Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to begin a year-long celebration


MCDHH Logo. Courtesy of MCDHH

(WWLP) – Wednesday, the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) began its year-long celebration commemorating 35 years of being in service Wednesday July 21st.

The celebration is open to the public and will be held virtually. The kick off event was be pre-recorded and highlighted MCDHH’s history, feature special performances, and the presentations of related awards.

The Lifetime Achievement Award which honors those who have demonstrated commitment to the Deaf and hard of hearing community, was presented both to Terry Malcom, of Randolph, and Congetta Koetteritz of Worcester. Malcom was honored for her work as a Certified Deaf Interpreter in various fields including  Deaf Survivor Center which strides to help make a difference for those experiencing domestic violence. Koetteritz was recognized for her service as a customer service representative with the MCDHH where she exhibited monumental patience, attention to detail, and willingness to listen to each consumer at the center.

The Gail Sallop Interpreter Award, presented to Stephanie Hakulin, of Grafton and Diane Stains, of Berkley, is meant to honor interpreters who live up to the values of name sake Gail Sallop. Hakulin, in her work, demonstrated commitment to providing communication access at press conferences, support of families through her work at the Walden School, as well as additional advocacy work in separate organizations. Stains was recognized for her accomplishments with the Educational Interpreting community and proactive work during the pandemic to create resources for teaching, interpreting, and technical needs.

The BJ Wood Trailblazer Award was presented to Ivy Velez, of Marlborough for her over 30 years of service to the Deaf Community. Velez founded the Boston Latino Deaf Association in 1994 and the New England Latinos Deaf Association in 2018. In a statement about the event, Velez was described as being driven by an unending vision to achieve positive change for the Deaf and hard of hearing community.

Wednesday’s kick off to the year-long celebration featured remarks from Governor Baker, and Secretary Sudders, MCDHH Commissioner Opeoluwa “Ope” Sotonwa.

“MCDHH’s 35th anniversary is an important milestone in the history of our Commonwealth … Its creation was the result of the community advocating for a dedicated agency focused on Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened individuals, which represents 20 percent of the population who has some degree of hearing loss. As we take a moment to look back on MCDHH’s accomplishments, we can also celebrate the exciting work that lies ahead.”

Governor Charlie Baker

MCDHH offers service delivery, education, and advocacy on behalf of members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

The event started Wednesday, July 21 at 5:35 p.m.

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