Deaf Photographer in Newspaper Industry – Say What’s blog

Deaf Photographer in Newspaper Industry

Appeal-Democrat Editor Len La Barth came by my desk last week when I was being frustrated with the Video Workshop mentioned in a previous post “Words???” He wanted to show me an article he found in the Editor & Publisher publication (original article available here, printed May 17, 2007), about a deaf photographer at the New Era newspaper who helped win three awards for his newspaper. My mood immediately brightened.

I enjoy reading about deaf people who are recognized in their career fields. Andy Blackburn, the deaf photographer in the article, is a graduate of Gallaudet University and employed full-time by New Era. The overall theme in the article was about adaption and perseverance. Co-workers adjusted to a blind copy layout editor and a deaf photographer, and the men worked hard in their jobs. It took Blackburn 5 years to break into the photography field because of anti-deaf prejudice (audism). His secret turns out to be determination; he’s not afraid to approach people in his work field. A positive attitude, determination and ability to adapt to any situation is a fact of life for many deaf people who want to succeed.

For example, it took me almost 8 months before I finally got my first career job after college in New York. I was declined many interviews for a graphics designer or illustrator job when it was discovered I was deaf. The one who finally interviewed me, was a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology and familiar with deaf people. He hired me based on my resume and became my boss along with three other graphic designers. We communicated primarily via intra-net instant messaging, e-mails, a few notes and some “survival” signs. My lip reading and speech aren’t that great, but we got along just fine. I applied the same communication skills with some upgrades to modern communication technology when I moved to Yuba City and became employed with Appeal-Democrat.

I want to close with helpful links for hearing people on how to communicate with a deaf/hard of hearing person.

Tips for Communicating with Deaf & Hard-of-Hearing People, PDF link.

Tips for Communication With Deaf Employees through an Interpreter, Web site link.

Blackburn is right about something at the end of the article — his success helped the image of the deaf in his local workplace and community. When a deaf person works with hearing counterparts and they have a positive experience, they influence the way people view the deaf. In the words of Deaf people: “Do not give up.”


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