ON HAND: State associations

This originally appeared in The Tactile Mind Weekly in Trudy’s ON HAND column.

Attendance has been disappointing at several state associations of the deaf conferences this year. A conference on Saturday in a state with one of the largest deaf populations had only 50 registered participants.

My (hearing) high school had a Junior Illinois Association of the Deaf chapter, and that’s how I came to really understand the importance of being involved. But guess how many of the 80-plus Jr. IAD members are involved with their state associations today?

One. Me.

Why aren’t people participating? The standard reason given by leaders seems to be, “Too many mainstreamed kids don’t know about or aren’t interested in deaf organizations.” Another common explanation is that people are busy doing their own things. Both reasons have merit, although I think we shouldn’t be quick to point fingers at mainstreaming because I don’t see too many deaf school graduates getting involved, either.

But I asked a few people why they weren’t members of their state associations or didn’t go to the conferences. One said, “Because nobody has asked me to join,” adding that he didn’t really know anyone involved with the association. Another said it was because she had tried to get involved, and felt rejected by the old-timers who thought she was too eager. Yet another said, “I got better things to do than deal with by-laws and boring workshops.”

Whatever the reasons are–we gotta do something.

We need to get off our arses and start figuring out a way to get people to realize the importance of being involved with state associations. I’m no expert on how we do this, but I know we have to do something.

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