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National Deaf Awareness Week: Frank Nemshick, Jr. recognized as the 2009 Deaf/Hard of Hearing leader for the State of Pennsylvania

December, 23 2009

In honor of National Deaf Awareness Week, Hamilton Relay is pleased to recognize Frank Nemshick, Jr. as the 2009 Deaf/Hard of Hearing leader for the State of Pennsylvania.

Frank Nemshick, Jr. is a dedicated husband, father and grandfather whose advocacy and dynamic involvement within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities has made an impact in improving the quality of life and education of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.

Frank became deaf at the age of eight due to spinal meningitis. Throughout the years, he has generously volunteered his time and talents in advocating and seeking out solutions for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

Frank was a member of the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf (PSAD) for 35 years where he was on the Board of Managers and served in the roles of Secretary and Legislative Representative. He was also involved in the Harrisburg Chapter of PSAD for over 35 years as an officer and active member. In the early 1990's, Frank served as treasurer and board member for the Center for Independent Living in Harrisburg, and has assumed several positions within the Greater Harrisburg Association of the Deaf.

Frank was a key player in creating the position of State Coordinator for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services within the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. He served on the Vocational Rehabilitation Advisory Committee for Persons who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and in 1968, was asked to obtain authorization from the PA Secretary of Education to "legalize" the use of sign language throughout schools in Pennsylvania which enrolled children who were deaf and hard of hearing. Frank succeeded in this mission and from that point forward, the use of sign language in schools became "legal." Frank also served on a committee which developed sign language proficiency requirements for Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and created a unique civil service position available to them. As a result of Frank's efforts, the quality of Vocational Rehabilitation services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing greatly improved.

On behalf of PSAD, Frank spent countless hours lobbying and writing numerous legislative bills over a period of 10 years which culminated in the establishment of the Pennsylvania Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He was a legislative liaison and member of advisory committees to the Pennsylvania Departments of Education, Labor, and Public Welfare focusing on the education, employment, and mental health of Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons.

Frank served as a board member for the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in the 1980's, and in 2002, resumed his role as a member of the Board of Trustees. He also is a current member of the Advisory Board to the Office of Ministry with People with Disabilities of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg.

The list of organizations and leadership roles that Frank has participated in over the years is extensive. He is a lifetime advocate and leader and has passion for improving education for children who are deaf and hard of hearing and for creating access to effective mental health services for individuals of PA who are deaf. Frank and his wife, Nancy, have four children and eight grandchildren. Frank retired in December 1994, after working 38 years as a Statistician at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

This leadership recognition has been brought to you by Hamilton Relay.

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