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About DSA

The mission of Deaf Seniors of America, Inc. is to enhance the quality of life for Deaf and hard of hearing senior citizens.​

Group photo of the DSA Board of Directors

DSA Board of Directors L-R: Past President Al Sonnenstrahl, President Phil Aiello, Vice President Char Parsley, Secretary Elaine Navratil, Board Members Lance Fischer, Robyn Miller, Adam Novsam, Jerry Nelson and Cathy Edler.

Board of Directors

The DSA Story

Embodying the Spirit of the Deaf Community

 

The story of Deaf Seniors of America, Inc. (DSA) began in 1992 with a vision for a statewide conference for Deaf senior citizens in Austin, Texas. The event garnered great interest from Deaf seniors across the nation and its subsequent transformation into a national organization dedicated to addressing the unique needs of Deaf seniors.

 

The Genesis of DSA

 

In 1992, Ralph White, a passionate advocate for the Deaf community, in collaboration with the Travis County Association of the Deaf in Austin, Texas, spearheaded the organization of a weekend conference for Deaf senior citizens. The gathering surpassed expectations, with 850 registrants. During this gathering, the concept of a national association for Deaf seniors emerged. White, recognizing the need for a unified voice for Deaf seniors, reached out to established senior organizations nationwide, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response.

 

Formation of A National Organization

 

Two years later, in 1994, the second gathering was held in Columbus, Ohio, featuring an engaging lineup of seminars, live performances by comedians, a talent show, and an appearance by Oscar-winning actress Louise Fletcher. This conference, held from July 22-24, 1994, resulted in the formation of the National Association of Deaf Senior Citizens (NADSC). Elected in 1992, Ralph White served as NADSC president until 2001, providing steadfast leadership and guidance to the organization.

 

In 1995, after the third gathering in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, subsequent conferences were held on a biennial basis during odd-numbered years.

 

Name Change and Continued Growth

 

The fourth conference, held in 1997 in Phoenix, Arizona, resulted in change of the organization's name from NADSC to Deaf Seniors of America, Inc. (DSA). This event, held in 1997, also marked the launch of New Horizons, the official DSA quarterly magazine. New Horizons, with its informative articles and engaging content, quickly became a valuable resource for Deaf seniors nationwide.

 

The fifth conference, held in 1999 in Phoenix, Arizona, saw the election of Gertrude Galloway as president; she served until 2007. Subsequent DSA conferences were held in Atlanta, Georgia; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; Orlando, Florida (Bob Cook served as president from 2007-2009); and Las Vegas Nevada (elected in 2009, James Potter served until 2013). The Las Vegas conference currently holds the record for the highest number of attendees, with a total of 2,334.

 

Overcoming Challenges and Embracing Opportunities

 

The unfortunate cancellation of the 2011 conference in Chicago, IL, due to unforeseen circumstances, posed a challenge to DSA's momentum. However, DSA demonstrated its resilience and determination by successfully hosting its 2013 conference at Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland which resulted in the election of Nancy Rarus as president; she served until 2019.

 

Silver Anniversary Celebration and Beyond

 

DSA celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017 in Houston, Texas, just a city away from the location of its very first conference, offering a nostalgic and meaningful opportunity to reflect on its remarkable journey and look forward to the future.

 

Next was the 2019 conference in Seattle, Washington, which saw the election of Alfred Sonnenstrahl as president; he served until 2023. The 2021 conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, DSA's dedication to serving Deaf seniors remained unwavering. The organization embraced virtual platforms to continue provision of valuable resources and support to its members.

 

Triumphant Return and New Leadership

 

The recently held 2023 DSA conference in Hollywood, FL marked a triumphant return to in-person gatherings. The gathering attracted 1,100 attendees, of which 555 utilized the Whova mobile app to send and receive an impressive 7,689 messages; they also uploaded 531 photographs. The conference, which resulted in the election of Phil Aiello as president, featured an array of engaging plenary and workshop sessions, pre-conference tours, exhibits, and the support of sponsors/partners.

 

The Legacy of DSA

 

DSA's journey to date is a testament to the power of community, resilience, and the unwavering pursuit of empowering Deaf seniors to thrive. The organization has played a pivotal role in addressing the unique needs of Deaf seniors, providing access to essential resources, advocacy, and opportunities for social connection. As DSA continues to evolve and grow, its commitment to empowering Deaf seniors remains steadfast, ensuring that they continue to live fulfilling and enriching lives.

Regional Representatives

DSA Regional Map

DSA is committed to ensuring that members have access to the resources they need to thrive. Our team of regional representatives who are available to work with you and answer any questions you may have.

 

Whether you are looking to join as an individual member or organizational affiliate, attend biennial national conferences, volunteer for specific events and projects, access our resources online, or contribute your ideas and suggestions—our representatives are here to assist in your involvement with DSA.

UPDATE — The DSA Board seeks to increase the number of representatives for each region from two to four. Interested in serving as a Regional Representative? If yes, contact DSA Board Member Adam Novsam who is coordinating this effort.

Region 1

Luisa Gasco Soboleski Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island

Marcia Zisman – Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC

Region 2

VACANT – Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin

VACANT – Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota

Region 3

Patricia "Trisha" Kidd – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee

VACANT – Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas and Puerto Rico

Region 4

John Taft – Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and Canada

Tom Mentkowski – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah

Organizational Bylaws

At the 2023 DSA Conference in Hollywood, FL, membership voted on several amendments to the organizational bylaws. These included updates to Articles I, IV, VIII, XV and XVI. The full bylaws are available for download in PDF and MS Word format.

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