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First Deaf Canadian Parliamentarian to Speak At Gallaudet University Commencement

March 21, 2011
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Honorary degrees to be awarded to Gary Malkowski and Karen Peltz Strauss

Washington, DC [March 21, 2011] — Gallaudet President T. Alan Hurwitz announced today that Gary Malkowski will address the Class of 2011 and, along with Karen Peltz Strauss, be awarded an honorary degree at the university’s 142nd Commencement exercises on May 13, 2011.

Malkowski, a Canadian native and Gallaudet alumnus, is the first deaf person to serve in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Canada. Elected in 1990, much of his five-year term in office was devoted to improving the quality of life for deaf people. During his tenure several important laws that addressed the accessibility and educational needs of deaf and hard of hearing Canadians were passed.

After completing his education at Gallaudet in 1984, Malkowski returned to Canada to work as a vocational rehabilitation counselor with The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS), which since 1940 has provided that nation’s specialized agency serving culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing with invaluable services, products, and information. In his current position at CHS—Special Advisor to the President, Public Affairs—Malkowski continues to work for the educational and vocational rights of deaf and hard of hearing people.

“Gary Malkowski is proof that a deaf person can achieve great things if he or she is granted adequate communication access,” said Gallaudet President Hurwitz. “Especially for young deaf men and women, his record as an elected parliamentarian and devoted advocate for the rights of deaf and hard of hearing people is a source of great pride and inspiration.”

Honorary degree recipient Karen Peltz Strauss, deputy bureau chief for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, has an impressive track record as an advocate for the rights of individuals who are deaf and people with disabilities. Currently, she is responsible for overseeing the FCC’s efforts to ensure that the nation’s mandates for telecommunications access for people with disabilities are fully implemented.

Before assuming her current post at the FCC, Strauss co-founded the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology where she helped to spearhead passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which was signed into law this past October by President Obama. Strauss previously held the distinction of serving as Gallaudet’s Powrie V. Doctor Chair of Deaf Studies.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Karen Peltz Strauss over the past three decades, first at Gallaudet’s National Center for Law and Deafness, and then at the National Association of the Deaf and the Council of Organizational Representatives on National Issues Concerning People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, many laws requiring equal access to telecommunication services for people who are deaf and disabled have been enacted,” Hurwitz said. 

Gallaudet’s 142nd Commencement is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, May 13, 2011, in the University Field House. The event will also be broadcast live on the university’s website: www.gallaudet.edu

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world.

Contact: Catherine Murphy catherine.murphy@gallaudet.edu

21 March 2011

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