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Let's Celebrate!

Events and Proclamations

  • Deaf History Month - April 2024

    The City of Lakeland Recognizes Deaf History Month for April of 2024

    On April 1, 2024, students from Lakeland High School’s Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing program attended the City Commission meeting at City Hall.  Nine students, along with their teachers and interpreters were present to accept the city’s proclamation for Deaf History Month as read by Mayor Bill Mutz.

    Lakeland High School Senior, Yabriel A. Tirado Ortiz, along with students from the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Department were present to accept the Proclamation.  Also present from Lakeland High School were Deaf educators Brinkley Roberts and Rosemary Groves, and the students’ ASL interpreters, Colleen Searson and Josh Miller.

    The following is an excerpt from Yabriel Tirado Ortiz, Class of 2024:     It is both a privilege and a responsibility to stand before you today as representative of the vibrant and resilient deaf culture. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to address you on this occasion, alongside esteemed colleagues, and friends, as we come together to recognize and celebrate Deaf Awareness Month in April. This serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing need to raise awareness and advocate for the rights of deaf individuals, particularly in areas such as accommodation and equal access. This offers us a platform to amplify the voices of those who too often find themselves marginalized or overlooked.

    However, as we gather here today, our souls are heavy with the memory of a dear friend and advocate who is no longer with us. Just recently, we lost EJ –who was a bright and courageous student whose passion was to make things better. Despite facing the challenges of her health problems and her disability, EJ showed strength and resilience, while surrounded by a loving supportive family and friends. Today, we come together to honor her memory; let us pledge to continue the work we all began, ensuring that all deaf individuals are afforded the respect, support, and opportunity they deserve. In doing so, we are not only honoring EJ’s memory, but also the countless individuals who have dedicated their lives to advancing the rights and dignity of the deaf community.

    If you would like to learn more about Polk County’s Public Schools Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Program, please visit the Polk County School Board's website: Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Program - Polk County Public Schools (polkschoolsfl.com)

    If you would like to visit the website for the National Association of the Deaf and learn more about the new dates for National Deaf History Month, please visit this link: NAD - National Deaf History Month Dates

    PDF version of the Proclamation for Deaf History Month - April 2024


  • 34th Anniversary of the ADA - July 26, 2024

    Persons in the photo from left to right are Shambria Campbell from USF-CARD; MaryBeth Rutledge from Central Florida Speech & Hearing; Darlene Sellars, Advocate for the Blind and visually impaired; Jenny Sykes, Lead Technical Information Specialist with the SEADA; Kristin Meador, ADA Specialist for the City of Lakeland; Mickie Brown, Co-Founder of Noah's Ark and Advocate for persons with intellectual disabilities; and Stephanie Madden, City Commissioner and Pro Tem Mayor.

    ADA Anniversary #ADA34 - Celebrate. Learn. Share.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. Throughout the year and on the ADA Anniversary (July 26), the ADA National Network recognizes this landmark event and the important work to promote equal opportunity for people with disabilities.

    Thank you to all members of our Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility.  As advocates and a collective group, it is important that we have opportunities to speak to accessibility and how much the ADA has meant for persons with disabilities.  The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all facilities that are open to the public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

    As we recognize this year’s anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is rewarding to see the ongoing work the City of Lakeland is doing to improve Accessibility for all.  The long-term goal is “Universal Access.”

    Universal Access is about planning and designing facilities, products and services to be accessible to the greatest number of people possible, regardless of ability. To assist the City in this goal, we are privileged to have on our Alliance members who have spent their lives, personally and professionally, advocating for individuals with disabilities.  We are grateful to have their guidance as we strive for equal access for all.

    If you would like to learn more about the Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility and the work the City is doing to improve Accessibility, contact the City’s ADA Specialist at (863) 834-8444.




  • White Cane Day - October 1, 2023

    On October 15th of each year, the National Federation of the Blind celebrates White Cane Awareness Day.  The white canes used by blind people are an essential tool that allows freedom of movement to travel from place to place such as work, school, and around communities.

    The National Federation of the Blind is continuously working toward securing full integration, equality, independence, acceptance, and respect for all blind Americans.  This advocacy work centers on issues related to education, employment, transportation, voting, and civil rights.  The National Federal of the Blind is the oldest and largest nationwide organization of blind Americans, providing expert advice to blind people, their families, agencies for the blind, corporations, and the government.

    Please keep in mind that when you see a person using a white cane, it is essentially an extension of their arms and hands to assess environmental situations and barriers.  The white cane helps blind persons avoid obstacles, find steps and curbs, locate and step over cracks or uneven sidewalks, find doorways, as well as getting into cars and others forms of transportation.  When you see a blind person using a white cane, please remember the cane is a tool.  These is no reason to shout out warnings or try to physically steer persons who are blind.  Please use the following link to learn more about rules of courtesy when working with persons who are blind.

    Links:  Courtesy Rules of Blindness | National Federation of the Blind (nfb.org)

    The City of Lakeland invites you to learn more about White Cane Awareness Day.  Please visit the website for the National Federation of the Blind at nfb@nfb.org or call them by dialing 410-659-9314.

    Please join the City of Lakeland in making a commitment to use appropriate safety measures when driving near an individual using a white cane or guide dog.

    Florida Statutes, Section 316.1301 - Whenever a pedestrian is crossing, or attempting to cross, a public street or highway, guided by a guide dog or carrying, in a raised or extended position, a cane or walking stick which is white in color, or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where the pedestrian is attempting to cross, shall bring his or her vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and, before proceeding, shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian.”

  • 50th Anniversary of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - September 26, 2023

    Section 504 at 50!

    The 50th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is recognized and celebrated on September 26, 2023.  History shows that before the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), there was Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  This act was signed into law to require access to programs and activities which are funded by federal agencies and to federal employment.  It is also important to note that over the years there have been many amendments to the Rehabilitation Act that strengthened the requirements for accessibility.  Particularly, Section 508 requires access to information and communication technology and its revised standards as updated on January 18, 2017, addresses technologies such as computers, websites, software, digital documents, and electronic kiosks.  These updated requirements ensure access to information and communication technology is compatible with the assistive technology used by people with disabilities.

    Office of Disability Employment Policy – Rehabilitation Act at 50


  • Deaf Awareness Month - September 2023

    Deaf Awareness Month 2023 and 11 Ways You Can Celebrate It:  Deaf Awareness Month 2023 (11 Ways You Can Celebrate It) - All Deaf

    September 25th – 29th, 2023 – International Week of Deaf People (last week of September) International Week of Deaf People 2023 - WFD (wfdeaf.org)

    September 23, 2023 – International Day of Sign Languages:  International Week of Deaf People 2023 - WFD (wfdeaf.org)

    American Sign Language Dictionary:  American Sign Language ASL Dictionary (signasl.org)

    Signing Savvy:  Signing Savvy | ASL Sign Language Video Dictionary