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Deaf International Development Professionals: Joshua Josa

Watch Joshua Josa, a Deaf man, explain how he started his career in the international development field. In ASL with English captions.
A scene from the video shows feet walking down steps outside. Some snow is on the ground.

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Click here to show & hide the transcript with descriptions

Don’t be Normal. Be Unique.

[A man, Joshua Josa, faces the camera. He is speaking in American Sign Language. English captions are on the screen. The following transcript below is based on the English translation.]

“Often times I see people with disabilities facing obstacles at work and deciding they need to change something about themselves in order to fit what’s seen as normal.” [Josh has an intense expression, emphasizing his message] “You don’t need to do that! When you become ‘normal’ you lose that unique essence that you have to offer.”

From Education to International Development

[Text on the screen says, “Josh Josa works with the US Agency for International Development as a Disability Inclusive Education Specialist.”]

[Joshua Josa is now typing on his laptop.] “I didn’t really plan to get into this field, I originally planned to do something related to deaf education. So I started off in that direction, but the whole time I had this sense of wanting something different.” [The screen shows a paper with the USAID logo on it. Then we see Joshua Josa signing to the camera again.] “Growing up I had traveled internationally and flown to other countries and my parents had too. So I always felt this pull, this sense of wondering what it might be like to live in another country, to work there and get to know deaf people abroad.”

[Several pictures of Joshua Josa in a classroom are shown. A text box on the screen says, “Josh spent two years with the Peace Corps working as a deaf education volunteer and behavioral change communicator.”]

Disability in International Development

[Josh is shown coming down a flight of stairs then taking a coat from a coat hanger. Next, he puts on his coat. A text box on the screen says, “He now advises USAID Education Officers globally on how their programs can be more disability inclusive.”]

[We see Josh leave his residence, then walking down the sidewalk. Snow covers the ground, except for the sidewalk. Throughout the rest of his narration, we see Josh continue to walk through the city.] Josh says, “When I started in international development, I saw that not many organizations were doing a good job of including people with disabilities. I’m happy to see some change in the past four years. But it’s still not changing fast enough from my point of view.

“For example, now I”m seeing a trend of many organizations posting internship opportunities for people with disabilities who have skills in a particular field. That’s good for people who want to be interns. But I’m often not seeing those internships leading to employment, which is such a missed opportunity for those organizations.

“And then another example is that I’m seeing more and more organizations hire employees to work as disability specialists, and people in those positions are typically working at the coordinator level. But what about positions at the implementation level? We need people with disabilities to be working throughout those different levels.”


[Josh faces the camera again, signing.] “To people with disabilities who are seeking jobs and want to get involved with an organization, I would say it’s important not to lose sight of who you are and know that who you are and your differences are what make you unique.” [We see Josh standing outside in the street, smiling with pride and confidence.]

Watch Joshua Josa, a Deaf man, explain how he started his career in the international development field. Josh now works at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He advises USAID education officers on how to make their programs disability inclusive. The video is in American Sign Language with English captions. It has voice over from an ASL to English interpreter.

DevEx, a media platform for the global development community, produced this video. DevEx first posted this video on their DevEx Enabled page. (Scroll down their page to find the video near the bottom.) They also have shared their video via their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

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