers just in sports. It's barriers that affect your daily living, and so we need more diversity in the pipeline of interpreters. We need to have more resources that are ready when people arrive. Our profession is still developing and yeah it's somebody in the chat just said, “right, nicely said.” But it's true. We need to have more diversity in the field and I feel like a lot of people in the disability community, if they're anything like I was, aren't sure that they can enter this profession; but that's absolutely not true. We choose assignments based on what we are a good fit for. So that is all I wanted to add. Thank you. Keith: Do any of you feel like you are a part of a minority, within a minority and how do we begin to bridge the intersectionality between different disabilities? Is that even the goal? Because you are right, we are not all the same in terms of our access needs. I'm not an athlete but my guests are so I'm coming from and to this interview learning so much that I normally would not know. And so, yes, we've talked a lot about what we hope that our temporarily abled body counterparts can know about adaptive sports and what we need. What can our fellow disability advocates, or fellow disability sports men and women and other genders know about the complexities of the accessibility needs of adaptive sports? Jamon: Yeah, that's a great question. Hunta. Oh, Hunta, you can take it. Hunta: Oh, okay. Thank you. This is Hunta here. What they need to know is that, again, accommodations, many people say, well, they think accommodations just mean preferences or preferred, no, that's not what accommodations mean. So let's make that clear. Accommodations are what they're able to provide. Communication capabilities so that communication can be successful so that there are no communication barriers. If you are able-bodied and or not able-bodied, we need to be able to honor the needs. You should not be asking people with disabilities to look at and honor the needs of those who are able-bodied. Able-bodied people need to know what those things are. Be open and be receptive to understanding what those needs are and that all combinations are different for every person. And how disability advocates can continue to support that is knowing that disabled people, and I just wanna emphasize again, hearing disabled people and deaf people who are deafblind, deaf disabled, deaf. So different. So different. I myself work with an ASL coordinator for all hearing disabled spaces since invalid is a hearing organization, very big hearing, sighted. They believe in crip philosophy and framework. They don't, they've reclaimed that word. They've reclaimed that and we say we are deaf, we are deafblind, and they allow, they want deaf deafblind interpreters to be part of the work. And so we support them. They support us, and that's how we work in solidarity. But the way that they look at us is different from how we look at them, right? Because they are hearing disabled people and we are deaf disabled people. And so a lot of people automatically think, oh, well, if you're deaf, then you must not be able to do things, so they're already oppressed. It's like, well, no, and it's just because it's based on your deafness, but that's not true. And so now you wanna add race and ethnicity in that intersection, intersection identity. Ooof, that's hugely controversial today. And the reason being, and the reason I'm mentioning that is because there is this privilege, this privilege in looking at that. For instance, a black person I don’t have the privilege as certainly, it's not the same privileges as a hearing disabled person. Their journeys are gonna be different and you can compare the two. So how do we look at disability advocates? We have to ask them to be openhearted and open minded. I mean, when you look at minorities of minorities, you need to be open to deaf, deafblind, deaf disabled people, and look at us as a whole community and also be aware of what other companies can provide. It's not just interpreters, they just need more education, more training. Unfortunately, I mean, you can't just be educated from, you can't only earn education from those who are only sighted and those who are only able-bodied. You can't just gain that information from them. They need to work with other intersectional identities and minorities, especially those who have lived experiences, they're only getting their education from those who don't have the same narrative. They need to hear from folks like me, Jamon, and other people to educate them because they need to be able to look at what better resources to provide. Because we've been neglected, we've been ignored, and they, and for some reason it's just been accepted. And now we need to say, no, let's center this. Let's talk about this because I'm tired of hearing, look, it's too expensive. We can't afford it. It's like, okay, well let's negotiate this. But they often say, okay, what are you negotiating? Well, let's do pro bono, or let's do this and that. And I'm like, you know what? No. In fact, I want to charge more because of my labor. You're hurting and causing harm to our communities, especially as a black person who's deafblind and deaf disabled. I'm a very outspoken advocate. I don't wanna have anyone mess with us ever again. Because the reality is that we're done. We're done with how we're viewed. And even though you say, one could say, well no, I support people with disabilities. Why, I'm a disability advocate? No, you need to stop. You need to walk your walk and talk the talk. Go ahead, Jamon. Jamon: I'm with you. You're on it. I'm with you 100%. So I guess what I wanted to add with the question in regards to being minorities within a minority is I really feel that as a black individual that's also deaf and using a wheelchair, that the intersection of those three identities really, let's see, let me think. How can I clarify this the best possible? So if we look at the top tier, you know, you have the community of the empowered hearing world, and then if we bring it down a level, so, well, excuse me, you may consider white people at that top tier as well, as well as able body individuals narrowing it down to, so now we're moving on down to the community of black or white disabled individuals. That disability can be deafness, but of, of course, that comes along with its own form of oppression. And with that sense of oppression, it really requires a sense of open-mindedness from the external community to really be willing to understand the struggles that we experience. I understand that it's not an easy task, and I understand that accepting this terminology is not the easiest thing to swallow. However, it is our reality. But what we need more than anything is that from these advocates who are willing to align with us, to truly understand and open up your experiences, be willing to have an open mind to offer a level of accessibility that you may not be used, because I do have to say that there are so many who truly they overlook the community of athletes. Particularly athletes with disabilities, athletes with disabilities who may be of minor ethnic minorities. So we are also in need, similar to these upper tiers. So we really just want to have the opportunity to inform them that it really is an oppressive act when you are close-minded toward our community. We really are seeking a greater sense of understanding of the unseen barriers that you may not have known and we're really asking you all to really just meet us halfway if you meet us halfway. I really think that by our mutual efforts, we really can work this thing out, that a lot of these gaps, they can be bridged and we can really see accommodations really come through to fruition. I mean, really if you just sort of imagine those top, the upper echelons, if they met halfway of the more marginalized communities, the kind of world that we would eventually be able to experience. I mean, utopian, I really foresee success if we get that sort of collaborative effort. You know, you get people from various different backgrounds and experiences that if we all come together, we can really see success because we truly need you all, similar to as you all need us because we are part of this world together. And I really think that is the way to achieve the greatest life possible. Allison: I was gonna mention really quickly that if someone doesn't have an interpreter or the accommodations that they need, because everybody has different accommodations that they wanna use, that they find accessible. If you don't have that accommodation, how can you advocate for yourself, and the advocates? It's not perfect. It is, you know, we're trying to reach out and, and bridge that, but if somebody uses protactile interpretation, it's not something that I can handle on the internet and give that person access still. We are unfunded. This is just, nothing has existed like this and it's very hard to understand why. We, I think, can do something as far as grants, partnerships, putting deaf athletes in positions of leadership, having somebody representative of that on the International Paralympic Committee. There was in 2021, a deafblind swimmer that was not able to get an accommodation met for the Paralympics, and they went to those two places. Becca Meyers was her name, and they had to withdraw. So I'm struggling to understand why in 2023, this has not been confronted by the adaptive sports community locally and nationally. There has to be some change in procedure so people can advocate for themselves. Keith: Is there a lack of data regarding deafblind athletes in the US? And if so, why is that, and most importantly, how do we fix that problem? Hunta: That's the most common thing. I mean, in terms of the system, right? We're talking about the systems, right? The hearing system's way of doing things is they often just don't, and they neglect and we have been neglected and ignored for quite some time. And that's just been an ongoing problem. I mean, up until recently, when we're looking at the ADA law, deafblind folks, we have a big deafblind community in Minnesota, in Seattle, Washington, in Oregon State, and in those three places, they're huge deafbling communities. Big, huge, deafblind communities and since the pandemic, those areas have been impacted. There's been a huge cry for protactile, and again, the Disability Olympics, Paralympics, right? But unfortunately, with that kind of funding and the funding being cut, it's been cut because, well, you know, you don't really need that. You don't really need that. Right? You don't really need that accommodation. And the reality is again, with the money conversation, we are looking at interpreting costs and what interpreters costs, well, interpreters charge a variety of things, but they're so expensive at the end of the day and again, that's another barrier. Sometimes when I ask for a reason why I'm being told no, though it'll be a vague answer. They won't give me a direct answer. There are tons of folks who participate in the Deaf Olympics, but there's not a lot of exposure. There has not been enough exposure in terms of understanding deafblind, deaf disabled and there's also not been understanding on the Paralympics level, looking at what needs to be improved, what things need to be enhanced in terms of funding and providing more financial need and support. And during Covid, oof, it was just, talk about a hit. There were just a lot of, I can't even explain it. It was terrible. So much funding was cut, so much funding was cut and there's so many limitations and there were already restrictions as it was and so it's just, folks have just forgotten how we wish that we could have more accommodations, but the funding money, financial resources, we've been forced to have to work and establish and be able to continue to amplify. And we've had to continue to do that on our own but the Paralympics, they just don't, I mean, it really just caused a lot of, it just was really, it was really painful. I don't have anything further to add by. I think it's just important. I mean, Jamon mentioned a lot of responses and I know that he agrees with me, but honestly, if we're looking at the whole picture of how much has been cut, now, there's been deafblind grants being provided. That's great. That's great. But what about deaf disabled people? What about pro textile combinations and approaches? There's some certified interpreters who do pro textiles, and they're terrible because they're only used to doing 101. Remember, there was a time where, look, the standards of help were different. Everything's relative, and when you work with one person, it's going to be different when you work with the next person. And I've experienced working with an interpreter who did not understand and gave me pro tactile and did not gimme full access to the contextual needs that I needed to the environment that I was in. I need contact space. I need to know, I mean, that's the most, that's primary. I need to know contacts. I need to know what's happening in my space, and on Zoom, that's almost impossible. It's impossible to access that. In person, oh, it's great. It's such a drug and it's perfect. But the reality is that not all states can provide pro tactiles at high quality. There are some interpreters who have experience with pro textile and they're able to work with deaf, disabled people. That's great. But there's not many here in Virginia. There is a large, I mean, there was a huge impact because I don't see too many strong, and I do mean strong and fully immersed, deaf, deafblind, deaf, disabled advocates here. I don't see a lot of the advocacy here. There's not a lot. There's not enough. I just don't see too many of them, and that includes sports and hobbies, and I'm concerned about our younger children, right? Deaf, disabled children and children with disabilities. Like what are we doing for the next generation? How do we support them? I'm sure Jamon and myself and others can fight and advocate and, and further amplify the work, but who's helping us to move forward in this movement? I'll pass it over to you, Jamon . Jamon: Yeah, I really just wanted to jump in there. I think Hunta pretty much said it all. That really the most important part is for us to work collaboratively to sort of come to the same table because we know that the pandemic took place. And so if things are taking place virtually or in person, it's important for certain discussions and conversations to happen so that we can really iron out the finite details so that people can really get a visual of what really needs to take place so that proper accommodations can be met. Whether it's a person who has limited physical capabilities or something of the like, having all of those things brought to a clear, concise conversation allows both parties to see the different vantage points and really come up with a consummate solution. Reiterating what Hunta really mentioned is they're working together to gain a better understanding of the different limitations that individuals experience is essential. That collaboration within the disabled community, not to mention, within that subset, is also necessary. So after that conversation takes place, it can then be brought to other intersections, whether it be the hearing community or those who are able-bodied individuals, those that may be sighted, we then have a better presentation to bring to our able-bodied counterparts so that they can then really gain that understanding of what limitations look like for us. Because I understand that it can be a struggle that if full knowledge is not available, but as we begin to sort of disseminate this awareness, the impact that the minority can have on the majority is really, really possible. I mean, imagine really having open access to financial resources, having advocates readily available within the majority sector would be a tremendous benefit. So, and it really, I think that's a more positive way to engage and educate others to know what we are facing, as opposed to sort of the conflict antagonistic, fighting approach. What we need is for both sex to really come together, like I mentioned, coming halfway, to have that open dialogue, and I really think that that will allow various different doors that have been shut for so long to now be open for all. So yeah, it really needs to start as of right now to be honest with you, and continue to carry on and perpetuity. So yeah I really just want to see change, not only for our current standing, but for the future. I really wanna see change, long standing change take place. I love to see programs get set up for those who have visual impairments, those who may have physical limitations across the disabled spectrum. I would love to see doors of opportunity open for the entire gamut. Allison: And just to go back to your question, Keith. I've tried to find numbers and data regarding deafblind and deaf disabled athletes in sports, and I don't think it exists. If it does exist, someone please contact me. But I did have a question for you, Hunta and Jamon. As someone that's been posting on the advocates page and trying to find things that are accessible to everyone, I've wanted to ask if you feel like you've been represented within the deaf community, because I've seen very few things that even address being deaf, disabled, or deaf-blind within the majority deaf community. Jamon: So, yes. To be honest with you, I actually move in silence. That's typically my motto. So you mentioned sort of communicating with the deaf community at large. Unfortunately, I have not seen a lot of that as well. Maybe because I have not been as visible and though that is a part of my identity, I mean, you already know I do have physical challenges and oftentimes I do find that I get dismissed from some of my deaf counterparts. So I would think that because we share that similar intersection of our identity in being deaf. I sometimes do get out sighted because I do require the use of a wheelchair. And it's almost this internalized sort of oppression that I'm seeing and this is part of the reason why I published my first poetry book. And the goal was to really get a lot of support from the deaf com community, but unfortunately, that was not the reality. Now, I did have a few supporters, I don't want to erase them, but as far as the community at large, it was not a lot of support. And I think it's because I am not like them, so to speak. I'm not only deaf, but I have additional sort of exceptionalities that really oppress me or put me, in their eyes, on a lower tier within the community. Which again, I consider myself a consummate part of the community, but they don't see it that way. I thought by using the similar communication modality that we would be on the same page, but I think that because of my additional disabilities, it really causes some displacement. So I mean, for that reason, I now move in silence because that has been the majority of my experiences. I just kind of take the lone ranger approach. I just look up to sort of my higher power to get things done and I don't really expect other people to partner with me. I don't expect them to understand my experience as a disabled person. So there are some internalized issues within the deaf community that do limit this sort of collaborative approach. So my hope is that as we move forward, that we can address that. However, I mean there, the ice itself is cracked at this point that we can't move forward until there's some sort of reconciliation in that regard. I mean, I'd love to see us achieve a level of unity, some solidarity, but there's too many cracks in the surface right now. You know, we don't want to have a part of the hearing community but we still want financial resources from that group. So we really need to figure out a way to bridge these gaps and establish a stronger foundation in order to move forward. Oh, now your question was, I guess the question really is more about the how. Hunter, did you have something you wanted to add? Hunta: Hunta here. You already know what it is Jamon. I'm noticing a lot of the comments from a deaf community. How do deaf people look at deaf, disabled? They feel like it's additional work. It just feels like it's an additional labor, they say. Another thought too is that I received two different kinds of approaches before I became deafblind. There's a network where I will look at different educational backgrounds, right? Looking at different educational backgrounds. They'll ask me questions regarding my educational background, but they don't ask me questions regarding disability. They talk about education, but they perceive me as someone who's able-bodied, but they don't know what able-bodies are. I mean, honestly, my disability is invisible. I'm in chronic pain. I have chronic pain all of the time. That limits my physical ability to walk, to mobilize myself. I can't do too much. I have to sit and take breaks. I will experience temporary paralysis. I will be emotional. I will cry. Deafblind people, how they perceive me. I remember now I'm an interpreter and I've worked with many different kinds of interpreters in the field, and there's some deaf interpreters who will treat me differently. And I'll go, wait, wait, you're a deafblind. Hold on, hold on. Wait, wait, wait. Oh, oh, how? How? What? How do you need? What do you need? And they ask me 20,000 questions, and I'm like, okay. So I feel disconnected from them. I don't feel supported. That support is just completely gone and lacking. And then it becomes just victimization where it's like, okay, well, and then I just experienced being able to. Sorry. One moment. Distantism. What that means is that for deafblind is step one person where they'll say, no, I need distance. And so what happens? That happened during Covid, and so there was, that was written by a person by the name of John Lee Clark. Who himself is a deafblind individual. He's a white deafblind male who has actually written about this and has talked about how it impacted deafblind people during the pandemic. And there's been a lot of folks who talk about a lot of posts who talk about it, but when they look at when deafblind or a deaf disabled as mentioned, people are like, ah, the same topic over and over, over and over, they have to accommodate. It's just very limiting and it's just why are we looked at as an annoyance? And I've lost a lot of friends in the community because of that, which is really, really sad to me. And so that's why it's important to keep our people who are deaf disabled to deafblind folks typically stay quiet like Jamon said. I mean, they're more quiet. They find other avenues and other ways to garner support, to establish their own networking, to establish their own communities, to be able to amplify each other. And it's sad because how do we provide awareness? How do we do it, truly? How do we do it? It's a challenge, and there's just been so many challenges and accessibility challenges. Yes. But at the same time, how and when does one decide to stop judgment, bias, especially implicit bias. That's it. How do we stop that? How do we have those conversations? How do we ask folks to be open-minded and to open up their eyes to participate and begin that process? Because if folks can't do that, then I don't know what to tell you. We're gonna keep fighting. We're gonna keep fighting until we move forward. Jamon: Yeah. This is jamon. I completely agree. Just in addition to what Hunta was saying, that the judgment needs to stop and there requires a greater bit of understanding. I mean, he said it. I couldn't say it better. That where there's no understanding the struggle certainly will prevail. So I really think those individuals have every reason to speak up in my community, to really back us. So if there's something that I'm unable to do within my physical proximity that I can't get and I can't pick it up, it's not a matter of me being lazy. I don't understand why someone can't offer some assistance or even ask if there's anything in that moment that I may need support with. So even if you just inquire, you know, is there something that I can do? Do you need assistance with this thing? It really gets rid of that sense of judgment and they stop preconceiving me as being a lazy individual, because those preconceptions really cause the oppression to persist because they just kind of conceive me as someone who doesn't want to do things for myself. And sadly, by not asking these questions, they're gonna miss out on the plethora of things that I actually can do. So for that reason, again, as Hunter mentioned, that a greater sense of understanding is needed from the able-bodied community, that if there's something that you don't know or something that you notice from someone who may not look like you, it's important that you have the courage to go ahead and do what? Just ask. Inquire. If you're curious about what my struggles may look like, instead of casting judgment, I think it's important to, not only to me, but to other individuals you may see, to just go ahead and ask them to reduce this judgmental error. Thank you for letting me share. Allison: Oh, I just wanted to add, as far as speaking about persistent oppression, I feel like in the interpreting community that I've experienced, there is a pressure to be perceived as not disabled because that could impact your professionalism. And I feel like I've kind of been forced to pigeonhole myself into this space and try to create something so that if other people arrive, they're not going through what I experienced. And even setting up the advocates network page, I've had to be very vulnerable as a new interpreter, I'm not seeing a lot of participation from more seasoned interpreters. And actually every month since I've set that up, I've had an issue with harassment, sexual harassment, and I've had to think carefully. Is this the kind of person we want in this group? When there are other individuals here, this could happen to. No, this has to remain a safe space. So I think having more visibility in general is important and not feeling that need to have it hush hush if you're disabled in the interpreting community, because I know that disabled interpreters exist. I've heard about that, but it's just so hush hush and luckily I've met some good allies in the community, but it would be a boon to the deaf, disabled community if there was not the pressure to feel you need to hide that. Keith: So how do we encourage more collaboration both with our fellow disability advocates and athletes and those of us in the population or those in the population that happen to not yet discover their own disabilities? Allison: Well, I will say, I did post a picture about this because I feel like there are so many parties involved. You have the deafblind deaf disabled athletes. You have deafblind deaf disabled advocates. You have deaf able-bodied allies and interpreters that are sighted and able-bodied. You have hearing interpreters that are able-bodied and sighted and they're qualified. And then you've got these interpreting agencies, you've got the interpreting training programs, you have grant funding in adaptive sports where we're not seeing these grants that specifically say you can use this for language services. There are athletes that are hearing that are involved in this. And I will say I am not Philip K Dick Android. I do not know everything there is to know about adaptive sports because I haven't been in it my whole life. Those people have experience. There's nonprofits and hospitals that have these programs. You have deaf organizations, you have disabled activists, you have the Paralympic Committee. There are many people that are involved in this and it's gonna take some real strategizing to get us all on the same page because there's parties that may know a lot about things but they don't know about this other part. And, you know, I wish I was a lawyer. I wish I was an accountant. I wish I had more power in changing something. But it's just gotta be something where we're able to come together and work things out and I'm honestly not sure how to do that. I started this page, but I consider it more of a prototype, like you said, and it might take more strategizing, especially from these communities that know what they're doing. And we just need to have more people allowed to have leadership roles, and it just all goes back to whether or not they have the access in order to be able to do that. So that's my answer for that one. There's so many people involved. Hunta: I'd like to answer this question too for you, Keith. How do we collaborate? How do we work together? Our deaf community is huge. We have a huge deaf network, deaf owned businesses, including interpreting agencies as well as many other types of organizations, but there are a lot of hearing led organizations. The most common is deaf or hearing sighted who provide interpreting access and communication. So again, unfortunately there's just not enough exposure in that particular world where we are talking about deaf disabled, there's just not enough conversation. How do we have those conversations not having, being exposed to that impacts work and services. So let me give you an example. In some states, in different states, actually, there's some, for instance, in Virginia, there's a deaf and hard of hearing, help me out hand. I know. You know what, is it a service? I can't remember. It's maybe a Virginia Deaf, yes, VDDHH. Thank you. Thank you. Virginia Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission. Thank you. I'm new to the Virginia area, so forgive me, but their intention is to provide services to deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, and so on and so forth. They don't provide enough elaboration to the exposure of how to provide services for those who are deaf and disabled and that's where training is needed. They need more training and more practice and how to provide more collaboration so that they can collaborate. They need to have more of that and then other organizations may not have any experience at all and if they don't have any experience, then how do they offer services? Well, that means those organizational leaders need training. So that might mean asking other folks from other states who might be more adept and more knowledgeable, might need to be able to train those organizational leaders, because again, when you look at the hearing system, there's still a lot of, there's still argument as to what is ASL. Some say, well, ASL is not a language, but no, no, no. ASL is a language. That's the same concept. There are people who are having conversations about, well, what does access accommodation mean? Well, yeah, that's fine. Whatever your preferences mean, that means you don't necessarily need your interpreter. We don't need to accommodate, but we can try to, and then we can try to make a determination as to what you need just to satisfy the status quo, just to satisfy the check mark where you're not actually looking at the need of the client. So what does that mean? You need to train that person who is saying that, train the person of the agency owner, the leader of whatever institution, organization. We need to amplify and actually highlight more of those who are living this narrative, deaf deafblind, deaf disabled, and have these conversations in the open. Ask folks, why are you being quiet about this? I'm noticing that this is a publication that you've just dispersed. I've noticed that you've made this blog. There has to be more amplification to our work and honestly, when we are amplified, if we are, it only lasts for a month. And then the deaf community community focuses on other things. But why? Where are they throughout the year to continue to advocate? So what we need to do is we need to collaborate. Who are we? We need to invest. We need to invest in education, in training, and providing presentations. I love providing presentations. I love hosting dialogues. I love having conversations. I want to be able to have conversations with those who are sighted, and able-bodied. Are you willing to be vulnerable? Because we're willing to be vulnerable with you, and so the reality is that we want folks to be intentional and to consider what they've not yet considered before. Folks don't know what they don't know. Well, we're tired of being able to say, we can do this for free, or we can do this and accept that good enough is okay folks, able-bodied people might think they might know everything, but not everybody knows everything. Everyone is a student and everyone needs to learn from each other. Jamon: Yeah, I did wanna add that with the multiple sort of groups within the community. So if we consider within the state of Virginia, particularly the city of Richmond, they have groups for blind individuals. Of course, they're hearing. They have groups, however, when we consider where the deaf blind sector is, it's very difficult to find support. So you find readily available support for hearing visually impaired individuals. But when you speak to the deafblind community in particular it's a lot more difficult to find that level of support. Now they do have a school for the deaf and blind here in Virginia. Now, many people do defer to the local programs within the public school system, but it's not the same. You don't really get the aspect of socialization in the public school sector as you would get at a residential school for the deaf and blind. They are not congruent, because at a school, residential school for the deaf and blind, you have full socialization with your peers. So when we talk about the aspect of sports, you can imagine that you aren't going to have very many peers with the same experience as you within the public school sector. But if you do have the opportunity to attend a residential school, you get full inclusivity with other individuals who also have varying experiences of deaf and deaf blindness. Some that may even be comparable to what you experience. So now those public school programs, you know, they may, if you're lucky, have an individual who is deaf or deafblind that attends. But again, like I said, it's not the same as the experience would be at a residential school. So it has been mentioned a lot that it's important that we really educate individuals on what advocacy looks like, really advocating what individuals may need within these different settings and just make an effort to provide those services for whomever requires them. And like I mentioned before, if you ask those questions and you have those interactions, after provisions are made, you find a cascade and raise awareness from those experiences. And it's much more beneficial to the collective at large. So educating people is the name of the game and it has to be done. So thank you for letting me mention that. Keith: So in wrapping up, we could talk for another five hours and this would still be the end of part one, at least to me. In wrapping up, I'd like to think that this podcast reaches both disability advocates and athletes and all also the temporarily able-bodied, those who have yet to discover their own disability. I would be naive to think that everyone gets the same knowledge out of every episode. So as my guests, what do you hope that people with disabilities who are listening to this episode take away from this episode and what do you hope that the temporarily able-bodied listener or viewer, I am remiss in not only mentioning again that we are a podcast and a video cast. So for clarity, what do you hope that the disabled listener and viewer take away from this episode and what do you hope the temporarily able-bodied listener takes away from this episode? Jamon: Let's see. I would hope, I guess just a bit of advice. I'm going to just have to ask. I mean, it's really a simple ask, is that you really make an effort to gain understanding and in this understanding, really being willing to ask questions. If there's something that's unclear, please take the time to do some research. Don't hesitate to ask, whether it be the deaf, the deafblind community. If you've encountered an individual maybe in your proximity, just take the time to enhance your own knowledge and awareness by inquiring, there's no harm in doing as such. So not only try to gain an understanding, but also please be willing to seek a sense of unity, and really work collectively with the intersections of the disabled community. So, actually, let me backup a little bit. So I mentioned understanding. So we also just want to make, you wanna make sure that well. Not only are we gaining understanding, but we want to thank Keith for just allowing me to take part and be on this podcast. So to any of the viewers or listeners, take the chance to get into these conversations, find ways to become a better advocate, and thank you for letting me be a part of it. Hunta, did you have something to add? Hunta: I just wanna tell folks you're not alone. For those who are temporarily able-bodied people or maybe a disability is invisible like mine, I just want you to know you're not alone. You're not alone. Stand strong. Fight. Don't give up. You know why? Because there are others standing beside you, fighting with you and you're not alone in that. And maybe there are those who are ready to give up on life because the oppression and that weight is too hard and too heavy and too strong. Because reality is, I know I felt that way. I needed to get that wake up call and realize I'm not alone. There are one or two people that are right beside you in it with you in this fight. Being disabled is not just the thing that makes us special. It's our life. It's in our blood, it's in the air we breathe, it's in our resilience and it's in our strength and so it's our power. And we can fight together, y'all, we could fight together. And most importantly, just to keep in the back of your mind, wherever those barriers are. It's true. It's a lot. It's time to start speaking out. It's time for you to step up, step out, come through. We're gonna get there. We're gonna, we have each other. We're there. We're there. We just need each other to get there. So again, we need unity, like Jamon said, right? Unity is the thing that we need. That's crucial. It's not just that. Empathy, understanding, yes, but empathy. Understand my heart so I can understand yours. Think about that. Sit with that, how you wanna work on yourself. Look at doing that introspective work and fight. Look at those who are struggling, and for those who are struggling, find a positive struggle so that that can be the thing that works for you. Again, Keith, thank you so much friend, for inviting us to be here in this space. It's been a pleasure and honor, and I'll just look forward to working with you in the community. Thank you. Allison: That's beautifully said, and that's why you guys are my friends. I wanna say for the interpreting community in specific, because I've just been working really long days trying to get my footing as a new interpreter. There is a way that we can disclose, but anonymously, and I've spoken to the center of assessment for sign language interpreters and I've encouraged them to do anonymous polling so that we can know what interpreters are out there with disabilities. And I just wanna stress the importance of data. I'm not getting my master's degree but if there's anybody at Gallaudet listening to this, think about maybe gathering data in these areas, it's much needed. I just wanna thank Jamon and Hunter for lending your wisdom today. Really appreciate you both and Keith as well. Thanks. Keith: Thank you all for your passion and your vulnerability. I have certainly learned a lot and like I just said a few minutes ago, I view this as very much the part one of the discussion. All of you are welcome back on the podcast anytime you want. Thank you for everything you have said and taught us in this episode. Your work in both interpretation and adaptive sports is incredible and it is more vital to our disability community than you can possibly ever know. Certainly more vital than I can ever say. Thank you again for your dedication and your passion and your vulnerability. Keith: You have been listening to Disability Empowerment Now. I would like to thank my guest today and you, the listener. More information about the podcast can be found on visit on disabilityempowermentnow.com. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the official website. This episode of Disability Empowerment Now is copyrighted 2023.

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