Deaf Awareness Week – 2016 (A White House Special!)

Day 2 of Deaf Awareness Week, we hope you’re doing your bit to help spread awareness of the deaf community and embrace the deaf culture. We are very excited to bring you this post from the office of the White House!

Leah Katz-Hernandez and Claudia Gordon are both Deaf and hold positions of high value in the White House. Not bad right?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that because they are Deaf, the hearing personnel may seek to simply keep them away from face-to-face contact due to fear of communication not going smoothly. Well, these blog posts are about influential Deaf people, so that wouldn’t make a very fascinating blog now, would it?


Leah Katz-Hernandez

Leah Katz-Hernandez is one of the first staff members visitors encounter upon arrival at the White House. She is known as the Receptionist of the United States and is the 1st ever Deaf Person to hold this position!

She communicates through American Sign Language (ASL), and her boss, the one and only Barrack Obama, once told a packed news conference that “her smiling face is one of the first things people see when they come into the White House”, not a bad compliment coming from the President!


Claudia Gordon

Now we have Claudia Gordon, a colleague of Leah Katz-Hernandez. She is the first African-American Deaf female attorney in the United States and currently works at the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She lost her hearing at the age of 8 and could not afford an education in her home country.  So her mother brought her to New York, where she went to a school for the deaf; and learned Sign Language for the first time.

The discrimination and lack of support she experienced in her home country inspired her to become a lawyer and fight for the rights of people with disabilities.


Both Katz-Hernandez & Gordon have praised the Obama administration for their progressive philosophy and values. And they are not the only deaf people who work in the White House!  Katz-Hernandez & Gordon are helping to create a better world for the deaf community and show us all that deaf people can succeed in any profession they put their minds to!