Learning and Growing: One Colleague’s Discovery About Her Aunt Provides Perspective

The holidays mean more time together with family and importantly, remembering those we’ve lost. Sometimes, we learn pieces of those lost lives, only after their passing, and those pieces open up an entirely new chapter of appreciation and meaning. For Sabrina Redman, ASLI’s Interpretation Operations Manager, 2021 marked the passing of her aunt, Dorothy Jackson, an Ohio civic leader and politician, who is linked to Sabrina’s work with us in ways she wasn’t aware of.

A self-made woman who attended night classes to earn her business degree, Dorothy Jackson took a position at Goodwill Industries in 1957, after the loss of her parents and brother. During her 12-year tenure with Goodwill, she rose from a secretary to the assistant public relations director, Jackson learned ASL specifically to assist the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities she served. She carried that work into her 16-year career with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority as the social and tenant services administrator, providing personalized, dignified tenant and community care. In 1984, Jackson was nominated for deputy mayor of the City of Akron in 1984, where she continued to serve underrepresented communities. She received many honors during her career, including the United Way Distinguished Service Award and the Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award.

But to her niece, she was just her loving auntie, with a sign language hobby. “My Auntie always did ASL for our church and different events. We were all taught at least the ASL alphabet as we grew up but, in my lifetime, I just thought that ASL was a ‘hobby’ of hers that she wanted to share with us,” says Sabrina. “Her ‘hobby’ of ASL interpretation wasn’t just a hobby.”

“I have always thought that my great aunt was one of the most amazing women that I have ever known but I learned that she was more amazing than I ever knew.”

To read more about Dorothy Jackson, visit The History Makers.

We at ASLI wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season, full of remarkable, enlightening moments.


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