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Lydia L. Callis
Lydia Callis is a sign language interpreter, community educator and advocate for equal access. Lydia gained national attention for her interpreting work alongside Mayor Bloomberg and New York City officials during Hurricane Sandy. She works to raise awareness regarding social issues, and is actively involved in public policy reform. Lydia is motivated by connecting people, preserving Deaf culture and empowering individuals to pursue their dreams without limitation.

Entries by Lydia L. Callis

How to Say Happy Holidays in ASL

(0) Comments | Posted December 22, 2014 | 4:02 PM

The holiday season is a time for family and friends. It is a time to bring joy to the people you know, and spread cheer to the strangers you meet.

There are an estimated half million people in the United States who use American Sign Language as their primary...

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Bridging the Communication Gap in Your Own Family

(0) Comments | Posted November 26, 2014 | 3:30 PM


This holiday season, try to imagine what it would be like if no one sitting around the dinner table took any interest in getting to know you. What if no one in your family asked about your life, or seemed to care how...

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How the Criminal Justice System Fails the Deaf Community

(1) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 12:30 PM


Imagine a situation where you are accused of a crime -- perhaps a crime you did not commit, or maybe even a crime you were the victim of. The arresting officers use a different language; you're unable to communicate what happened before...

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Deaf Interpreter Goes Viral

(2) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 4:00 PM


Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the citizens of New York to discuss the city's first confirmed case of Ebola. During the press conference the mayor's ASL interpreter, Jonathan Lamberton, gained a bit of attention on the Internet. Most...

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Hearing the Voice of the Deaf Community

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 4:33 PM

Often, people ask me "what is going on?" with deaf culture. More than ever, we are seeing deaf individuals on TV, in the news, and other mainstream sources.

For thousands of years, deaf people were silent members of society, sometimes denied...

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Working with a Sign Language Interpreter: The Dos and Don'ts

(5) Comments | Posted October 1, 2014 | 4:06 PM


If you don't regularly work with sign language interpreters, you might not know that there are certain rules and expectations. To get the most out of having an ASL interpreter present, it's a good idea to educate yourself about what exactly an interpreter...

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Superheroes Who Are Deaf and the Power of Diversity

(1) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 12:35 PM


There are many types of superpower -- ranging from super strength to mind control. With such a wealth of fictional capabilities available, why should superheroes be limited by their ability to hear?

Deaf people can do everything hearing people can do, they...

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Deaf Rights: What You Need to Know

(4) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 11:57 AM

Working in the deaf community, I've noticed a great deal of confusion surrounding the legal rights of the deaf. Both deaf and hearing individuals have difficulty understanding what accommodations deaf people are entitled to, and how exactly those needs get met. I recently had a chance to discuss these important...

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Deafness Is Not One-Size-Fits-All

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 7:28 PM

The pediatrician just informed you that your child is profoundly deaf. What is deafness like? How does deafness impact a person's life? What will you do now? Your answers to these questions will depend on personal experience. If you have connections to deaf culture, you may feel very differently than someone...

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How Do I Know What Interpreting Agency to Work For?

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 6:55 PM

Last year, audiences watched in disbelief as the South African sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial service earned the nickname "the fake interpreter." Insulted, but not entirely surprised, the global deaf community used this public example to bring attention to an unfortunately common problem. The agencies which...

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Can Digital Devices Replace Interpreters?

(3) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 12:11 PM

While walking the streets of New York, nearly every person I see is staring down at a screen, fully engaged with a digital device. Through technology, our world has become incredibly connected; yet disconnected at the same time. There is comfort in being able to communicate without regard to time...

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Inclusion for All

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 3:44 PM

New York City has so many incredible Summer street festivals, art exhibits and cultural events to enjoy. Now, imagine how many shows you would go to if you had to contact the event organizers weeks in advance, explain that you need special accommodations and possibly even explain how to secure...

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Creating Deaf Accessibility in the Workplace

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 4:34 PM

When interviewing for a job, you only get one chance at a good first impression. You try to wear the right clothes, mentally prepare, and hope you have all the right answers. But what if none of that mattered? What if you didn't get the job because of the color...

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Building Communication With a Deaf Child

(0) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 1:08 PM

Picture this: You are a little kid growing up, constantly discovering incredible new things about the world. Now imagine being surrounded every day by people who do not talk to you, tell you stories or answer your millions of questions. Your own parents and siblings seem to avoid you. They...

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ASL Goes Viral

(1) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 8:09 PM

Last week, Jimmy Kimmel hosted a "sign language rap battle" where hip-hop interpreters Holly Maniatty, Amber Galloway, and deaf entertainer Jo Rose Benfield each delivered their live interpretation of a Wiz Khalifa song. The video has nearly a million views on YouTube and was featured on many prominent...

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Deaf Culture in Hollywood

(6) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 1:00 PM

Think about the last five movies you saw. Were there any deaf individuals in them? When was the last time you saw a deaf weather person delivering the forecast? It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of Americans live with some form of hearing loss, yet deaf and hard of...

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When Will the Oppression Stop?

(0) Comments | Posted March 4, 2014 | 11:46 AM

Imagine a police officer suddenly approaches and grabs you. This official does not speak the same language as you and, as you try to communicate -- to find out what the heck is going on -- the officer becomes increasingly aggressive. How would you feel? Scared? Isolated? Confused? Powerless?


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Equality Equals Qualified Interpreters

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 12:39 PM

Did you know that until the 1960s, American Sign Language use was discouraged among deaf students? Educational leaders, most of whom were not deaf, thought deaf people could assimilate to a hearing lifestyle by learning to speak English and lip read. These methods proved challenging and largely ineffective. Young deaf...

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The Deaf Community Demands More

(1) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 7:27 PM

The "fake" sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service developed into a surprising headline story. Beyond the scandal, however, emerged a remarkable tale of advocacy in the digital age. Throughout the event, members of South Africa's deaf community used social media to vent their frustrations regarding the inadequate interpreter and, in...

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