Speaker 0 00:00:04 Hey, and welcome to free, willing with harden podcast on your host card and why call wheelchair warrior and disability advocate based in Atlanta, Georgia. On this podcast, we share stories from people with various disabilities and help to break down barriers for the disability community so that we can build allyship and a more inclusive world. If you like what you hear on the episode today, please rate, review and follow this podcast and share it with a friend. I'm giving a shout out to my friends that I access life. It is a mobile app that rates and reviews places on the built environment to break down barriers in transparency on the bathrooms, the interior, the parking, any time that you go into a new place, you can find the mobile app on Google pie and Apple app store use the referral code card in my name, C a R D E N when signing up Pierre and Paul was born in 1998 in Brazil, and grew up between Guyana and Wooster, Ohio as a child here was only first foreign origin and decided to put an emphasis on helping others and mastering the English language in high school gear solidified himself as the number one political speaker on Ohio and placed among the top 12 at the largest academic competition in the world here then accepted a speech scholarship to attend the number one ranked speech school in the nation Bradley university.
Speaker 0 00:01:25 After a year on the team, pier decided to turn his focus to academics and advocacy work here graduated early with his bachelor's in political science and was honored to be able to give the December, 2019 commencement speech. He is currently completing his masters in nonprofit leadership at Brad's recently here let a group of a couple thousand to clean up a target after the riots and suit in Minnesota. Along with this, here is the founder and CEO of a startup company. We hear you. The company is creating an application that turns American sign language into audible speech and is working to be backward compatible to turn speech and text into ASL text. Here is the most wonderful example of a strong ally for the disability community, where he listens, speaks, shows up and takes action to create a barrier free world for our community. You can find peer on Instagram at, we hear you ASL on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and on his personal Instagram here, Paul 15. I hope you enjoy the episode. It's an honor to be able to interview him tonight. Hey Peter, thanks so much for joining the podcast tonight. I'm excited to have you on because you are an ally of the disability community and not necessarily have a disability. So I'm excited to hear your story about how you are becoming and continue to be a strong ally of our community.
Speaker 1 00:03:00 Thank you so much for having me. It's my pleasure.
Speaker 0 00:03:03 Thanks. And talk to us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with helping out the disability committee.
Speaker 1 00:03:12 Absolutely. So my name is pier Paul. I was born in Brazil, but I grew up in Guyana and then my family moved to Ohio. So it's really one of those stereotypical immigrant stories where my parents wanted to create a better way of life for my family and I. So we moved to America and we battled a lot of different things. So poverty being a foreigner and a black male in the United States posed its own challenges. And from a young age, I decided that I wanted to be an advocate. So I decided being an advocate just meant to me utilizing my voice and my words, and then leading people to then take action in a positive manner. And so I've been doing that for a lot of my childhood going into middle school and then high school. I joined speech and debate. I advocated for plethora of different things through policy writing, through speaking at different competitions, but it really wasn't until I got to college that I realized the amount of opportunities that were out there and the amount of individuals who are at disadvantages because our society sometimes has a one track mind. So my advocacy work in terms of individuals with disabilities really came from my work on my project. We hear you a company I created that is working to create an application that turns American sign language in the audible speech, and then be backwards compatible to turn speech and text into American sign language.
Speaker 0 00:04:37 That's awesome. And I think it's important to all right. I think just hearing your story and that you went through some struggle with where you were raised and the environment that you lived at a young age and understanding, and seeing that society treats individuals who aren't as privileged differently and that allowed you to create and want to create a better world. And talk to us a little bit about we hear you.
Speaker 1 00:05:20 Yeah. Uh, that was beautifully stated. I think that's exactly it. Sometimes our society turns a blind eye or has negative perceptions based on people who are different based on the standards in the status quo that they have decided is their norm. But on, in terms of we hear you. So we hear you as a company and it's actually focused around accessibility and you and I had a conversation earlier in the week where I was explaining this, but for the listeners. So we start with this project that turns American sign language and the audible speech specifically not to be a deaf savior. So I'm not attempting in my company is not attempting to be a deaf savior because the deaf community and the hard of hearing community is too strong to need a deaf savior. I am just trying to serve. So as an ally, as somebody who cares about other people, my goals with we hear you was to create products that didn't put a price tag on the patrons who could use the accommodation and who should have the accommodation provided to them.
Speaker 1 00:06:20 So with that, the main, the heart of what we use to drive us, and we hear you as a quotation that I created and it's that diversity and inclusion should never be the afterthought of innovation. It should always be the foundation. So with that in mind, every single thing that we create every single time we meet with new people and we invent something new, we put our pride aside and we realize that our goal is inclusivity. Our goal is understanding our goal is serving a population and giving something that can make life easy for everybody. So with that in mind and keeps us grounded. And it keeps us focused on our goal for change
Speaker 0 00:07:02 As far as being a deaf savior. And I think you put it so eloquently and that people with disabilities often don't feel they need to be saved as in like we are a tragedy or we are a charity model. And that's kind of like these models of disability that I try and educate people on is that individuals who have disabilities, oftentimes they're either born with them. And so they look through that lens their entire life, and they don't know anything different. And so that is their normal, but then there's those that acquired disability later in life, whether that's through an accident or a preexisting condition that came on in later onset. And so again, I think they, uh, over time, once they've kind of accepted that they feel that they don't need that saving. And I like how you also said to put diversity and inclusion as the foundation, because it's so important that as we designed for accessibility, that we include that at the start. Because when we design with accessibility and inclusion in mind, we really are designing for all. Do you have anything to say about that?
Speaker 1 00:08:21 No, I could not agree. More jump jumping off of that. When we do keep diversity and inclusion at the forefront, then there's not this mad scramble after the company has been formed after the organization has been started to then figure out how to add these other elements. It's sad, but in our society, we treat individuals with different exceptionalities things that make them different. We treat them as like a footnote that we have to add at the bottom of the paper, when in actuality, their content should be put at the heart of the paper. It is used in the intro. It is used in the body and it is used in the conclusion so that when we have a finished paper, it's, well-rounded, it's completely, well-rounded, it's not just something that we sprinkled in at the end to look a certain way. It's something that we build our buildings off of. We build our companies off of, we build our families and our friends off of this idea of inclusivity and diversity and respecting it and appreciating it so that at the end of the day, it's never a concern companies. Don't have to make a mad scramble and feel as though they're having to do this. And individuals with these exceptionalities should never feel as a burden for being born in a specific way. That just makes them unique in their own, in their own light.
Speaker 0 00:09:39 Oh, wow. That is a beautiful metaphor. And I am going to use that in explaining why accessibility and disability inclusion should be always included. Is that thinking, thinking of that essay, disability inclusion is generally in the footnote or an afterthought, or just looked at as a checklist, but it needs to be fluid in the intro, in the body, in the footer and the header everywhere. And the Swede of that is that is so cool. I never really thought about it like that. I do notice how a lot of laws nowadays are coming out as, and I've seen this in Ontario, in California and other disability acts people and cities are realizing, Oh, crap, we need to Inforce X, Y, and Z to help people with disabilities and yet disability inclusion. And these acts, especially the Americans with disabilities act in the United States was created 30 years ago. And yet today we're still trying to come to terms with it and to include those with disabilities. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Speaker 1 00:10:53 Yeah. When it comes to the ADA, like you said, 30 years, it's not a whole lot of time, but you'd think it would be enough for us to really start acclimating to this and respecting it and utilizing it. But instead it's something that people find loopholes in and skate around pretty easily. And it's upsetting. It's very upsetting because what we end up seeing is that instead of providing accommodations so that others can feel comfortable in society, we force others to acclimate to the hearing world or the seeing world or the able-bodied world when an actual or the, it should just be a world that has inclusivity. So nobody's having to adapt for anything it's natural. Like you said, it was fluid. So I am interested to see what happens in the near future. As the ADA really gets a critical look at what they've attempted to do, what they are attempting to do. And I personally am happy to throw my writing ability in the rank, throw my voice in the rink to facilitate more change so that we're not seeing this mad scramble, like you're talking about with some States to now fix it, or now thinking, gosh, we've been letting this slide for too long. Now we need to do something. It seems like change is happening in our generation at this point in time. And I think if we lose the fire, it's going to be another 30, 60, a hundred years.
Speaker 0 00:12:18 And it is kind of sad to think that it takes a pandemic. It takes the racial injustices that we've seen in 2020 to kind of come to terms and to start making change. I know a lot of companies are all about diversity and inclusion right now. And I'm in this diversity and inclusion course at Cornell right now. And it's just been so amazing. You all, you and I are both in it. Duh, that's how we met. I totally spaced. Um, but I think what's been really fascinating to learn about the inclusion piece is the difference between representation in terms of numbers, which is okay. We need to check the boxes to have so many women on our board. So many people of color, so many people with disabilities, okay. We've checked off the percentage. That would be representation. That's not inclusion. Inclusion is when you have that sense of belongingness. And when you feel that your uniqueness and the values that you bring to the table are included and used as a resource in the organization.
Speaker 1 00:13:27 Yeah, no, I completely agree. What we're seeing now is reactivity it's reactivity because the proactivity was lacking in the beginning. So now there is this mad scramble and in this mad scramble, it's not even the beauty of inclusion that's happening. Like it's not the beauty of actually making people feel comfortable in the own space. It's filling numbers, fitting quotas, checking boxes, making it look good on paper. When in reality, the emotional aspect, the, the beauty of inclusion isn't happening. And you hope that it happens once these individuals have a place, but at the same time, it would be so much easier and so much more respectful to really address the problem as it is, as opposed to trying to look good for the media or look good for the people, neighboring cities, et cetera, et cetera.
Speaker 0 00:14:21 Hmm. What would you recommend to companies, especially to understand the importance of disability and inclusion and awareness
Speaker 1 00:14:33 In terms of what I would recommend to companies? There are a couple of things first and foremost, education it's so cliche and people get tired of hearing it, but education is so important if we don't understand where the injustices and what to individuals with disabilities in the early 19 hundreds and in the late 18 hundreds into the mid 19 hundreds, if we don't understand why the creation of the ADA was so vital to what we see today, if we don't understand the trials and tribulations that have been faced by people, then it makes it so much harder to actually serve those people. It makes it so much harder to help those people with an open mind and an open heart. So I think first and foremost, companies need to educate themselves on the history of what has happened and how individuals with disabilities have been treated after that active listening.
Speaker 1 00:15:29 We are so good at passive listening because it's a fast paced society. Technologically advanced, everything, you pull it up, you see it, you swipe, you go, but that's not active listening. When we passively listen, we listen just to not and make somebody feel good. But when you actively listen, you let what they say, infiltrate your mind, infiltrate your heart. And then you are not acting with the words that they gave you. You are not acting with the signs that they gave you. You are empowered by the beauty of what they were saying, because you weren't just listening to nod. You were listening to understand. And I think once those two things are put at the heart of what companies do it makes inclusivity and disability awareness, and it makes everything comes so much more together, more cohesively together.
Speaker 0 00:16:22 Hmm. Yeah. Active listening is a difficult thing to learn. And it's something that, you know, I'm definitely not perfect at, but always working to strive and be an active listener and to really listen empathically as well and not to listen, to respond, but to listen to, like you said, to understand and absorb and then respond and education. There is a lot that we've learned through the history. If you've ever watched the Netflix film, Crip camp and seeing that disability revolution and who came before us and what they had to experience, we learn from our mistakes. And we learn from the history and hope that we don't repeat it.
Speaker 1 00:17:19 Absolutely, absolutely. There's a quotation. I think it was Albert Einstein who said it, but he said, intelligence is the ability to entertain a thought without accepting it as your own. And I think too often we think that if we entertain a thought that might be foreign to us, like we are subjecting ourselves to a different mindset and like changing our morality's. But instead it's just engaging in a positive intellectual conversation where you can hear people out. And I think often people
Speaker 2 00:17:50 Let their biases and their stereotypes and their implicit bias about individuals with disabilities, prevent them from that active listening, like, like we were talking about. And you said something earlier that I was getting ready to say at some point. So I love that you said it a lot of times we listen just to respond. We're so ready to have our response crafted, have it like mapped out in a beautiful format. And we're like, okay, once they say this, I'm going to get them with this, or I'm going to say this, or I'm going to interject with this when it's like, no, it's, it really is okay to listen to what somebody has to say. And then be pleasantly surprised that you had to think about it a little bit longer and then respond more compassionately as opposed to reactively based on what you think they want to hear.
Speaker 0 00:18:39 Yeah, no doubt. And I, I do want to hear more about the, we hear you and the vision and where that is going, the mission and the vision for it. I did send the prototype video over to a few friends and their who, who are deaf by the way, and hard of hearing. And their first reaction was the, um, the video showed just signing letters and their response was, wouldn't it be just faster to just type it out on your iPhone, the order of the coffee?
Speaker 2 00:19:23 Yeah, no, that's an amazing question. And it's one that we have received a lot and our goal is to have our system giving full sign. So the reason we started with finger spelling is because that was a technological problem that people were having difficulty solving. So in getting that basis down, it then gives us kind of the foothold to move forward. Our thought process for why we kind of started with finger spelling and kind of releasing that to get it started is just the fact that it's still a more comfortable language. So when I spoke to individuals, friends of mine who are a part of the deaf community, it was just the, having the opportunity to do that if they so chose, as opposed to having to type out and show or having to talk to a friend and have them go give the order.
Speaker 2 00:20:11 So yeah, right now with our prototype, it's just doing finger spelling, which I'm extremely proud of my team for getting up and running because it has been difficult. It has been a feat, but as we speak right now, my team is working to get full sign recognition. So you can go up and sign large coffee without having to finger spell and it will pick it up and translate it. So, yeah, the prototype definitely is a rough version, but the goal that we have moving forward is a whole lot bigger and much more, is much less, less tone deaf to what is happening inside of the deaf community. Nice. And
Speaker 0 00:20:48 I know company like Starbucks already has baristas in a few locations that have employees that are trained to sign and are fluent in ASL. And so with the calm is the goal to help replace having to hire full-time employees or would it be in a combination?
Speaker 2 00:21:13 Great question goal absolutely is not to replace live signers. That is in no way what we're attempting to do. And we only want, we hear you to be in smaller, like small businesses that can't afford to have a live signer present or not every one of their individuals there knows sign language. So we hear you in terms of our sign language translator eventually should get rid of itself realistically. So we have this as an accommodation that will be utilized as American sign language is normalized more so, and then from there, we're going to release it onto the app store for people to use if they so choose to not use, if they don't want to, and then move forward with different aspects of we hear you. But no, we are in no way attempting to get past the need for live signers because realistically I think it was in 2019 American sign language was the third, most learned language in college, second to French and Spanish.
Speaker 2 00:22:17 And that's saying a whole lot. And I think just letting people see it, letting people know that it is okay to like see sign language normally in everyday society. It is okay to see somebody go up to the register and sign and have that fluid conversation. And I think that normalization is really what's going to be beneficial to the community. Um, and with that, we are so open to getting more constructive feedback and learning more from the deaf community because realistically my first, uh, the first two months I started this project two and a half years ago. So the first two months I spent about two months as a whole just reaching out to deaf institutions and trying to open up dialogue with the deaf community as a whole. And realistically I was met, not with the most friendly responses and it didn't upset me because I understand that.
Speaker 2 00:23:10 And when we looked through the history so many times individuals have tried to solve a problem or see a situation is like, I'm going to fix this. And it just ended up being detrimental to the community. So with that in mind, we hear you in terms of the sign language translator, we're open to changing gears. We're open to changing, stopping if that's what the community asks and that's what the community needs. But I do think once we get the full sign available, even if it's not something that's utilized in small businesses and being in the app store for free with that full capability will have benefits to any individual who wants to use it. Um, and luckily there was a student in Wooster high school, which is where I grew up out in Worcester, which is where I grew up, who reached out because he wants to work the cash register at his school and he's a deaf individual. And so we're actually creating a specific version of our, we hear your system to give to him so he can get familiar with, try it out and give us his comments and feedback and concerns with that technology available so that he can run the cash register without assistance, because he wants that independence. And if we're able to give that to him in any way, we absolutely are gonna exhaust all of our options to do so.
Speaker 0 00:24:32 Hmm. I love that idea of empowering them through the workplace accommodation and having that independence and freedom and being able to secure employment is something that is, has been a burden in the disability community, just because companies don't know how to support individuals with disabilities to the fullest or whether they don't have the money, even though it's illegal, it still happens. And so what has been the response from this employee?
Speaker 2 00:25:13 So it has just been, he is 16 years old. He's super young, he's just wide-eyed and excited about the world and doesn't want to miss out on any opportunities. And it's just the fact that the out happened. Cause I have a meeting with them tomorrow and it's just going to be getting him, the system learning from what he wants and what he needs and tailor, making the product to his needs. Because if we hear you turns into something where we literally have to craft a specific one for every individual, with a hearing exceptionality or who is deaf, then we'll do it. We will absolutely do it because one thing that I love is that the team that I have behind me, I'll tell you, they are not sticking by my side because I'm paying them well, I am broke as a joke. They're sticking by my side because they know my heart. They know my goals, they know my intentions and seeing somebody who is able to reach out and feel like we are giving them hope with what we're creating, makes all of the good days and all of the bad days, all of the good comments and all the bad comments, um, they make them all feel a little different in respects to the real change that we're seeing with real people.
Speaker 0 00:26:23 I know you mentioned earlier about the concerns from the deaf community, and I'd like to hear more about what those concerns were and what you've learned about yourself through working with the disability community.
Speaker 2 00:26:41 So realistically just being completely candid. So a lot of the responses I got, it was either surface level, no response at all, or people who didn't really believe that we were able to create what we've already created and what we continue to create. So within this week, cause we're launching on Saturday this week, I received more comments, both positive and negative than in the past two years with my attempted outreaches. And a lot of the comments were tailored towards whether or not I was trying to get rid of life centers, which absolutely not. We're going to make a statement on our website and at the opening, I'm going to make that clear. Additionally, it was asking about full-time capability, which is a great question. And just from the technological and development side, we are not there yet, but we are working to get there. We're not going to stop until we get there.
Speaker 2 00:27:33 And other concerns really were whether or not this product was needed. And that's all based on opinions, all based on perceptions. Some individuals that I spoke to were like, absolutely, we love this. Thank you. Others were like, we don't need this. We're fine with what we have. Thank you. And again, this might not be politically correct, but please correct me if I'm wrong here. I do see some similarities between the plight faced African-Americans in America and individuals with disabilities. And I think both of the plights that have been faced by both groups sometimes makes it hard to trust outside entities coming in. And that's what I get at when I'm saying a deaf savior, being a hearing savior for the deaf community or being the white savior for the black community. I see some parallels in the way that people respond to an attempt to help.
Speaker 2 00:28:31 And it's just made me realize that I have to recraft the way that I want to go about things, because I am still looking through the world in my lens. Yes, I've faced trials and tribulations in my own respects, but I haven't faced them in terms of disabilities. And that just kind of humbles me and makes me take a step back. And I listened so actively. And so critically to the things that people say, because I never want to be too prideful to change what I'm doing to serve another group of people, just because we worked long hours doing X, and now they want us to do Y that's not the case. That's what happens when you put diversity and inclusion at the forefront, you just change things. You make it better. You make it more beautiful. You get people to collaborate with you. So in this past week, I've really been challenged more with comments about why I'm doing this.
Speaker 2 00:29:27 What makes me have the right to do this? Whether or not this is even going to be beneficial. And with that, it's been okay, team. Let's figure it out. Let's answer these questions. Let's look critically at ourselves and decide what we're doing, what our motives are. And I think what's really been, just propelling me forward is the fact that my intentions are good. My intentions have always been good and I'm not doing this for any, any monetary gain or any like fame, X, Y, and Z. I'm doing this because I have the capability to do so. I reached out to individuals who asked for a product like this and were attempting to deliver something, to help the community. And with this launch, there's going to be some backlash. There's going to be some feedback and we're ready and excited to take it and make the product better.
Speaker 0 00:30:18 Yeah. The repercussions that can be faced when you are an outsider, you know, there's, there's no doubt about that, right? You, you are, you identify as non-disabled and you've also made it very clear that you are here to support because you see a problem and you want to help. And it's so easy. And I think this is true for any marginalized group. And really just mammals in general is that we see outside of our group as a threat. And so the biological response is fight or flight. You know, that is that primal brain. And people have to realize that they have to get past that primal brain and to really respond and reflect and to understand, use that Neo, that new brain that we have in our frontal cortex and really understand that it's coming from a place of compassion and empathy and that you're not a threat. And so how do you continue to, I guess you have to prove to yourself, to the disability community, that you're not a threat. How do you do that?
Speaker 2 00:31:32 Yeah. And it's been, it's been really interesting because one of my talents and one of my fortes that kind of propels me pretty well through life is my public speaking ability. I pride myself in my public speaking. I'm very deliberate with my words, my love studying rhetoric. And I've worked very hard on my ability to speak well. And it's been such a fun challenge to find new ways to articulate what I'm trying to say as somebody who does not completely know American sign language and as somebody who, um, is learning American sign language and is trying to help this population, not even necessarily look serve this population. And I think the way that I combat the fear that other individuals feel really is sitting down, having conversations, speaking as openly and candidly answering questions, I'm never afraid to get on record, having a conversation and have one with multiple people or one person.
Speaker 2 00:32:32 Because I think when the goal is understanding and the goal is respecting one another, I have nothing to worry. I have nothing to worry about because I don't go into conversations with this negative energy or this bad mentality about the situation. I know that my intentions are good. And as somebody who has faced trials and tribulations in my life and have seen people come into my life, pretending to try to help, and then not helping people who actually want to help that I shut out. It's a learning process. And I can't fault anybody who has their guard up, who has their blinders on, who is choosing to actively push me to the wayside until I prove myself until I make steps until I make more headway. And I think it's going to be follow through a lot of follow through. So it's one thing to say that we started with ASL letters and now we're moving towards words. It's another thing to get them, those words, because realistically it hasn't been easy, but knowing that it's hard, doesn't make it any less needed for the population. And I think that followed through is going to be what really sets us apart and what really helps me fit comfortably within the society without as much backlash, but it's all learning process. It has all a learning process.
Speaker 0 00:33:54 Yeah. That's what we've learned in this diversity and inclusion course at Cornell is, you know, how do you really build that psychological safety, which adds value to inclusion and just the driver of inclusion. And it's really building that trust. And how do you build trust is by not only listening and speaking about what you plan to do, but that follow through and then continuing to communicate that you are delivering and then to deliver and then follow up on the delivery and then to continue to request feedback and ask questions, you know, it's a continuous feedback loop. And, and yeah, another thing is how you mentioned just really empathic listening and sitting down with people, learning and, and hearing what they have to say. However, that method may be. So that is the power of allyship is really showing up, listening, speaking up and taking action. And I'm so thankful to have you along the way, what is the continued outlook? Like what's the timeline for, we hear you, anything that you can share with us.
Speaker 2 00:35:11 Yeah. So I can just say that this launch on Saturday is going to be a blast. It's going to be a great learning experience. And then from there I'm giving my team a break. And while that break is happening, we're going to be collecting data and putting it into our system and working it through to get words, as soon as possible, we hear you. Isn't just the sign language translator. We have two other phases that are pretty secretive now, but come between January and March, the prototype for our second invention should be released. And I'm super excited about that one. It also helps individuals a part of the disability community, but it goes beyond that as well. And just helps in the time of COVID. It helps different people based on where the life is right now. We can't get into too much detail, but we hear you has two other phases that I'm extremely excited about this first one.
Speaker 2 00:36:05 We hope to get it up and running for the population needed to get it. Those full words, release it onto the app store and let people choose to use it or not at their own discretion. And then the second invention is going to be something that is just going to make everyday life easier. For a lot of people, specifically individuals with disabilities. We spoke about that one a couple of weeks ago. I gave you a little inside scoop and then our final invention is actually tailored towards helping homeless individuals. And that one's been pretty secretive. Haven't spoken about that one much, but there is a lot coming up between January and July for us. And we're excited to see what happens moving forward.
Speaker 0 00:36:44 Yeah, it certainly sounds like yo, a small and mighty team there to support you and a lot of exciting things coming in the new year, which I think is truly incredible to see how when individuals are faced with adversity in 2020 was surely no exception. And to transform that into tangible change and to make the world a better place. And there's no time to do that when you're isolated in your home and have so much free, more free time on your hands. Um, which is really great. So, and I know you also mentioned that you're not there after the money and you want to turn this into a nonprofit. Is that something that you want to speak about as well?
Speaker 2 00:37:37 Yeah, it's just, my masters is finishing my master's in may and nonprofit business leadership, and I've just always loved working with nonprofits. I think the work that I'm doing really is so tailored behind the people that yes, money in our society is super beneficial and the money that we gained so far, all of it that we've won in different competitions or one from grant opportunities have all been funneled back into, we hear you and what we're attempting to do for the community. So when I think of, we hear you as a nonprofit, it really is just ensuring that our focus never strays away from helping the people. So our first event, our first fundraising event was actually not for our organization, but it was for deaf children in Ghana so that they can be able to focus on their education without having to worry about any monetary factors. And so we've been selling, we hear you masks and a hundred percent of those proceeds go to the deaf children in Ghana through signs of hope. And it's just been amazing to do work like that. And I think making our organization a nonprofit in the future is just going to help keep us on the straight and narrow with the work that we want to do.
Speaker 0 00:38:47 Do you already have your five Oh one C3 and how can, and if not, when do you want to finalize that so that individuals can contribute and also how can individuals contribute now to help support you?
Speaker 2 00:39:04 Absolutely. So once I finished my masters in may is when I'm going to really go headstrong into turning. We hear you into a nonprofit organization right now, we're using the B2B model just to gain some revenues so we can keep paying our developers and keep progressing forward with what we're doing. Then if people want to help or have any questions, we hear you asl.com and you can go to little contact page, send us an email, and we're always open to have conversations set up zooms. And these virtual times we will make anything work, anything happen. But yeah, that's really the best way to contact us. Social media is always fine too, but I think our website and our email is going to be the best means.
Speaker 0 00:39:46 Cool. Cool. And, um, any other, you mentioned the, I don't sorry, I forget the exact name, but you said the deaf children in Ghana, any other organizations that you want to highlight that people can learn more about deaf culture and their community?
Speaker 2 00:40:02 Yeah, so I think I just encourage individuals to, it sounds super simple, but going on Facebook and looking up silent suppers or deaf community and reading about what they do when they meet, seeing if they're open to having other people join those conversations, and then just going, going and having a conversation, taking an ASL class, finding out more about the history in your specific city or state when it comes to deaf culture and then seeing how, if there is any help needed, how you can help, how you can do something that transcends just the deaf community that goes into every facet of our community. Learn more about where you are, learn more about the disabilities that surround you learn about invisible disabilities and just figure out how you can be more aware and helpful if you ever need to be.
Speaker 0 00:40:55 You mentioned going and taking an ASL class. And in speaking to my friends who are deaf or hard of hearing, they usually push back on that. And their defense is that you're not going to learn sign language in an hour coursework because it is a full language like English or French or German. And so it's not really as beneficial to go and learn sign language. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Speaker 2 00:41:28 Yeah. So when I say ASL class, I guess I meant taking the full course loads. So for example, in my area, they offer at the beginning of class and then level one through five, and then you upgrade to another set of levels that you can take. So, yeah, set class. But I do think as a whole, I have heard a lot of things about people trying to learn ASL from YouTube videos or people just doing like a 30 minute thing a day and thinking that that's really gonna give them and fully encapsulate them inside of the culture. But yeah, I do think it's more beneficial to, if you're going to learn American sign language, dedicate the time and effort and energy into fully learning it. But at the same time, I never think there's going to be any harm and learning the simple pleasantries. Like, thank you, welcome. I'm sorry. Have a great day. Just little things like that. Just so if there is an individual who uses sign language and you just want to say something pleasant, you can just do so
Speaker 0 00:42:25 Sure. There's definitely no harm in doing that. Cause it's like, you know, I know a few things in Spanish and it does go a long way when you try and make a little bit of effort to say those simple pleasures. So I think that's important really in any language and culture, even if you're not fully fluent. Anything else that you want to share that you've learned along the way about the deaf community and culture?
Speaker 2 00:42:50 Um, I've learned that the deaf community and culture is strong and rich in their heritage. I've learned that, like I said earlier, that they don't need a hearing savior because there was so much strength there. Um, there's so much community, there's so much bonding, but like all marginalized groups, there are always going to be different, different concerns, different problems from the inside out and from the outside in. So it's been an amazing journey. I, in no way, no everything that I hoped to learn about the deaf community and whether or not we hear you in terms of our ASL translator ends up being something that is heavily utilized. I'm so happy of the journey that I've been able to go on with my team. I'm so happy for the individuals in the deaf community that have welcomed what we're trying to do with open arms and giving us constructive feedback. And for the individuals who definitely still aren't sold. I definitely encourage everybody to reach out, have a conversation. I really will never shy away from a good conversation, especially if it's one where I can learn. So if is always be open to learn something new from the people around you and everybody has a story, you just have to learn what theirs is.
Speaker 0 00:44:02 Thank you so much fear you're so eloquent and it shows that you have dedicated your life to communicating articulately. And that's such a skill and really allows you to be such an effective leader and allows you to communicate and listen and pathic glee when you can speak really well. So thank you.
Speaker 2 00:44:28 Thank you so much for having me. And I appreciate appreciate you using your voice and helping give me a platform just to speak, especially as an advocate. So I look forward to learning from you and learning so much more as I grow. Yes, the power of allyship is so strong and we are thankful. I have you. So I hope you have a great night. Thanks a lot. Thank you. You too.
Speaker 3 00:44:53 Thank you friends for listening. Please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions tune in next week for another disability topic.