"I am motivated by knowing that although progress is being made towards inclusion and access, there is still a great deal more work to be done. Also, mentoring youth and young adults with disabilities keeps me motivated. I have an innate desire to give back. It is uplifting when you are able to empower another and help someone discover a sense of self-worth and confidence in his or her abilities.”
- Claudia Gordon
At the age of eight, Claudia Gordon’s life suddenly changed overnight. She quickly lost her ability to hear and was taken out of school. In an interview, Gordon recalled that in Jamaica, deaf and disabled individuals were stigmatized. There, people would use terms like “dummy” and children even threw rocks at her. She quickly became isolated from society.
As a result, her family moved from Jamaica to the United States when she was eleven years old. In the U.S. she was enrolled at the Lexington School for the Deaf. During her time there, Gordon learned sign language and rose to the top of her class. Being at the Lexington School for Deaf, she discovered a sense of community with other students who are Deaf. With this, she realised that her deafness was not something that would hold her back. Instead, she allowed her deafness to shape her goals and her career.
By junior year of high school, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer. It was a dream come true when she graduated law school at American University Washington College of Law in 2000. Moreover, Gordon became the first deaf black American Woman to earn a Juris Doctor.
Later, she worked at the U.S. Department of Labor where she handled potential cases of discrimination by federal contractors. In 2013, Gordon was named Associate Director in the White House of Public Engagement where she worked directly between the Obama Administration and the disability community. During her time there, she served as an associate director of public engagement as she organized a temporary assignment with the White House Office of Public Engagement. Meanwhile, she served as the liaison to the disability community and advised on disability policies.
Claudia Gordon did not let her challenges derived from her community stop her from prospering as an individual. Notably, Gordon was the vice president of the National Black Deaf Advocates. Also, she associated with the National Coalition for Disability Rights. Today, she works at Sprint, a company with several features that allow people who are deaf to communicate.
Like Gordon, deaf and disabled people are often overlooked. It is important to celebrate every accomplishment to destigmatize society. Deaf people CAN achieve anything, they CAN inspire other, they CAN uplift others, and they CAN outshine every obstacle.
Overall, Gordon strives to enable others who are disabled to overcome challenges of their own so they can be successful as well. There is still more work to be done, Gordon continues to mentor disabled youth and advocates for deafness. By practicing and maintaining high standards of inclusion, openness and transparency the world will be able to operate better.
More information about Claudia Gordon:
Owning otherness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lMtaZ3uoNg
Claudia Gordon https://www.deafpeople.com/dp_of_month/Gordon.html
Tell me more https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaGSspTZY90