Kevin Long

Ashoka Fellow
United States,
Fellow Since 2002


This profile was prepared when Kevin Long was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Kevin is increasing the social, economic, and educational opportunities for deaf people in developing nations. Witnessing the gap between the number of deaf students enrolled in school at an elementary age and the number of deaf working professionals, Kevin created the Global Deaf Connection (GDC), an organization based on the premise that education leads to opportunity.

In contrast to the current model of placing hearing teachers–trained to teach hearing students–in deaf schools, Kevin is creating a cycle of support that will enable these teachers to teach their deaf students effectively. By tapping into resources from developed nations, mentors are placed with hearing teachers to train them in sign language and deaf education teaching techniques that will increase communication and heighten the success of their lessons. Students respond to the methodology and improve the likelihood of their success in the education system.

But the support cycle goes beyond increasing the effectiveness of deaf students' education. Kevin realizes that there are still barriers and cultural stereotypes that prohibit deaf students from becoming active professionals in society. Although bridging the gap between teachers and students will impact the cultural stereotypes within schools, GDC has also created a College Support Program to assist deaf students through higher education, to help them achieve professional degrees, and then to partner with the government to find jobs that will allow deaf people to utilize their education.

As credentialed professionals entering the work force, hearing and deaf members of society increase their interaction and their understanding and acceptance of one another. This shift will highlight the potential of deaf people and, in turn, remove the economic burden of the government and social organizations to support deaf people who have traditionally not been active contributors to the economy. More specifically, by encouraging a percentage of these deaf students to obtain professional degrees in teaching, GDC hopes that they will complete the cycle by entering back into the education system with the communication, teaching, and mentoring methods needed to end the reliance on resources from developed nations. The aim is for the cycle to become self-sustaining, providing a critical method of education, economic development, and opportunity to increase the social well-being for this target population.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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