advocate, actor, leader
It’s hard to sum up Tom Posedly’s achievements
in a few words, as he has accomplished
notable things in several areas, starting
from his high-school days. “I was the
oldest of seven children, the sole deaf
in the whole family. My father was a first-aid
worker in coal mines in Ohio and later
worked as a trench-digging-machine operator for natural-gas lines
all over in Tucson. My mother took me to nineteen
doctors [before] I was finally labeled
as deaf at age two. I [attended the] Alexander Graham Bell kindergarten,
ages 3 to 5. The reports say I was good at socialization and fair
on lipreading. [To this day] I don’t lipread or talk. I knew I couldn’t
pronounce words, so why talk?
“I was five when my family moved to Tucson
[because of] my brother’s asthma. I entered Arizona State School for
the Deaf and the Blind in Fall 1946. I was a very good student academically
and a hotshot basketball player [during my] ASDB years.”
“The summer after 10th grade I took Geometry
at Tucson High School and got a B. After
11th grade, I transferred myself to the public Amphitheater High School.
(I guess I was tired of ASDB.) I had a wonderful time there. I was
Senior Class Treasurer, Key Club member, and [letterman]. Although
I didn’t [score] many points, I was the first sub for any three positions
on Amphi’s basketball team. I’m 5" 10" and my teammates were well above
“At Amphi I took Mechanical Drafting.
[Since] my teacher taught both Mechanical Drafting
and Architectural Drafting in the same classroom, I was exposed to
architectural-drawing work done by other students.”
Back then, there were no support services.
He located good note-takers and
asked if he could look on. And he thrived. After
graduating from Amphi, he received a scholarship
from University of Arizona. A fine draftsman, he
had the ability to make impromptu sketches, which
he put to use in the popular “Quick Coloring” drafting
workshops he later offered to architectural professionals
He set up his own architectural firm in 1971,
and also offered drafting and rendering services.
He joined the Tucson branch of the American Institute
of Architects (AIA), handled numerous projects
for large companies in Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, and
Colorado, did design and consultation for several
others, and networked with other deaf architects.
U of A mounted the first retrospective
of his work in 1973; NTID mounted a similar show
10 years later. He taught at U of A, too.
He met Penny Hamilton in 1963, and they’ve
been married nearly 46 years. It was “love at first
sight,” and ASL that has kept them going. She learned
from scratch, and became a certified interpreter.
Tom helped found the Greater Tucson Advisory
Council for the Deaf and its offshoot, the Community
Outreach Program for the Deaf, which now offers
services in two states. He also helped found the
Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing,
a statewide information-and-referral agency. ACDHH”s
Community View is the nation’s longest-running
Deaf-community TV series.
During a 10-year sojourn in Hawaii, he
helped prevent the closure of the Hawaii School
for the Deaf and the Blind. A talented ASL performer,
he participated (for example) in three noteworthy
ASL productions to raise funds for the Aloha State Association of the
In 2007, he received the Arizona Architects
medal from the state branch of the AIA. And in
2008, he was elected a Fellow of the AIA—one of
the highest honors in the architectural field.
Now semi-retired, he has a part-time architectural
practice in Phoenix and runs the video laboratory
for Phoenix College’s ITP. He chairs the Board
of Directors of the Arizona Deaf Senior Citizens
Coalition, a co-partner of the $17 million Apache
ASL Trails project in Tempe—a 125-unit high-tech
apartment community for retired Deaf, hard-of-hearing, and
Deafblind people—the first of its kind. Construction’s