Spotlight on the Deaf-Blind Community

Hero Among Us

By Elizabeth Spiers
Jaimi Lard and Pam Ryan
Jaimi Lard and her interpreter Pam Ryan stand with Celtics player Paul Pierce (in green), Toronto Raptors caption Chris Bosh, (in red), and Massachusetts Lottery representative Mohammad Iq (in a suit).

Jaimi Lard could not see or hear the applause at her latest Boston Celtics basketball game. However, she could feel the vibrations when fans clapped and stomped their feet as she and her interpreter appeared at the game.

On January 23, 2008 during the Boston Celtics–Toronto Raptors game, Ms. Lard, an alumna of Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA, was recognized by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation as their “Hero Among Us.” She was nominated for this award because of her work as Perkins’ first official deaf-blind spokesperson. In this position, she educates the public about what she and other people who are deaf-blind can do.

Jaimi and Pam
Jaimi and Pam appear on a Jumbo Tron screen during the game.

“I gave a short speech, and everyone recognized me during the ceremony.” she said. “Some of my family members are Celtics fans, so I knew how important this was. I am not really a fan myself, but I enjoyed the game. My interpreter Pam Ryan and I got good seats, and Pam interpreted the game and ceremony for me. I also got a chance to meet Jo Jo White, a former player, and Paul Pierce and the current team members.”

Ms. Lard has been Perkins’s official deaf-blind spokesperson since June 2000. In this position, she speaks to colleges and universities, public and private schools, and civic organizations about the deaf-blind community, and her own experiences as a deaf-blind person.

To do her work, Ms. Lard relies on a variety of accommodations. “I can read print about 2 inches high, so I use Zoomtext for my computer,” she said. She also uses her computer to read emails and other written information. Ms. Lard prefers white print on a black background as it is easier to read messages. “I use tactile sign language, so I use tactile interpreters for my job. I also travel with them, or use a ride service to get to and from work, and to my appointments off campus.”

Ms. Lard has spoken on behalf of other deaf-blind people on other occasions. In 1995, she testified before the U.S. Congressional hearings on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act about the importance of educating people who are deaf-blind. Six years later, in 2001, she spoke to the first-ever Pan-American conference of parents of children who are deaf-blind about the possibilities of educating their deaf-blind children. In 2006, she addressed the 89th Annual Lions International Convention, the second deaf-blind person to do so (the first was Helen Keller).

Ms. Lard, a native of Patchogue, New York, was born deaf-blind (her mother contracted rubella during her pregnancy). She came to Boston at age five to attend the Perkins School for the Blind. She graduated from Perkins in 1986 and worked as a messenger for Brigham and Womens Hospital for 13 years before transferring to Perkins.

Ms. Lard is one of over 380 individuals who received the “Heroes Among Us” award. “I felt so proud to be receiving this award,” she said.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Ms. Lard and/or to invite her for presentations, people can go to People can also call 617-972-7335 or email

AADB in Action

Spring Board Meeting

The AADB Board of Directors will have its spring meeting on April 25 to 27, 2008 at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. For more information, people can contact the AADB Office


Online Donations

People can now donate to AADB online! For those who wish to donate towards a stronger AADB, it’s easy to do. Just go to our website at, and click on the donation link. There, just follow the directions. We can accept Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and American Express. If you need more information or assistance, contact the AADB Office.

Medicare Hearing Health Enhancement Act

Last month, AADB endorsed the Medicare Hearing Health Enhancement Act of 2007. The purpose of this legislation is to change outdated Medicare procedures that require Medicare patients to see a physician for hearing and balance problems first before seeing an audiologist. The bill saves money and time, and improves the quality of care by allowing Medicare patients the option to go directly to a qualified audiologist for hearing and balance diagnostic services. The following link has more information:

Please write your legislators to support this bill. As we go to press, AADB is in the process of writing a formal letter to the bill sponsors, Representative Mike Ross and Senator Tim Johnson. If you need help writing a letter, please contact the AADB Office and staff will work with you. Let your voice be heard!

Resolution to Support Equal Access to Communication Technology

The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), for which AADB is an active and vocal member, has announced a press release applauding the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners (NARUC) for passing a “Resolution to Support Equal Access to Communication Technologies by People with Disabilities in the 21st Century.” AADB is quoted in this press release. To view this press release in full, go to

If you can't access the web and would like to get copies of documents mentioned above, please contact the AADB Office for assistance.

Teacher and students in Classroom
Having an upcoming conference or workshop you want to announce? Want people to know about your spring board meeting or summer camp? Just send an email to with a description of the event and contact information.

Donation Opportunity

Irene Jankowski

Irene Jankowski Memorial Fund

The Irene Jankowski Memorial Fund has been established to honor the memory of Katherine F. Jankowski (Irene), who passed away on November 6, 2007. Irene had Optic Atrophy and was deaf-blind for most of her adult life. This fund in her honor will go towards educating people about the deaf-blind and low vision community. People can donate online at, or contact the AADB Office to request a donation form.

Community Events

MDBA Workshop:

The Minnesota Deaf-Blind Association (MDBA) is hosting a workshop on “Police, Part 2” on May 10, 2008. For more information, contact Lynette Boyer at, or TTY: 763-441-7877. People can also contact Mike O’Reilly at, or the MDBA Office at 651-647-6564 TTY/Voice.

SERID Conference:

The Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness conference will be held on October 22 to 26, 2008 in Atlanta, GA. For more information, call Tools for Life at 800-497-8666, send an email to, or visit

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AADB in Action
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