ASLTA Awards

ASLTA recognizes the contributions made by members to the field of ASL education or to the Association at each national professional development conference. Prior to the conference, announcements will be made inviting nominations for the various awards. If you have questions regarding ASLTA’s awards, please contact the Professional Development chair at

Each award and past recipients are listed below.

Stephen M. Ryan Teacher of the Year Award

This award honors Stephen M. Ryan (1958 – 1995), ASL comedian, storyteller, and teacher.

Given to a person possessing ASLTA certification, who has made major contributions to the cultural and humorous aspects of ASL instruction.

1996Alan Barwiolek
1998Ben Bahan
2000E. Lynn Jacobowitz
2002Sam and Tom Holcomb
2005Mel Carter
2007Adonia Smith
2009Leslie C. Greer
2011David Martin
2013Patrick Fischer
2015(no recipient)
2017April Haggard
2019Laura Smith

T.J. O’Rourke
Memorial Award

This award honors Terence James O’Rourke, civil rights activist, ASL teacher, publisher, and advocate in recognizing ASL as a language, and a pioneer in establishing ASL programs.

Given to an ASLTA member who has contributed significantly to the field of ASL teacher education.

1996MJ Bienvenu
1998Keith Cagle
2000Rachel Stone
2002Mike Kemp
2005Ella Mae Lentz
2007Jason E. Zinza
2009Ken Mikos
2011Glenna Ashton
2013Alysse Rasmussen
2015(no recipient)
2017Carla García-Fernández
2019MJ Bienvenu

George Veditz Award

This award honors George W. Veditz (1861 – 1937), NAD President remembered for his courageous leadership, advocacy, and efforts to preserve ASL by spearheading a film project that has had lasting influence.

Given to an individual in recognition of significant contributions to the field of ASL. This is the most prestigious ASLTA award presented to individuals in the field of ASL education. Recipients are not necessarily members of ASLTA.

1994Ella Mae Lentz, Ken Mikos, Cheri Smith
1996Bill Newell
1998Marie Jean Philip
2000Bill Newell
2002Lou Fant (posthumous)
2005Leslie Greer
2007Tim Owens
2009E. Lynn Jacobowitz
2011Larry Forestal (posthumous)
2013Patricia G. Beech
2015Keith Cagle
2017Regan Thibodeau
2019Raychelle Harris

Chapter Excellence Award

This award is presented to an ASLTA chapter whose leaders and members have done an outstanding job in increasing membership, promoting fundraising, providing professional development activities, and promoting ASLTA.

The ASLTA Board selects the recipient upon the recommendation of the Chapters Chair.

1996Greater New York ASLTA
1998Veditz ASLTA
2000Michigan ASLTA
2002Washington ASLTA
2005Florida ASLTA
2007Maryland ASLTA (formerly Frederick Chapter)
2009North Carolina ASLTA
2011Pennsylvania ASLTA
2013Ohio ASLTA
2015(no recipient)
2017Colorado ASLTA
2019Florida ASLTA

Sponsor Excellence Award

This award is given to a for-profit company or non-profit organization in recognition of its dedicated support and continuous service to ASLTA and affiliated chapters.

The ASLTA Board selects recipients of this award.

1996DawnSign Press
1998National Association of the Deaf
2000MSM Productions / Matthew Moore
2002Educational Technology Resource Room and Instructional Design - NTID Evaluation at NTID
2005Conference of Interpreter Trainers
2007Sign Media, Inc.
2009DawnSign Press
2011Sign Media, Inc.
2013Gallaudet University Department of ASL and Deaf Studies
2015Sign Media, Inc.
2017Sorenson Communications
2019DawnSign Press

Marie Jean Philip
Memorial Award

Established in 2013, this award is in honor of Marie Jean Philip (1953 – 1997), who was an international advocate for ASL as a heritage and modern language for all people. She was a noted promotor of bilingual and bicultural education for Deaf children.

This award is given to a K-12 instructor teaching ASL as a heritage or world language and is actively involved in expanding language and literary opportunities outside of the classroom.

2013ASL Honor Society:
Howard Gilliland
Lisa Godfrey
Rhonda Leslie
Patricia McCarthy
Jason E. Zinza
2015(no recipient)
2017ASL That!: Joseph Wheeler
2019Laurene Simms

Alan “ALB” Barwiolek Distinguished Service Award

This award honors Alan Roy “ALB” Barwiolek (1952 – 1996), better known as ALB, ASL teacher, performer, and advocate dedicated to the ideals of to ASLTA and to service to others. Long after his term as chair of the Evaluation and Certification program ended, he gave freely of his professional expertise to support the certification of ASL teachers, truly reflecting the mission and purpose of ASLTA.

This award is given in recognition of an individual’s contributions to the Evaluation program, and is selected by the current Evaluation Chair.

1996Isabelle Calvacca
1998Keith Cagle, Laura Thomas, Chuck Gramly
2000Ruth Sandefur
2002Ken Mikos
2005Chuck Gramly
2007Rachel Stone
2009JaNahne McReady-Johnston, Patricia G. Beech
2011Dorothy Wilkins
2013Sharon Lott, Ken Mikos, Bill Newell
2015Amy June Rowley, Glenna Ashton, E. Lynn Jacobowitz
2017Keith Cagle
2019Glenna Ashton, Lisa Johnston, Sharon Lott

Isabelle Calvacca Award

This special award was created by the President of ASLTA in 2005 in honor of Isabelle Calvacca and her dedication to ASLTA. It is presented to an individual who has been most helpful to the President in accomplishing the mission and goals of ASLTA.

The recipient is selected by the President.

2005Laura Thomas
2007Tom Riggs
2009Keith Cagle
2011Barbara Hayes
2013Cathi Bouton
2015(no recipient)
2017Christine Multra-Kraft
2019Amy T. Andersen, Jason E. Zinza

Dr. Nathie Marbury Memorial Award

Dr. Nathie Marbury was a true pioneer at heart—she was the first Black Deaf woman in her endeavors as an educator such as the following:  Masters program graduate of the National Leadership Training Program for the Deaf at California State University, Northridge; instructor at the Kendall Demonstration Elementary School for the Deaf; and appointed Board member-at-large of the National Association of the Deaf. Dr. Marbury was a also a masterful storyteller, artistic performer, and teacher.  Dr. Nathie Marbury award nominees must be members of ASLTA.

This award is given to a person of color who is an ASLTA member and works as a K-12 and/or post-secondary instructor. This individual has demonstrated exemplary work in at least one of the following areas:

  • Advocating for civil rights and social justice issues in the Deaf community.
  • Teaching a Deaf culture course focusing on an intersectionality lens, signed linguistic rights, and advocacy in the Deaf community.
2019Arlon Nash

Excellent Service Award

This award is given in recognition of outstanding service to ASLTA for special accomplishments as needed.

The ASLTA Board selects recipients.

2013National ASL Standards Committee:
Dr. Glenna Ashton
Dr. Kim Brown Kurz
Dr. Keith M. Cagle
Dr. William J. Newell
Dr. Richard Peterson
Dr. Jason E. Zinza