Jaimi Lard

Jaimi Lard at a speaking engagement.

Jaimi Lard represents Perkins as the Diversity & Inclusion Speaker. She has been deaf and blind since birth.

Booking

Perkins Speaker Program
617-972-7774
PublicSpeaker@Perkins.org

Jaimi Lard loves adventure. She has surfed, skied, swung on a trapeze and testified before Congress. Born deaf and blind, she is extraordinary, but she is also as ordinary as anyone: she eats out at restaurants, enjoys meeting friends for coffee and rides a bike. She was a Girl Scout.

As the Diversity & Inclusion Speaker for Perkins School for the Blind, Lard engages and entertains while challenging audiences to embrace inclusion and value the ability of every person. In a typical year, she addresses dozens of groups and thousands of individuals about living independently as a person who is deafblind.

She annually testifies before Massachusetts legislative committees, advocating for programs and services for people with deafblindness. In 2006, she addressed over 10,000 people at the Lions International Convention, the first person who is deafblind to address this convention since Helen Keller did in 1925. Lard was named a “Hero Among Us” by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation for her advocacy work for people with disabilities and was invited to accept an a posthumous award for Anne Sullivan from the Irish American Hall of Fame, among many other honors.

Lard brings her highly personal, insightful and interactive multimedia presentations to universities, community groups, professional associations, schools and conventions. With the assistance of her interpreter, she invites her audiences to experience her world, which is defined more by ingenuity than by disability. Audiences come away with a sense that they, too, can communicate across perceived barriers. She urges the crowd to connect with her directly. “If you applaud,” she says, “I will not be able to hear you. But if you stamp your feet, I will feel the vibrations and know you enjoyed our time together.”

When you book Jaimi: You’ll get a spirited speaker who is dynamic and engaging despite being unable to see or hear her audience. She will demonstrate to your group that we all have more in common than we think. Lard has spoken to government agencies, large employers, college students, community groups and conventions.


Speech topics

  • The courage to be inclusive: A practical approach to a more inclusive society
  • Just like us: With or without disabilities, people are more alike than different
  • Making a connection: Communicating with someone who doesn’t hear or speak
  • Unlocking the gate: How technology and other breakthroughs are making life more accessible for people with disabilities

Recent speaking engagements:  Wheelock College, Acton’s Discovery Museum, Lion’s Club of Millis


Testimonials

“Your positive attitude reminds us all that in life, any barrier can be overcome with determination, persistence and hard work. You are an inspiration to all of us.” – Mike O’Shaughnessy, Millis Lions Club

"Jaimi’s ideas and actions demonstrate her motivation to chart her own destiny. To our students, she brings a level of authenticity that leads them to examine numerous barriers to success that exist for many people in society, today. Her resilience evokes students' commitment – as aspiring human-services professionals – toward facilitating the best opportunities and outcomes for all human beings; this, they concede is the very essence of humanity." -- Dr. Felicity Crawford, Chair of Special Education and Associate Professor, Wheelock College


Watch Jaimi's TEDx Talk


Stories

Dwyer and Lard face each other while signing.

Q&A: How Pro-Tactile American Sign Language — PTASL — is changing the conversation

Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Jaimi Lard and Sign Language Interpreter Christine Dwyer describe the revolution sweeping the deafblind community.
A woman who is deafblind communicates with an interpreter using tactile sign language.

My time at DbI

The inaugural Network of the Americas Conference was both a learning and teaching opportunity.
Jaimi Lard and Christine Dwyer sit in front of a projector screen while students watch.

Tufts dental students get crash course in treating deafblind patients

Perkins speaker Jaimi Lard, who is deafblind, offered actionable advice for treating patients with different disabilities.
A young student wearing glasses

Perkins' year in review: 17 photos from 2017

A look back at the biggest moments of the year.
Jaimi Lard and Christine Dwyer standing on the TEDx stage

Jaimi Lard brings message of inclusion to TEDxBeaconStreet

Lard, who is deafblind, challenged the crowd to ‘see the world differently.’
Two women use tactile sign to communicate in a classroom

Demystifying deafblindness

Public school nurses hear from Perkins spokesperson Jaimi Lard about the realities of living without vision or hearing.
Two women sit side by side and use tactile sign language to communicate.

5 easy ways to make your workplace inclusive for someone who's deafblind

By using the right technology and establishing avenues for communication, you can create a work environment for success.
A woman who is deafblind sits next to a tactile sign language interpreter in training

Sharing the secrets of deafblind interpreting

Perkins spokesperson Jaimi Lard brings new perspective to interpreters-in-training at Framingham State University.
Jaimi Lard greets people taking a tour of Perkins School for the Blind

Ask a deafblind person

Jaimi Lard, who is deafblind, answers questions about what it’s like to live without vision or hearing.
Two people, one with a white cane, walk on a sidewalk together

Making streets safer for people with blindness

Perkins spokesperson Jaimi Lard is the voice for people with disabilities on the Arsenal Street Corridor Working Group.
A woman holding a white cane puts her face close to a sign at Logan Airport.

Making airports more deafblind-friendly

Perkins spokesperson Jaimi Lard tells Logan Airport managers about her travel experiences as a person with deafblindness.
Jaimi Lard poses by a large round sculpture made of bricks and roofing tiles

Taking a 'touching tour' of a sculpture park

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum makes art accessible to everyone, even visitors who can’t see or hear
A student wearing goggles being led by another student

A visit to the world of deafblindness

Perkins spokesperson Jaimi Lard brings the deafblind experience to students at Cambridge School of Weston.