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Deaf Entrepreneurship:

Darius L. Branner
4/9/2008

Business and Entrepreneurship in the Deaf Culture

Money is something that everyone wishes they had more of but knows that getting more is going to be difficult. After the Great Depression of the 1930’s and 1940’s, People began to realize that in case of another similar situation, they needed to have some money put away for a rainy day. It was noticed that the very few that did survive through the Great Depression financially, were the business owners of the time. Through this experience entrepreneurship was born. People began going into business for themselves and seeing money in a whole new way. Ethnic communities, gender based communities, and so on began to come together and carve out their space in the business world. Like every other community, the deaf community too began trying to increase their presence in he the business world. Today there are many aides for deaf and hard of hearing people who wish to successfully make their mark in the world of entrepreneurship and business ownership.

A major factor in the launching of deaf entrepreneurs into the business world is the NDBI (National Deaf Business Institute.) Their mission “is to advance entrepreneurship by the deaf through education, research and outreach. Through its programs, NDBI aims to help empower the deaf community by increasing the number of deaf-owned businesses and deaf professionals.” In trying to produce deaf business leaders, the NDBI provides the skills to start, manage, and grow a successful business or organization. They wish to even the playing field by “break the barriers down that society imposed” by giving their future business leaders the proper tools and aides to succeed. They serve people of all ages: youth, college students, and professionals. Not only do they instill a high entrepreneurial spirit, the instill confidence, independence, and communication skills through their program and by providing great role models who are already succeeding in their professions.

Another important factor in promoting deaf entrepreneurship is the business program at Gallaudet University. They offer courses in business management, business building, and entrepreneurship as well as a host of other classes related to these sub-topics. Entrepreneur classes usually go over the proper steps in building a successful business plan, while business building covers the steps needed to get ones business up and running properly, and business management provides the skills needed to keep the business going. In addition to Gallaudet University’s Business Program, they have formed an alliance with the National Deaf Business Institute to form the Merrill Lynch Entrepreneur Leadership Program to create another resource for inspiring deaf entrepreneurs.

Also, those interested in deaf entrepreneurship can promote their business and increase their networking power through a variety of trades, expos, and conventions. A very well known business convention in the deaf community is the World Federation of the Deaf Convention held 14 times a year. In 2007 there was a special interest group for deaf business ownership along with two presentations (“Microcredit Program for Deaf Women in Developing Countries: A Bottom Up Model” and “Delivering a Quality Deaf Employment Service”.) In addition to the conventions there are trading expos where vendors can come in and promote and advertise their business. This also increases networking among deaf business owners.
There are many resources out there for inspiring deaf entrepreneurs, as well as institutes to provide education in communication friendly environments. There are also networking opportunities like business trading expos that help build deaf business ownership. Institutes, conventions, and education providers are all sharing the same common goal of increases deaf business ownership and the deaf community’s purchasing power.

Sources for this article:

National Deaf Business Institute:  www.ndbi.org
http://deafness.about.com/cs/deafhohproducts/a/deafhohbusiness.htm
www.deafnation.com

 


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