Claudia Gordon is recognized as one of former President Barack Obama’s key advisors for disability issues. She was also the first female deaf African American lawyer to graduate law school and pursue a career devoted to helping individuals with disabilities. Today she works in a senior role at Sprint, a company with many accessibility features that enable people who are deaf to communicate.
At the age of eight, Gordon began to develop severe pain in her ears, which resulted in her becoming permanently deaf. She faced discrimination in her own home country of Jamaica and realized she could not stay there, so she attended high school and college in America. By junior year of high school, she knew being a lawyer was the career she wanted to pursue. Gordon never let doubt or fear be a hindrance in her life. She made the best out of her disability and prospered.
Gordon studied political science at Howard University, one of America’s most famous Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in 1995. She completed law school at American University. Upon graduating, she was offered several positions in various government agencies.
“Thanks to the values that were instilled in me during my formative years, I understood then that those voices of doubt neither dictated my worth nor my capacity,” said Gordon. “I want to contribute to a better society where there is more understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and where the same opportunities are provided for all” she added.
Gordon worked as a Senior Policy Advisor for the Department of Homeland Security. In 2005, her primary duty was enforcing executive orders for individuals with disabilities in emergency preparedness situations such as Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In 2004, Gordon served as vice president for the National Black Deaf Advocates. She also received the Paul G. Hearne/AAPD leadership award from the American Association of people with disabilities. In 2013, Gordon served as public engagement advisor at the White House working with the disability community.
The discrimination she faced growing up did not stop Gordon from achieving her goals. “It is uplifting when you are able to empower another and help someone discover a sense of self-worth and confidence in his or her abilities,” she said of her efforts to continue to inspire many, especially those who are deaf as well.