#DeafSuccess: Elise Knopf, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor

Jun 10, 2019

[Subtitles available in English & Spanish | Subtítulos disponibles en español y inglés]

Video description found here: https://tinyurl.com/y4rdsdxk

[Video description.


A woman with shoulder-length brown hair, wearing dark-framed rectangular glasses and a dark blue top and black jacket sits in an open plan room with rough brick walls, couches and small bar tables. She signs in American Sign Language.


I lived in the dorms for two weeks at Gallaudet University. That was my first exposure to Gallaudet and I didn’t know sign language. It was disorienting! I was surrounded by Deaf culture. I really learned about my identity as a Deaf person. And that stayed with me through my senior year in college.

I accepted an internship in Washington, DC, with Senator Tom Harkin. It was while they were writing the ADA, so it was a very exciting time.


A green frame surrounds her face, with the text – “Elise Knopf, vocational rehabilitation counselor.” In the corner of the screen there is a logo with a green bowl and a shape resembling a plant seedling, with the text – # Deaf Success.


I worked for the Subcommittee on Disability Policy. That committee was the one responsible for writing the ADA.

People flew in from all over to testify on disability policy. My role was to help with the delivery of papers among various senators’ offices. I was also researching in the areas of education, healthcare and disability policy.

During the creation of the bill, a bulk of the work was ensuring that the right language was used. Certain groups had their strongly held beliefs as to what they wanted to include in the ADA. Of course, we had disability rights advocates protesting and making statements to tell people why we needed the ADA.

It was quite something to be a part of. I learned so much. I developed great empathy for diverse groups of people with disabilities.

I think that’s part of the reason I went into vocational rehabilitation, because we serve all people with disabilities, not only the deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind.


She smiles and laughs. Text – # Deaf Success.

Then, the green logo of the plant shoot sprouting from the bowl, with the URL – national deaf center dot org.

Below, three smaller logos – Ideas That Work, with an encircling arrow, TA and D Network, with a blue and red six pointed star, and Department of Education, with a golden branched green tree.

Text – “This resource/poster/publication/website was developed under a jointly funded grant through the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, OSEP, and the Rehabilitation Services Administration, RSA, #H326D160001. However, the contents do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the federal government.”]

Do you have questions? Email us at: [email protected]

© National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes
Video licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International

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Topic(s): #DeafSuccess
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