Learning and using sign language enhances creativity in deaf and hard of hearing people, to express themselves freely without the restraints of limited speech and lip-reading.

Language helps you communicate. Language helps you to express yourself. But most importantly, language allows you to think. Andrea Russell explains how learning and using sign language enhances creativity in deaf and hard of hearing people, allowing them to express themselves freely without the restraints of limited speech and lip-reading. Through her story, she shares the importance of American Sign Language in opening doors to make dreams come true.

About the speaker

Andrea Russell has been an Advocate for Deaf adults with mental health concerns and other challenges for over 25 years. She has been employed with different health and human services for Deaf Adults in Michigan, Indiana, Philadelphia and New York. She has a diverse professional background from her roles as a case manager, employment specialist, school transition coordinator, partial therapist, care coordinator, advocate, community navigator, and (informal) Deaf interpreter for many clients that she serves over the years. She graduated with Bachelors in Social Work from Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan She currently works at Deaf Access Services and serves on the Erie County Advisory Committee for Disabilities.

Andrea has been profoundly deaf since birth, due to a genetic disorder called Waardenburg Syndrome. She didn’t have the opportunity to learn ASL until age 9 when she was finally placed in a Deaf inclusive classroom. Prior to that she had to struggle to use a hearing aid and practice speech therapy from 9 months old. At age 13, when she started high school, she was once again discouraged from using ASL, resulting in inadequate access to communication, education and even relationships with friends and family. As an adult, Andrea has worked hard to regain and relearn American Sign Language (ASL) in order to have full access to communication. Andrea prefers communication in ASL over lipreading and speaking. Come learn why.

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