Signs Of Self

Independent Living Services for people who are Deaf, Hard-of-hearing or Deaf-Blind

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Deafness and Deafhood

Aloha State Association of the Deaf (ASAD) hawaii2
Aloha State Association of the Deaf, known as ASAD Hawai`i, is a nonprofit organization that aims to strive and meet its objectives in serving the deaf/hard of hearing people in the State of Hawai`i. ASAD sponsors cultural and social events for the Deaf community and publishes a bi-monthly newsletter.

Comprehensive Services Center for Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing and Deaf-Blind (CSC) hawaii2

The Comprehensive Service Center (CSC) is funded by the Hawai‘i State Legislature and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation through a contract with the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Center on Disability Studies (CDS).  The CSC offers a variety of educational classes, summer youth programs, and a one-stop referral service for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind. The CSC shares space with Signs of Self (SOS), an independent living agency for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, or Deaf-Blind.

Deafhood Foundation
Our Mission: The Deafhood Foundation is dedicated to achieving economic and social justice for all Deaf people. Our Vision: The Deafhood Foundation will provide financial, educational and social opportunities to end the economic exploitation of Deaf people. The Foundation aims to free the world from audism and recreate a society where everyone experiences full humanity and celebrates Sign Language.

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Deaf Services Section (DVR-DSS)hawaii2
Hawai`i VR Website: 
Vocational Rehabilitation is a state-federal program for individuals with disabilities who require assistance to prepare for, secure, retain or regain employment. Deaf Services Section staff are rehabilitation counselors whom specialize in job training and job placement for persons who are Deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind.

Hands and Voices, Hawai`i Chapter (provisional)hawaii2
Amanda Kaahanui, Parent 
National Website: 
Hands & Voices is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families and their children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as the professionals who serve them. We are a parent-driven, parent/professional collaborative group that is unbiased towards communication modes and methods. Our diverse membership includes those who are deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing impaired and their families who communicate orally, with signs, cue, and/or combined methods. We exist to help our children reach their highest potential.

Hawai`i School for the Deaf and the Blind (HSDB)hawaii2
The Hawai`i School for the Deaf and Blind is a public education facility that provides services to the islands' deaf, blind, and deaf-blind students. One of the main functions of HSDB is providing an ASL immersion program that follows the tenets of a bi-cultural, bi-lingual philosophy. Both, the ways of the hearing and the Deaf are respected and cherished here, along with the use of both languages, English and ASL. The end result of the program is to produce individuals who are confident participants in both, the Deaf and hearing worlds.

National Association of the Deaf
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 of America.  Established in 1880, the NAD was shaped 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. These beliefs remain true to this day, with American Sign Language as a core value.  The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more improving the lives of millions of deaf and hard of hearing Americans. The NAD also carries out its federal advocacy work through coalition efforts with specialized national deaf and hard of hearing organizations, as well as coalitions representing national cross-disability organizations. On the international front, the NAD represents the United States of America to the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), an international human rights organization.  Individual and organizational membership makes it possible for the NAD to ensure that the collective interests of the American deaf and hard of hearing community are seen and represented among our nation’s policy makers and opinion leaders at the federal level.  The NAD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by the generosity of individual and organizational donors, including corporations and foundations.


What is Deafhood?


Deafhood has two components:

  • It is a way of gathering together and framing what we already know of Deaf culture, life, politics etc.
  • The framing process itself reveals ways in which we can move beyond present Deaf cultural limitations resulting from the colonialism of Sign Language Peoples (SLPs).


The word Deafhood was first developed by Paddy Ladd in 1993. The concept was further developed through his doctoral dissertation on Deaf Culture in 1998. Ladd published a book on the subject in 2003, Understanding Deaf Culture - In Search of Deafhood. One of the book’s main aims is achieving Deaf unity.

Understanding the concept of colonization is an integral part of the Deafhood philosophy. The term Deafness, and others like it, are seen as arising from the colonization process. Hence there was a need to develop our own Deaf-centered term, Deafhood.

Deafhood acknowledges that ALL Deaf people embark on a journey towards deepening and refining their Deaf selves. Many are content to reside within the boundaries of existing Deaf cultures, yet some press on to stretch those boundaries.


  • the total sum of all positive meanings of the word Deaf ”past, present and future”
  • all the largest meanings of what Sign Language Peoples have been, are, and can become. Including:
    • all that Deaf people have created in this world,
    • all that they created which has been lost to sight (because of colonialism).
    • all that they might create in future
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