News + Insights

Disability Pride Month Spotlight

July 1, 2023

Meet Tom Dean!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m a Cincinnati native. I was born in Cincinnati and grew up in the small town of Bethel, Ohio in Clermont County. I’ve had hearing loss in both ears pretty much my whole life. I have no hearing at all in my left ear and have significant loss in my right ear too. I use a hearing aid in my right ear that allows me to maximize the hearing I do have in my right ear. I do use sign language a little bit and make use of lipreading. I have a girlfriend, Deborah, who is Deaf and she is a fluent signer. I’m becoming a better signer with Deborah’s help. Deborah is a right-below-the-knee amputee and uses a prosthetic pin lock leg. I also have a younger sister, Katie, who has hearing loss in both ears too. So, my life has been touched by disability in a variety of ways.

Why do you work for Easterseals Redwood?: I’ve been with Easterseals Redwood since November 2022 and for me it was a case of the right job at the right time. I’ve worked a variety of jobs in the disability field. For college I moved away and went to the University of New Orleans where I got a Master’s degree in Deaf Education and so I worked a number of years in Louisiana and Ohio as a certified teacher of the Deaf and hard of hearing. I’ve also worked as a Service and Support Administrator (SSA) for the Butler County (Ohio) Board of Developmental Disabilities. Today I work as a Job Coach with Easterseals Redwood. I really like working as a Job Coach because I can pull from some of my skills as a teacher when I’m training the individuals I work with. I can also guide individuals I work with on how to navigate the County Board of DD system from my experience working as an SSA. The job of Job Coach is a great fit for me.

What Does Disability Pride Month Mean to You?: It’s interesting being born in the classification of a GenXer I’ve seen a pretty good historical cross section of disability and disability awareness. When I was young and growing up I had an uncle on my mother’s side who had significant cerebral palsy. My uncle grew up in the 1950s in an Appalachian part of Virginia. My uncle never went to school and depended on close family to take care of him his whole life. Back then there were no real Medicaid services available to my uncle and I often wonder how his life would have been different if there were more services available to him. Today things are different and thankfully more services are available. When I was a college student at Wright State in 1990 I remember President George Bush signing the ADA law. It was an exciting time back then and it was a big deal when that law was signed. I’m glad that law was signed and doors continue to open for people with disabilities.

Questions or Media Inquiries

Contact: Danielle Gentry-Barth