#NADHandwave: February 2015

Michael Kwame Agyin

Have you met Michael Kwame Agyin? The NAD learned about him through the National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) celebration of Black History Month – we believe you should learn about him and his work too! He has over 15 years of experience in working with youth with disabilities in California.

Michael is the son of West African immigrant parents and was raised in Compton, California. He learned American Sign Language (ASL) while earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University, Northridge (CSUN). After earning his degree, Michael was determined to break the barrier between deaf and hearing worlds by building a bridge for youth of color with disabilities. As a job coach for the Marriott Foundation Bridges Program and youth advocate, he is able to break down such barriers. He is also the first deaf member of the Public Allies Los Angeles; an AmeriCorps fellowship program dedicated to engaging and advancing a diverse group of young leaders in an effort to strengthen communities, non-profit organizations, and civic participation.

Michael was appointed Outreach Coordinator for Los Angeles council member Tony Cardenas’ Deafestival, which he still serves. Deafestival is a citywide event to raise awareness, promote pride, and recognize the accomplishments of the deaf community. Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson honored Michael for his work, “Michael is an impressive role-model, not just for the deaf community, but for everyone.”

Michael served as the point person for issues impacting deaf and hard of hearing people and people with disabilities in the office of the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the Neighborhood and Community Services Department. He established the Disability Hire LA Youth pilot program, which helps youth with disabilities obtain summer jobs while providing them with internship and leadership opportunities throughout the City of Los Angeles.

Michael spent four years on the Youth Leadership Governing Board of the National Youth Leadership Network and continues to be an enthusiastic veteran volunteer for the Youth Leadership Forum based in Sacramento. Former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Michael to the State Independent Living Council. Currently, Michael serves as president of Hear Zero, an African American Deaf Advocacy group in the Los Angeles region.

Michael, thank you for your important advocacy – your 15+ years of experience in programs and services for youth with disabilities is a great example for all of us.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) gives monthly #NADHandwaves to people in our community. This is great opportunity for the NAD to recognize exemplary people who do the work they do. With such great people, the world continues to move. If you know someone who deserves a #NADHandwave, submit your suggestion online!


The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.