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WHEREAS, a combined loss of vision and hearing, a unique multisensory disability, is estimated to affect between 34,000 and 68,000 Virginians’ ability to live independently, travel freely, and communicate with others; and
WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for people who are Deaf-Blind such as social isolation and barriers to communications in result of the need to wear face masks and physically distance; and
WHEREAS, encouraging the full participation of Americans who are Deaf-Blind in our communities by promoting their education, employment, housing, and recreational options will maximize their opportunities for a productive life; and
WHEREAS, people who are Deaf-Blind attend college, participate in social activities, manage their everyday life, and actively engage in their communities through employment and civic activities; and
WHEREAS, it is highly appropriate and necessary to publicize the abilities and potential of our fellow residents and historical figures who are Deaf-Blind, such as Helen Keller, and recognize them as guiding examples of courage, hope, determination, and achievement; and
WHEREAS, in commemoration of the anniversary of the birth of Helen Keller on June 27, 1880, and at the request of Congress in 1984 through Joint Resolution 261, President Ronald Reagan issued the first proclamation designating the last week of June as Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week; and
WHEREAS, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, and the Virginia Deaf-Blind Project at Virginia Commonwealth University join the Helen Keller National Center in promoting awareness, understanding, and support for individuals who are Deaf-Blind;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize June 27 – July 3, 2021, as DEAF-BLIND AWARENESS WEEK in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.