American Association of the Deaf-Blind

A New Beginning


Humble Advocate

Thursday, January 14, 2010

An Interview with Tim Jackson

Timothy Jackson

Timothy Jackson

by Elizabeth Spiers

"I am a humble person and I listen to people," Tim Jackson commented. "I believe in honest, open communication."

Tim is carrying out this belief in his work as Vice President for AADB. He and President Dan Arabie have developed four goals for deaf-blind people nationwide: a national SSP program, regular national conferences, better access to affordable technology, and open communication with members.

"I have been involved in advocacy work for a long time and when Dan Arabie invited me to be his Vice President, I felt that I could give my skills and expertise to AADB. For example, I have experience in parliamentary procedures. And I have an interest in political action and process."

Tim's enthusiasm for political action led him to his becoming involved with AADB. "I want to see deaf-blind people receive equal access in society. Technology is one way to do that. AADB and the deaf-blind community needs to be more up to date on technology."

Tim is particularly interested in access for deaf-blind users of video relay services. "Many deaf and deaf-blind people can have the same access to information as everyone else through VRS, with the right modifications."

But the modifications are essential. "I want to see all VRS be more accessible to deaf-blind users. We need interpreters to have the right skills, and to use the right clothing and backdrops. We also need to have communication facilitators as an option for fully deaf-blind VRS users so all of us can use VRS. Hard of hearing people with limited vision can also benefit from captions and signs on VRS. That would be very helpful to people who may have trouble seeing signs. If people have trouble with VRS, please let me know and I will do my best to follow up with VRS businesses."

Tim is also using his advocacy and leadership skills in South Dakota. He is very involved in the South Dakota deaf and deaf-blind communities. He is a board member of the South Dakota Association of the Deaf. A few years ago, he and a group of deaf leaders established Signs of Grace Deaf Church (SGDC) in Sioux Falls.

"I started a deaf ministry in 2002, a couple of years before SGDC began. Later on, I met with some deaf people with excellent leadership skills. We agreed that we wanted our own church with our own preachers. We wanted to be independent. We didn't want to depend on other people for funding or attend church services with interpreters. So we set up Signs of Grace Deaf Church. I am a deacon of that church and preach there occasionally. I also teach Bible classes and meet with the SGDC members and elders from time to time."

Tim has Usher 1, and has lived in South Dakota much of his life. He was born in Minnesota, but moved to South Dakota at age four when his father got a job there. He attended South Dakota School for the Deaf, from which he graduated in 1988. Later, he graduated from Gallaudet University in 1995 with a degree in accounting and computer information systems. "I took one semester off while I was at Gallaudet because I wanted to improve my weak reading skills. I worked very hard to improve these skills so I could pass the Gallaudet reading test. Once I passed the test, I went back to Gallaudet to complete my degree."

After graduation, Tim lived in Atlanta, GA for a while, but found a job in South Dakota and moved back there. He worked as a Database Analysis Specialist for six years before he was laid off from his job. He decided to take some time off to be a stay-at-home father and raise his son, who is now in kindergarten.

Tim set up a small woodworking business out of his home, where he makes lamps and other wooden products. Since his son is in school, he wants to do something different from his previous jobs. He is not sure what to do next as he is still figuring out what career he wants to pursue.

But Tim knows how to have fun too. He loves to tour historic sites such as Gettysburg, PA, Washington, DC and Williamsburg, VA. Recently, he went to Las Vegas and toured the Titanic exhibit there. He is a Civil War buff and likes to read books about the war. Tim's dream is to travel to the Holy Land someday. He also enjoys walking, working with media such as photography and video, and talking with people on videophone.

Tim has had to adjust to his demands at AADB, but has gotten off to a quick start. "It's a lot of work," he admitted. "I have a big responsibility and we have much to do. But I am patient, I enjoy this work, and I have an open heart. I will do my best to help AADB and the deaf-blind community as much as I can."

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