Interview with Kelby Brick, recipient of “Leadership in Law” award from The Daily Record
Kelby Brick, a Deaf lawyer and Director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, received a “Leadership in Law Award” from a Baltimore area newspaper, The Daily Record.
A press release from the ODHH explained that Brick was selected by an outside panel of judges for his professional achievement, community service, and mentoring.
Here is an interview with Brick.
Hello, Kelby. Congratulations on your award. What does the award mean to you?
Brick: Thank you, Alex. I’m truly touched and honored. Many times the staff have worked relentlessly creating change whether it’s in policy, law and more which impact the Deaf community. Various hearing people do not realize this. Now, with this award, they’re recognizing the hard work I along with many others put in. It’s a really fulfilling feeling for me.
Knowing how important this is, I hope this opens more doors and we can make progress on certain issues, change lives and ensure deaf people are equal with hearing people.
Alex: In my generation, when I grew up, you were one of the first well-known Deaf lawyers. Now it is 2019. What is your viewpoint on what kind of impact Deaf lawyers have on improving Deaf people’s lives?
Brick: That’s a great question. When I started out as a novice, I was one of a few deaf people in the legal field. Those deaf people who came before me worked hard, opened doors for me and I’m grateful for them. Now, I’m working on opening more doors for future generations and we’re already seeing many more deaf lawyers which is wonderful. That’s important to me.
This award recognizes many different fields of law. Some of them specialize in lawsuits and trial processes which I used to be heavily involved with. There are other fields as well. For example, recently our office had a meeting with the Division of Rehabilitation Services to discuss the limited employment options for deaf people. What I did was strongly recommend that they hire deaf people and made it clear that this was an urgent need. After some time, they made significant progress in hiring deaf employees and clients had success in finding job opportunities. Statistics showed that the rates had more than doubled. This was a historical moment for us because our lawyers provided support and pushed for this in different ways not necessarily in the courtroom. There’s been increases in different places.
Alex: In your office’s announcement video about your award, you said “civil rights are never given, only taken.”
What did you mean by this, why did you say that?
Brick: You know deaf and hearing people should be equal in all facets of life, but we’re still slowly achieving this goal. We achieve these goals, not by sympathy of hearing people, but by fighting for what’s rightfully ours inch by inch. For example, I just described our successful meeting with the Division of Rehabilitation Services and the increase in employment. We did this by applying great pressure and this achieved results. If I had asked them to do it as a favor, I would’ve been rebutted. I had to fight for it and if I want to see more results, I have to fight for it and provide constant advocacy. That’s how.
Alex: Do you have anything to add?
Kelby: I want to recognize and thank the (Maryland) Governor Larry Hogan who’s been a wonderful supporter of the deaf community here and of this office. He’s always encouraged us to keep moving ahead and understands the importance of bilingualism among other goals. He understands the importance of having a deaf ecosystem, investing in it, providing economic empowerment and creating job opportunities. We can do the same by thinking about how we can support deaf businesses, job opportunities among different things. We can do this by recognizing different backgrounds, different lifestyles and when we come together as one, we become stronger. I want us to do more of this, working together and sharing resources so that we create a future of limitless potential.
Alex: Thank you very much for your time. Congratulations on the award.