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Ricardo Lopez
Library activist

Ricardo Lopez was born deaf (due to maternal rubella) in Puerto Rico, and was mainstreamed, struggling to glean information and keep up by doing extensive reading outside of class. When he began high school, he met other Deaf students, learned sign language, and began his connection with the Deaf community. "I believe this was the moment when I found my true identity as a Deaf person. . . . I also became aware of the plight of the Deaf community—their unmet educational needs and the lack of services such as sign-language interpreters across the whole island."

"The University of Puerto Rico opened a new world for me. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities. I also worked as an occupational counselor at the Vocational Rehabilitation Center for the Deaf in Guaynabo. . . . After one year, I quit to start a new adventure—I was accepted into the graduate program in Educational Technology at Gallaudet University." He worked as a technical assistant in the Merrill Learning Center/Library,and tutored students learning Spanish and Latino students at MSSD. "My practicum in Instructional Design and Educational Technology was at the Puerto Rico Telephone Company, where I developed a training program for approximately 300 employees on the implementation of Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act, providing telecommunication services for Deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers."

After graduating in 1995, he worked at St. Rita's School for the Deaf in Cincinnati. "After two years, I returned to Washington to work at the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, Office of the Governor. I was in charge of facilitating information and technical assistance to more than 500 nonprofit organizations applying for federal grants. After a short stint with the Corporation for National Service/AmeriCorps and a nonprofit organization promoting artists with disabilities, I entered University of Maryland’s graduate program in Library and Information Science. In May 2008, I graduated with my second Master’s degree, specializing in School Library Media. I’m certified as a library-media specialist by the Maryland State Department of Education.

“I’m currently working as a program analyst with the U.S. government. In my free time, I volunteer as president of the National Literary Society of the Deaf, a nonprofit organization promoting Deaf culture, literacy, and books in the Deaf community. NLSD is now a partner with the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book, collaborating on special projects such as 'Deaf America Reads,' which promotes books by Deaf authors. I also participate in events promoting the Deaf Latino community." One of his goals is to encourage all Deaf people to read not only for information, but for sheer enjoyment.

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