AUGUSTA, Maine — In celebration of deaf culture and the heritage of American Sign Language and Deaf literature, art and folklore, Gov. Paul R. LePage recently issued a proclamation designating Sept. 23-29 as Deaf Culture Week.

The Commission for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Late Deafened will hold its 21st annual Award Ceremony and Tea, 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, in the Hall of Flags at the State House. Awards will be presented to individuals who have contributed to Deaf Culture in Maine. They are:

  • Alice Crandall Johnson, Augusta, Clifton F. Rodgers Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • Nancy A. Melanson, Augusta, Advocate for the Needs of the Deaf, Ginny Hewes Award.
  • Mike Cousins, Westbrook, and Lt. Janine Roberts of the Portland Police Department, Special Commendation Award.
  • Laurel J. Kelly, Dixmont, and Paula E. Matlins, Bangor, Promoting ASL, Deaf Culture and Deaf People Award.
  • Alice Tuck, Portland, Outstanding Citizenship Award.
  • Emmaleigh Hardy, Portland, Citizenship Youth Award.

The keynote speaker will be Sammy Hargis, last year’s recipient of the Promoting ASL, Deaf Culture and Deaf People Award. He is an instructor of American Sign Language and a retired teacher from the Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

For information about hiring people with disabilities or identifying job training resources for people with disabilities, visit a local CareerCenter, call 888-457-8883 (TTY users call Maine Relay 711) or visit