American Sign Language handshape spelling ASL   Watch the video above for an ASL translation of this letter

[Image Description: An embedded YouTube video. The thumbnail shows a light-skinned, feminine-presenting person with pulled-back blonde hair sitting in front of a camera and signing the word ‘Equity’. On the left in blue boxes are the title, ‘Equity Commitments’, and the HSDC logo.]

September 1, 2020

Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center (HSDC) commits to implementing anti-racist and anti-audist practices based on recommendations from the HSDC Equity Team. We understand the work for Racial & Social Justice is never done and there are always opportunities to do more. It is our responsibility to do all we can to support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, hard of hearing, and have speech diversity.

We will commence with these commitments immediately and begin with intentional actions, with the help of outside experts from the BIPOC and Deaf communities:

  1. With guidance from a professional Race, Equity, Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion (READI) consultant, we will seek feedback from BIPOC and Deaf community members in a culturally competent, anonymous way.
  2. Through listening, seeing, engaging and taking action, we will build a culture of trust within HSDC and the communities we serve.
  3. Pay Deaf, DeafBlind, hard of hearing, and BIPOC staff equitable wages.
  4. Train our leadership in management practices that promote equity, anti-racism, and anti-audism.
  5. Invest in internal equity work and require staff to use paid work time to practice anti-racism and anti-audism through learning and action, including Race, Equity, Accessibility, Diversity and Inclusion (READI) competency training. All HSDC staff will be involved in supporting anti-racist work.
  6. Provide READI training for new and existing board members. This will build on our work from this past February, when our board participated in a facilitated training on race and equity with Kevin Baker.
  7. Ensure that our current Deaf and BIPOC staff feel safe and supported, and hire more Deaf and BIPOC community members, acknowledging this is only one step to dismantling systemic racism and audism within our organization.
  8. Provide mental health support for staff through employee support services and reflective consultation.
  9. Review and change our recruitment, hiring, evaluations and retention practices for staff positions. Change board engagement processes for the Board of Directors; incorporate anti-bias tools, set benchmarks for racial diversity, and create meaningful shifts in culture, equity and action.
  10. Recognize that police violence disproportionately affects BIPOC people in our community and also many Deaf, hard of hearing and disabled people we employ and serve.
  11. Define and document our organizational values and uphold them unconditionally.

This moment in time feels different because it is different. To our former and current Deaf BIPOC staff, board, and volunteers: the HSDC Leadership Team and Board of Directors are deeply sorry for not seeing you and uplifting you. HSDC must keep Black Lives Matter and BIPOC at the forefront. We realize that fulfilling these commitments through mindful action will allow us to uphold our most recent BLM support statement and our learning in BLM movement discussion groups held internally at HSDC. This is awkward, painful, humbling and exhausting, and it has been a long time coming.

Our community is resilient, and being representative of the community we serve means our organization must do the hard work required; we must continually examine our biases and the ways in which we contribute to either perpetuating or dismantling systemic racism. We will not be the “white moderate” that Dr. King warned us about. It is with intention that we authentically weave this work into our current and future programming.

Lindsay Klarman
Executive Director
Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center (HSDC)

Leadership Team
Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center (HSDC)

To learn more about the reasons behind the commitments above, read our blog post, Why HSDC Must Become Anti-Racist (and How You Can, Too).

Read our letter in support of the Asian and Asian American community.