Maine's Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened will hold its 25th Annual Award Ceremony and Tea on Sept. 15, 2016, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Hall of Flags at the State House.


This year, the commission will present six awards in six categories to individuals who have contributed to deaf culture in Maine. Award recipients are:

Clifton F. Rodgers Award ~ Lifetime Achievement Award — Dr. Romy Spitz, University of Maine linguistics expert and a Maine DHHS consultant on deafness and non-traditional communication.

Ginny Hewes Award ~ Advocate for the Needs of the Deaf Community Award — Larissa J. Pelletier of the Maine Deaf Grassroots Movement.

Special Commendation Award — Duane Dufour

Promoting ASL, Deaf Culture and Deaf People AwardChristopher J. Walsh, Department of Linguistics, University of Southern Maine

Outstanding Citizenship AwardDarleen Hutchins, South Portland

Citizenship Youth Award — Brittany Foley

Maine Deaf Culture Festival

Catherine J. Lushman will give the keynote address titled "Role Models and People Who Taught Me".  Lushman was born in a small community called Grey River, Newfoundland. Deafness in her family is genetic. She attended Newfoundland School for the Deaf in St. John’s and she graduated in 1987. She has an undergraduate degree in Developmental Drama and Deaf Education from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and a master's degree in Deaf Education from Western Maryland College. She began her career as a drama teacher at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas. Catherine has taught preschool through third grade at the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since 1996. She currently resides in Maine with her partner Rob and their daughter Norah Jane.


In celebration of deaf culture, literature, art and folkore, and of the heritage of American Sign Language, the Governor's Office has designated the week of Sept. 18 through 24, 2016 as Deaf Culture Week.

The Maine Deaf Culture Festival is held during the week.