What do you do when you're the parent of a profoundly deaf child seeking the best education and community possible? If you're Devorah Ben-Moshe, you and your family moves to Austin, Texas, where The Texas School for the Deaf offers some of the best education--and the best community--in the world. But you don't stop there--concerned with civic engagement and aware of the ways non-hearing people can be shut out of discussion about civic issues, you form a non-profit organization----Civication Inc--with a friend and then go out and apply for--and get-- a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge grant to start an online and TV show called ACCESS News, a monthly news and entertainment program for hearing-impaired youth.
Also funded by The Austin Community Foundation, which raised money to match the Knight funds, ACCESS News will have a home page hosted on Austin PBS station KLRU and be broadcast on that station The program, anchored by an ASL speaker, will bring national, state, and local news and information to a wide deaf audience at the same time it makes the hearing world aware of issues in deaf culture and news.
The goal, says Ben-Moshe, is to "find a place where where language is no longer a barrier, but a way to build a bridge to communicate different viewpoints. It's never been done before."
With the first episodes scheduled to start taping in March and an on-air date in April, Ben-Moshe and her business partner Ken Hurley are in high gear, recruiting team members, writing scripts and building alliances. Scheduled to produce twelve (12) thirty-minute shows each year using American Sign Language, with closed captions in English and Spanish and spoken English, Ben-Moshe is looking for sources for content. She says , "Each episode will include interviews with community members, civic leaders, journalists, news and policy makers, and present informative segments about civic education, public policy concerns,."
And to make that happen, she's putting out feelers all over the country--and on the web.
What's she hoping to find? The program is currently looking for topics for the first set of shows--– possible questions to answer may include:
- What is our representative democracy?
- What is the 4th Amendment? What is due process?
- What happens during an arrest?
Ben-Moshe and Hurley are writing scripts now, and excited about getting their show on the air in April.
"We're thrilled to be making this happen," she says. "It's going to be amazing,"