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National Deaf Awareness Week: Michelle Lewis recognized as the 2009 Deaf/Hard of Hearing leader for the State of Arizona

December, 23 2009

In honor of National Deaf Awareness Week, Hamilton Relay is pleased to recognize Michelle Lewis as the 2009 Deaf/Hard of Hearing leader for the State of Arizona.

Michelle Lewis is a founding member of Arizona's Association of Late-Deafened Adults group, ALDA-Sonora, established in 2008. She has been active in many capacities for ALDA-Sonora, including setting up the new group, planning and advertising activities, promoting membership, and finding locations and funding for CART, a service which provides verbatim translation of spoken words and sounds for meetings. This year she was elected as one of nine ALDA, Inc. national board members, taking the position of Region IV Director. This region covers all of the western United States. Her duties include answering emails from the public through the National ALDA Inc website regarding membership, questions concerning chapter locations, and resource information on topics such as obtaining hearing aids, working with Vocational Rehabilitation, finding Social Security information, and advocating for people with hearing loss. Since she has held this office, Michelle has acted as liaison for and has overseen the addition of the first ALDA group outside of the United States, an online group called ALDA-Asia Pacific. Due, in part, to her involvement and contributions, Arizonans have begun to gain national recognition as active ALDA members.

With the help of a non-profit organization called Handi-dogs, Michelle was awarded certification in and approval for self-training an assistive hearing dog. As such, she sets an example for and is a resource to other people with hearing loss who are interested in working with service animals.

After receiving Commission approval in mid 2006 for a four-year term position, Michelle is the only person with hearing loss to be appointed Commissioner on the City of Surprise Disability Advisory Commission (DAC). The DAC has an annual budget to apply towards ADA enhancements that go beyond federal requirements. One of the enhancements the Commission approved and paid for last year, was "looping" the new city hall in order to include more citizens with hearing loss. Since being appointed to the DAC, Michelle has recommended and received CART for each monthly meeting, which also benefits the general public. The City also now ensures American Sign Language interpreters at DAC meetings upon request.

In 2008, Michelle helped write and was a co-presenter in a televised and web broadcast "Deaf Awareness" class that was presented to City employees. The class can still be viewed on the City of Surprise website under the link, "Disability Awareness Series." It is also being used as an educational tool for businesses and residents who wish to learn more about deafness.

Additionally, Michelle has been an advocate for the provision of captioned movies at the one movie theatre in Surprise and helped reach out to those in the community who experience post-lingual hearing loss. Recently, she was recognized by the Deaf Community of Surprise for her efforts.

Michelle serves as an excellent role model and has accomplished much in her local and state regions, as well as expanding her horizons to represent Arizona in a national organization for people with hearing loss. She responds enthusiastically to requests for action, is circumspect in her actions and compassionate toward others; always striving to support and include people with hearing loss in organizations and activities that will contribute to their well-being.

Michelle has been involved in teaching Special Education and currently has a job working out of her home. She is a dedicated wife and is the proud mother of 3 year old son, Patrick. She is full of energy and selflessness and is passionate about empowering those who experience hearing loss.

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

About Hamilton Relay
Hamilton Relay offers a variety of services including Telecommunications Relay Services, Captioned Telephone (CapTel®), and Internet Relay. Hamilton provides telecommunications relay and/or CapTel services to 16 states, the District of Columbia, the Island of Saipan and the Virgin Islands. All services are available at

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