Deaf Legal Advocacy Worldwide is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides scholarships for deaf leaders to attend law school and become lawyers who advocate for the human rights of deaf people. We support the legal training of deaf leaders so they can advocate within their countries for the implementation of laws that guarantee the human rights recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Despite the CRPD’s broad recognition of the human rights of people with disabilities, deaf people continue to experience significant discrimination stemming from prejudice, the lack of education, limited employment opportunities, and the limited availability of accommodations such as sign language interpreters and captioning.
The marginalization of the deaf community means that it lacks the political and cultural capital necessary to navigate the legal system to vindicate the human rights of deaf people. In most countries, deaf people are unable to find lawyers to advocate for their rights. They struggle to communicate with lawyers who do not know sign language and are unfamiliar with deaf culture. In most countries there are no deaf lawyers. Consequently, many deaf communities lack the tools to navigate a political and legal system to advocate for their human rights.
We provide scholarships for deaf leaders to become lawyers so they can use legal expertise to translate broad notions of equal access into the legal language necessary to include deaf people in society. These deaf lawyers ensure the political participation of deaf people in the political and legal process necessary to realize the promise of the CRPD.
Michael Steven Stein is the Executive Director of Deaf Legal Advocacy Worldwide. Mr. Stein, who is deaf, does disability advocacy work with the Deaf communities in Chile and Indonesia. He is also a law partner with the firm Stein & Vargas, LLP which advocates for the rights of people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Bakar Ali holds a Master’s in Public Administration in International Policy and Management from New York University. Mr. Ali, who is deaf, works at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Center on International Educational Outreach as a Senior Project Associate. He came to the United States from Somalia, where he founded the Somalia National Association of the Deaf.
Leticia Arellano works at Gallaudet University where she engages in sign language research and evaluation and serves as an advisor for the Latinx Student Union. Ms. Arellano, who is Deaf, has consulted on international disability issues, particularly with the Deaf community in Mexico where she was born.
Keith Doane is a Deaf advocate working towards his Masters of Public Administration at Gallaudet University. He serves as a communications advisor for the Global Deaf Aid Foundation.
Siavosh Hedayati works at the District of Columbia’s Department of Disability Services/Rehabilitation Services Administration as a Provider Resource Specialist and Contract Administrator. Mr. Hedayati, who is Deaf, came to the United States from Iran at the age of 14.
Susan Plum is the founding director of the Skadden Fellowships and the President of the Stella and Charles Guttman Foundation. She also serves on the Selection Committee of the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship and is a member of the International Advisory Council of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative and the Harvard Law School Venture Fund Advisory Group.
Shazia Siddiqi is a Deaf doctor who earned her medical degree from St. George’s University School of Medicine in Grenada and Master’s in Public Health from Dartmouth College. She is the Executive Director for DAWN, which assists Deaf survivors of domestic violence in greater Washington, DC metropolitan area. Dr. Siddiqi consults on disability issues with Deaf communities in Pakistan and Indonesia.
Concepción, Chile — Deaf Legal Advocacy Worldwide Executive Director Michael Steven Stein gives an advocacy workshop for the deaf community in Concepción on the human rights of deaf people.