The National Young Women of Distinction honor is given by Girl Scouts of the USA to the top ten Girl Scout Gold Award recipients whose Take Action projects demonstrated outstanding leadership, had a measurable and sustainable impact, and addressed a local challenge related to a national and/or global issue. The girls and their projects will be showcased on the blog in advance of being honored at the 2014 Girl Scout Convention in Salt Lake City this October.
Hometown: Manorville, New York
Years of Girl Scouting: 14
No matter the number of times a test proctor of the English Language Arts regent exams reads a passage aloud, Anna could not hear them. Anna is deaf, and, like all other students in the state, for her the listening portion of the exam was mandatory. The only additional accommodations afforded to students like Anna were extended time and a third or fourth reading of the passage.
For Anna and other deaf students, these accommodations were not so accommodating after all. Unable to hear, they were unable to listen. As Anna says, it turned what was simply one part of her identity into a disability. Lip reading and sign language couldn’t fill the gap. There was a much larger problem in need of fixing. So Anna decided to be the one to take on the task.
How Anna Is Changing the World:
The challenge was how to make the information equally accessible to all students. And the solution, Anna found, was simple: Allow all deaf students to read the passage themselves.
With hundreds of emails, website submissions, and letters written, Anna got the attention of the state board of education, the governor’s office, and the senator’s office. It took three years of lobbying before a letter came from New York State Commissioner of Education John B. King Jr. affirming that the Test Access Accommodations Guidelines for students With Disabilities had been altered to provide written transcripts during the listening portion of the exam.
The joy Anna experienced completing her project came from knowing that she had prevented others from feeling that deafness is a barrier to success, a diploma, or realizing their dreams.
Anna will continue studying biotechnology and molecular bioscience at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Someday, she hopes to be a scientific researcher. Until then, she is a proud advocate! Girl Scouts will honor Anna and her fellow National Young Women of Distinction on Sunday, October 19 at our 2014 Girl Scout Convention. In the meantime, learn more about Anna’s Gold Award project and her excitement for our 53rd convention, including how to sign “Let’s Convention”!