Profile of a New President
An Interview with Dan Arabie
“My dad taught me the value of a strong work ethic. You cannot be an effective leader without a strong work ethic. Linda Annala, another deaf-blind person who was well-known in Louisiana, also influenced me and encouraged me to give rather than to receive. She made many contributions to deaf-blind people in Louisiana, and encouraged me to do the same.”
Dan has carried this desire for service from Louisiana to AADB as AADB”s newest President. “I chose to run as President because I feel it is now time to make a contribution to deaf-blind people around the country as well as in Louisiana. I want everyone who is deaf-blind to have a good quality of life and I want to contribute to that.”
Dan, along with Vice President Tim Jackson, has established four goals as President. “Our most important goal is to establish open communication with AADB and our members.”
Another goal is to hold dependable national conferences every two years.“Deaf-blind people need an opportunity to meet and learn from each other. The conferences are a very rich experience for them. They lose a wealth of information if they don’t have a chance to talk with each other.”
Another ambitious goal for the Arabie-Jackson team is to work towards a national Support Service Provider (SSP) program. Dan said, “I was the ringleader in establishing SSP services in Louisiana and I can see how valuable SSPs are to deaf-blind people there now. They can meet other people. They can get out of the house and do things, instead of having to be lonely and frustrated at home. I want deaf-blind people in other areas to have the same advantages.”
Dan encourages every deaf-blind person to make friends with legislators and educate them on the need for more SSP services. “I became friends with the Louisiana legislators and was able to educate them, along with others in the deaf-blind community, about the need for SSPs. I would like to have a meeting or an awareness event with our legislators on Capitol Hill to make them aware of the needs for SSPs nationwide.
“A fourth goal is access to affordable, accessible technology. We want to make technology more accessible to all deaf-blind people, especially braille readers. They deserve to have the same access to information as people who can see.”
And Dan wants to continue helping deaf-blind people as a career. He has just begun his first year at Gallaudet University, where he is majoring in psychology. “I chose this major so I could understand and help deaf-blind people deal with their emotions and issues.”
Dan has strong roots in Louisiana. “I was born a Cajun and will die a Cajun.” He was born in Morgan City, near the Gulf of Mexico, and has spent all his life in Louisiana except for two years in Texas when he was very young. He is one of six children; he and another brother have Usher Syndrome, while his siblings are hearing. He now makes his home in Lafayette, where he has raised four daughters.
“My daughters are the joy of my life,” Dan said. “All four of them have graduated from college. One is a registered nurse and a certified interpreter. I will be a grandfather for the second time in November. I have a grandson now, and will soon have a granddaughter. I am really looking forward to that.”
Despite his very busy schedule, Dan still has time to have fun. He is a fan of the New Orleans Saints and the Louisiana State University Tigers, and enjoys other sports as well. He loves to go camping with his girlfriend, Annie. He also likes to spend time with his daughters and with deaf-blind friends. “My family is close-knit—both my own family and the deaf-blind community which is like my second family.”