Interview with Maria O’Neil Ruddock, Coordinator, Training, and Outreach Services, Community Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center.
Maria is also a racer for Cleveland Big Wheel Relay on the Flying Communicators team.
Tell me what the DAC is all about:
“The Deafness Advocacy Committee (DAC) at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center (CHSC), is a standing committee of the CHSC Board of Directors. All activities are reported to the Board at monthly meetings. Long time CHSC Board Member, Jon Wise, is the current Chair of the Committee.”
Why did the DAC get created?
“The DAC was created to ensure that the Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCD) and all its programs and services were being well represented and its unique needs addressed by the Board. The advocacy we provide in CCD differs from the work of the DAC. In CCD we provide advocacy for clients who are victims of crime, violence, or discrimination in order to ensure they get accessible and equitable treatment and service. The DAC generally looks at one particular cause or issue and works to come up with specific ideas to address them.”
Lauren Stellhorn and Maria O’Neil Ruddock
What are the toughest barriers when doing Deafness advocacy work?
The D/deaf community is a very underserved and little understood group. As a result few individuals or agencies know how to effectively work with D/deaf individuals. Thus, as an advocate we are in many different setting requiring we know about more than one area or specialty.
Describe to me a success story the DAC has had.
Last year the DAC empowered a group of deaf individuals to participate in Parade the Circle and to raise awareness about communication differences. We have also increased out DAC membership to include additional deaf members and the DAC now has more deaf members than hearing members.
If people want to get more involved, can they? How so?
At CHSC (or any other agency for that matter), being familiar with the ADA and the rights of D/deaf individuals to equally accessible services and programs allows anyone to be an advocate for communication access.