Extraordinary People: Talila Lewis

Extraordinary People

A professor at RIT’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf is helping people all over the world get involved in deaf education.

Talila Lewis started a movement on Twitter – and is now hoping to bring about even more change.

If you search #deafed on Twitter, you can find volumes of information – videos, pictures, and articles all designed to teach and share knowledge through the Deaf community and beyond.

The hashtag started at RIT two years ago, thanks to Professor Talila Lewis, who challenged students to make a difference.   

“It was the most accessible Twitter chat I’ve seen, and even to this date there hasn’t been anything as accessible as that,” Lewis said. “I think that was the model of what we should be looking for.”

Lewis, or TL as called by students, has worked for years to bring about equality and deaf access to justice. Students got involved as part of a class project. 

“Who better to make something accessible, than the people who are affected themselves?” said Lewis.

Social media has become an important way for the deaf community to stay connected.

“I feel more engaged and connected to the world via social media. I am more cognizant of different issues about deaf equality, deaf access and what’s going on in society,” said Cortez Harris, a second year NTID student. “Accessing Twitter allows me to communicate my opinion and my perspectives and see others opinions and perspectives.”

Lewis is not only a professor, but also a lawyer and activist advocating for deaf equality – particularly among prison inmates. 

“When you consider all the information being left out that’s really important all of us – not just deaf community, but hearing people as well,” Lewis said. “We need to make changes to make sure society is just for everyone.”

Lewis has been recognized with numerous awards, but doesn’t like being in the spotlight. 

“What I want is change,” said Lewis. “I’d much rather trade in pats on the back and awards for justice.”

Harris says he hopes to be just like Lewis one day.  

“Absolutely, 100 percent extraordinary,” Harris said. “TL is the best. TL has taught us how to understand various issues in society. TL has taught us about justice and fairness and inequality.”

And TL is changing the world of learning for these students.

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