Category: News & Announcements

This Day in History: The 1st deaf player in the NFL

Bonnie Sloan in the NFL

On this day (Sept. 16) in 1973, the first deaf player ran onto the field for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Philadelphia Eagles. Bonnie Sloan played in four games at defensive tackle and only lasted one season, because of knee injuries, but he had made his mark at the age of 25. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder was a 10th-round draft pick out of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he was the first player to bench press 500 pounds. Sloan was an All-Ohio Valley Conference defensive tackle at the college. The City of Hendersonville, Tennessee honored him by declaring a Bonnie Sloan Day. After Sloan came defensive lineman Kenny Walker. He played college ball at Nebraska and played in 31 games for the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992. Seattle Seahawks running back Derrick Coleman entered the NFL in 2012, becoming the first deaf person to play offense in the league. Coleman was on the roster for the 2014 Super Bowl pitting Seattle against Denver.

Survey for Ages 18-30

Are you between the ages of 18-30 years old? The NAD developed a survey (available in ASL and English) for you to share input that will help us 1) identify areas to improve and 2) learn what our strengths are. #NADyouth

Lifespan Sued For Violating Deaf Rights

Sept. 12, 2017 – Providence, Rhode Island.  The National Association of the Deaf (NAD), the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, and Eisenberg & Baum, LLP filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other federal laws on September 6, 2017 against the Lifespan Corporation, Lifespan Physicians Group, and Rhode Island Hospital. This lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) and two long-time Rhode Island residents, Kathryn Arcana and Peggy Merhi. The lawsuit alleges that Lifespan Hospitals violated the rights of Ms. Arcana and Mrs. Merhi by not providing effective communication in the form of qualified on-site sign language interpreter services at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital. Ms. Arcana and Mrs. Merhi are deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary means of communication. The lawsuit also alleges that RIAD and its members have been negatively affected by the lack of communication access.

Ms. Arcana brought her young son to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the pediatric division of Rhode Island Hospital, on multiple occasions due to complications related to a chronic illness, including surgery for organ removal. At critical times, Hasbro failed to provide on-site interpreting services to facilitate communication between Ms. Arcana and hospital personnel, leaving her without an effective means to share and receive information regarding her sick child. Instead, Hasbro occasionally used a remote service known as Video Remote Interpreting, but the service was never effective.

Mrs. Merhi also went to Hasbro Children’s Hospital to seek services for a sick child. She also accompanied her late husband, who was also deaf and used ASL as his primary means of communication to another location, to Rhode Island Hospital on multiple occasions as he battled cancer. The hospitals were not consistent in providing sign language interpreter services, leaving Mrs. Merhi and her husband without an effective means of communicating with hospital personnel. As with Hasbro, Rhode Island Hospital occasionally used Video Remote Interpreting services. The service was rarely effective.

The Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) has joined the lawsuit to represent the interests of deaf and hard of hearing individuals across Rhode Island who have faced similar struggles. The RIAD has devoted many hours to advocating for improved access for its constituency of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Rhode Island, and seeks to ensure that hospitals provide in-person interpreters.

Todd Murano, acting President of the RIAD states, “On behalf of the Rhode Island Association of the Deaf, the members of this organization and the Deaf community have experienced tremendous stress and suffered frustration in receiving unclear and unequal communication access from in hospitals in Rhode Island.  Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, hospitals in Rhode Island have neglected Deaf patients by providing inadequate access to accommodations which infringe on Deaf individual’s basic human rights. We expect swift changes to communication access and infrastructure in Rhode Island.”

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The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is the nation’s premier civil rights organization of, by, and for, deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States. The NAD’s mission is to protect, preserve, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

The Rhode Island Disability Law Center (RIDLC), a federally funded not for profit law office, is Rhode Island’s Protection and Advocacy (P&A) System.  P&As provide legal advocacy regarding disability-related issues.  RIDLC’s mission is to assist individuals “…in their efforts to achieve full inclusion in Rhode Island….”   Full inclusion requires access to effective communication by health care providers.

Eisenberg & Baum, LLP is a New York-based law firm representing deaf and hard of hearing individuals in discrimination lawsuits nationwide. The Eisenberg & Baum, LLP Deaf Law Center has a team of professionals dedicated to promoting deaf rights and advancing policy changes across the country for the betterment of the deaf community.

The Rhode Island Association of the Deaf (RIAD) is a grassroots Deaf-advocacy organization in Rhode Island. Its mission is to advocate and facilitate changes in the quality of life for the Rhode Island Deaf Community by working to improve awareness, condition, and opportunities for its members in all aspects of life: civic, economic, social, academic, and recreational.


  • National Association of the Deaf; Caroline Jackson,, (301) 587-7466
  • Rhode Island Disability Law Center; Kate Bowden,, (401) 831-3150
  • Eisenberg & Baum, LLP; Andrew Rozynski,, (212) 353-8700


Position Announcement for NAD Youth Programs

Are you someone who is a dynamic, energetic, and creative individual? Then we’re looking for YOU to lead the NAD Youth Programs! With this position, the person would oversee all aspects of the Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) every summer. In addition, throughout the school year, this person promotes the Junior NAD (Jr. NAD) program at schools and programs for deaf students across the country. During the biennial NAD conference, this person is responsible for the exciting Youth Ambassador Program (YAP) and the thrilling College Bowl (CoBo) program.

Position Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts or related field.
  • At least three years of relevant professional or equivalent experience.
  • Experience in overseeing and managing youth-related events/programs.
  • Ability to multi-task and handle competing priorities and deadlines.
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively with diverse internal and external groups.
  • Ability to handle financial budget for various youth programs and events.
  • Familiarity with theories, principles, and practices common to the field of youth development and leadership.
  • Excellent communication (written and presentation) and organizational skills.
  • Fluency in American Sign Language (ASL), with knowledge of deaf culture and heritage.
  • Experience or interest in grant-writing and fundraising.

Position Duties

  • Oversees and manages Jr. NAD, Youth Leadership Camp, Youth Ambassador Program, and College Bowl programs and other related activities.
  • Hires and supervises youth programs staff and volunteers.
  • Supports youth committees and provides input.
  • Manages youth events and other related activities at biennial NAD conferences.
  • Ensures program policy in compliance for all youth programs and other activities.
  • Maintains youth programs database and webpages.
  • Works closely with Director of Communications to develop marketing materials and recruit writers for various publication use.
  • Researches youth trends and demographics to evaluate current programs and plan strategically for the future.
  • Develops and monitors annual youth programs budget.
  • Conducts fundraising activities and secures sponsorships for youth-related events.
  • Performs other duties as assigned.


  • Salary range: $40,000 – $60,000; salary will be commensurate with candidate’s experience, with benefits.
  • The successful candidate will perform the required duties described above at the Silver Spring, Maryland office of the NAD as well as at the Youth Leadership Camp site and other locations where required.
  • Please submit your cover letter, resume, list of three references, three writing samples, and any other relevant materials to with the subject “NAD Youth Programs Interest – [insert your last name]”.

APPLY BY: October 1, 5:00 PM EST

For the past eight years, the NAD was fortunate to have Allie Rice coordinating and directing our Youth Programs. As she wraps up her tenure at the NAD, she shares, “With the support of many of you, I am truly honored to have had the opportunity to lead and strengthen the NAD Youth Programs. It is a bittersweet feeling that I leave the NAD for new challenges. I am beyond grateful for a team of passionate individuals who work and engage in promoting positive youth development all over the nation. Ultimately, the new person will bring in new possibilities and make a lasting impact on deaf and hard of hearing youth. All in all, I will continue my commitment in pursuing the mission of the NAD.”

“The NAD will miss the energy and dedication that Allie brought to all of its essential youth programs,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, NAD CEO. “She has contributed to the continuing success of the Youth Leadership Camp, ensured the vitality of the Junior NAD program, expanded the College Bowl to include teams from other universities, and oversaw the transition from Miss Deaf America to the Youth Ambassador Program. We are grateful for her leadership over the past eight years and wish her much success in her new endeavors.”

Being Prepared for Disasters and Emergencies

Recent hurricanes have been devastating for many people leading to loss of lives and homes. Everyone should take these hurricanes and other disasters very seriously. It is important to be prepared.

Part of being prepared is knowing what to expect and where to get information when disasters and emergencies happen. This is especially important for deaf and hard of hearing people.

The NAD has a Public Policy Committee which has an Emergency Management Expert Group, and this expert group is led by Neil McDevitt. This video by Neil McDevitt explains the steps necessary to advocate for access for deaf and hard of hearing people, and what deaf and hard of hearing people need to do to be prepared. Please watch this important video and be ready for upcoming weather conditions.

Emergency Management position paper


Two New Staff Members Join the NAD!

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is pleased to announce the addition of two staff members that will join us at our headquarters office in Silver Spring, Maryland! We welcome Thinaja Nadarajah and Kriston Lee Pumphrey to the NAD. Beginning this summer, these two additional staff members will enhance the experience of the NAD’s front desk and overall operations at Headquarters.

Just before summer started, two great people have gone on to new opportunities and are no longer with the NAD office.  Violet Blake, the NAD Front Desk Receptionist from 2016-2017, left to travel North America. Jazzy Jones, the NAD Communication Specialist from 2014-2017, went on to work with Outreach programs at the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID). We miss Violet and Jazzy greatly and look forward to crossing paths with them again soon.

Thinaja is the NAD’s new Office Manager. She will oversee all Front Desk operations and ensure smooth operations at the NAD Headquarters. She will work closely with Kriston Lee as well as all staff members. Kriston Lee will be working part-time as the NAD Front Desk Receptionist. Kriston Lee will support Thinaja and ensure flawless communications between the Front Desk and the NAD.

Thinaja Nadarajah

Thinaja is a first-generation college graduate from Gallaudet University with Bachelor of Arts in Psychology along with two minors in Communication Studies and Deaf Studies. She expanded her paraprofessional experiences at Gallaudet University working with several organizations: Campus Activities as a front desk assistant; Youth Programs as a student ambassador; and at the NAD as an intern. Thinaja grew up in one of the most diversity cities, Toronto, Canada, with two deaf siblings. Her deaf parents migrated from Sri Lanka. Thinaja is a “Do-It-Yourself” junkie, a foodie, and a cat lover. She also enjoys traveling to new places to learn and experience unique cultures.


Kriston Lee Pumphrey

Kriston Lee is a DTV News Anchor, performing artist, deaf community organizer, and curator.  Kriston Lee graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2009 with a degree in business and communications. Since then, Kriston Lee co-founded Colorfest, a deaf LGBT leadership conference for college students hosted at Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Kriston Lee also co-founded a Washington, D.C. community-based ASL trivia fostering fellowship and knowledge of the world in ASL. Kriston Lee continues to immerse himself in various community related advocacy work, such as having assisted DAWN, a D.C. based non-profit organization that strives to end sexual assault and domestic violence within the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Welcome to the NAD family, Thinaja and Kriston Lee!


The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.