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Do you know someone who is D/deaf?
Probably: Over 730,000 Virginia residents report deafness or hardness of hearing.1

Do you know the difference between deaf and Deaf?
Those who refer to themselves as Deaf are members of the Deaf community and culture in all its uniqueness.  Lowercase “d” refers to the audio-logical condition of non-hearing.2

Do you know that American Sign Language (ASL) is not a word-for-word translation of English?
ASL syntax is different from English, ordered (though not always) with the time indicator/tense first, topic/subject next, followed by the action/verb, and concluding with the object. Syntax and signs can vary regionally, just like English dialects.3

Are you D/deaf and wish hearing people knew more about the D/deaf community as well as having a central location to find resources, employment opportunities and events?
We’re working on it! The Virginia Deaf Culture Digital Library website is intended to provide information and resources to both hearing and D/deaf Virginians.

Babak Zarin, Access Services Librarian at Central Rappahannock Regional Library System, conceived the Virginia Deaf Culture Digital Library (VDCDL) in 2019, when a need was expressed within his community for a D/deaf awareness and resources collection. Zarin then approached Nan Carmack, LVA’s Director of Library Development and Networking. The two brainstormed a bit, with Carmack looking into technical details while Zarin connected with his local D/deaf community for content recommendations. COVID influenced the team to work on the technical build first. The team is now opening out to the larger Virginia D/deaf community to create a steering committee, noting that both Zarin and Carmack are hearing and rely on the guidance and expertise of the D/deaf community to provide accurate and robust resources through the website.

The objective of the VDCDL is to provide a greater understanding and inclusion of Deaf Culture by people who are hearing, as well as to provide a clearinghouse for resources available in Virginia. These include ASL education opportunities, Deaf culture and history information, employment, and social opportunities. Collaborators include the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Virginia Association of the Deaf. Further, public libraries across Virginia will have access to training and resources to improve library services to residents in the D/deaf community.

All Virginia residents currently have access to free ASL learning through Rocket Languages with their local public library card. Start at Find It Virginia to learn more. The Library of Virginia’s OverDrive collection of eBooks also features an ever-growing selection of books with D/deaf protagonists and about the D/deaf community.

Constructive comments, event listings, and recommendations may be addressed to Carmack at The VDCDL is supported by funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act.

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Book Description: The protagonist, Julia, who is deaf, covers a slur on the wall of the Kingston School for the Deaf and is promptly expelled and thrust into a mainstream school in the suburbs, where she is treated as an outcast- the only deaf student in the school. Julia is left with her art and her message. Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, Whitney Gardener provides gorgeous illustration and a one-of-a-kind character who is herself, no matter her circumstances.4


1“S180: Disability Characteristics,” Virginia, American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, last updated 2019,

2“Community and Culture: Frequently Asked Questions,” National Association for the Deaf, accessed January 21, 2022,,ASL)%20%E2%80%93%20and%20a%20culture

3Vicars, William, “American Sign Language: Grammar,” accessed January 21, 2022,

4Gardner, Whitney, You’re Welcome, Universe. (New York, Random House, 2017)

Nan Carmack

Director, Library Development & Networking

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