Deaf Focus 10th Anniversary Gala
6:00 PM18:00

Deaf Focus 10th Anniversary Gala

What!? 10 Years!? Yes, it's been 10 years already!

Deaf Focus has been serving the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community here in the Greater Baton Rouge Region for 10 years, the last 4 as a non-profit. We are excited to celebrate this milestone with a BIG event with all of you - a Gala - which will take place on Saturday, October 5th, at The Tracy Center Ballroom in Baton Rouge. We will be serving hors d'ouevres, a buffet dinner, and a Cash Bar with entertainment! 

This event will be a fundraiser, taking place of our signature event, EatDrinkSign! which is usually held at this time of the year. Our advocacy is unpaid, and we rely on the support of our sponsors, our donors, our friends, and families in the community.

Our Director and Founder, Paula Rodriguez, will open our evening to welcome everyone and reminisce about the past 10 years with a slideshow presentation, and present awards to recognize the efforts of those who go above and beyond in the community:

  • Interpreter

  • Service Provider

  • Youth Leadership (Click Here for nomination form)

  • Most Valuable Player

Our Guest of Honor, the Honorable State Representative Patricia Haynes Smith, other Speakers, and former Deaf Focus staff members will be joining us as well!


We are ecstatic to have both, John Maucere and DJ Nico DiMarco, with us at our special event!  Mr. Maucere will perform stories in American Sign Language/visual vernacular including a tribute to Bernard Bragg who perished near the end of last year, and Mr. DiMarco will work on filling our atmosphere with great music and get us all jiggy on the dance floor.

John Maucere.jpg

John Maucere

John Maucere, a seasoned international performer, graduated from California School for the Deaf, Riverside and attended Gallaudet where he was one of the rally leaders who led Gallaudet through the 1988 Deaf President Now (DPN) movement.  His contribution was recognized in the published book titled “The Week the World Heard About Gallaudet.”  This sparked his lifelong passion, to inspire and believe that deaf people can do anything.

John broke through Hollywood stereotypes and became the first deaf actor in ABC’s Talent Development Program, attended by the likes of Tom Hanks and Arsenio Hall.  From there, John appeared on several television series, such as NBC’s “Law and Order” and “Brand New Life,” USA Network’s “Pacific Blue,” and ABC’s “Parker Kane,” and “10-8.”   John founded DEAFYWOOD, which culminated its 13-year tour on the 2007 sold-out Deaf Freedom Cruise attended by 4,000 passengers where he was also its cruise director. Since then, John has voyaged around the world on several cruises with Passages Deaf Travel (PDT) as its cruise director and entertainer. John was the headliner for the sold-out crowd of 4,000 on Royal Caribbean’s Deaf Freedom Cruise with Passages Deaf Travel.

On top of performing and emceeing, John is the creator and host of “Live in Hollywood: The John Maucere Show” and in various locations such as New York and Hawaii. His interviews with notable special guests is telecasted live through the internet. John is often seen at various DeafNation Expos as game show host and entertainer. His work has garnered him recognition by fans for iPerson of the Month by iDeaf News.

In 2008, John was recognized by the City of Los Angeles for his exemplary service to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. John is renowned for his hilarious character, Superdeafy, now playing in a series of webisodes, through  John portrayed the SuperDeafy character, a Deaf superhero in a movie, No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie starring Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, which was recently released to rave reviews at the Heartland Film Festival.  John’s newest venture is expanding his artistic portfolio by creating and performing original ASL poems at academic institutions as well as through the internet.

He has done sketches at the Hollywood’s House of Blues with Eva Longoria and Cheri Oteri and has co-mastered ceremonies with Marlee Matlin and Ken Paves.  John performed the National Anthem and America the Beautiful with Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson as a spokesperson for the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and as a featured fan favorite for PepsiCo at the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans. He was also an ASL coach for the signer, Treshelle Edmond, who had signed the National Anthem and America the Beautiful for the 2015 Superbowl. We are absolutely thrilled to have him with us on our special night!

Visit his website: CLICK HERE


D.J. Nico DiMarco

Nico DiMarco, a fourth generation Deaf from a family of over 25 Deaf people, and brother of Model/Activist, Nyle DiMarco. He hails from New York City, attended Maryland School for the Deaf, and graduated from Gallaudet University in 2012. Growing up, Nico developed an affinity for 90's and 2000's Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, Reggae, House Music and his passion for dance contributed to his mind-set in a career in the music field. Nico has been working as a professional DeeJay touring all over the world for the last 9 years and hopes to continues doing what he loves. Nico says "Most of my favorite part is playing those tracks that get you tapping your feet and nodding your head without you realizing it."  We are looking forward to having him filling our event with great music and getting our friends jiggy throughout the night!

We will have a silent auction at the event as well so bring your wallets!!! 

NOTE: We are accepting donations for this silent auction up until September 20, 2019. If you would like to donate, please contact Jay at Thank you!


6:30 pm: Greetings & Opening Remarks

  • Paula Rodriguez, Founder & Director - Deaf Focus

  • Jimmy Challis Gore, President - Louisiana Association of the Deaf, Inc.

  • Guest of Honor - State Rep. Patricia Haynes Smith

7:15 pm: Dinner

  • Hors d'oeuvres

  • Buffet Dinner

  • Cash Bar

  • Silent Auction 

8:00 pm: Awards

  • Champ Interpreter Appreciation Award

  • Joseph “Ari” Latino Youth Leadership

  • Champ! Service Provider Award

8:15 pm: ASL Performance with John Maucere 

9:15 pm: Social - Music & Dance with D.J. Nico DiMarco

  • Pictures 

  • Cash Bar

  • Silent Auction 

10:00 pm: Silent Auction Ends

11:30 pm: Wrap up


The Tracy Center Ballroom

1800 S Acadian Thruway

Baton Rouge, LA


October 5th, 2019

6:30 pm - 11:30 pm


Don't miss out on this incredible event to celebrate with us while supporting Deaf Focus' continuing services and advocacy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens of Louisiana.

NOTE: We are offering a discounted admission for reserving an entire table. Also, we will accept admissions at the door at $100/per person if we are not sold out. NO REFUNDS.

Maximum 252 seats.

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Kidz Kamp
to Jun 16

Kidz Kamp

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We had a great time at our 8th Annual Kidz Kamp.  Our signature weekend event will took place at Camp Istrouma in Greenwell Springs, LA on June 14-16, 2019, and this was our 5th year at this location. 

“What’s special about this camp,” says Paula Rodriguez, Executive Director, “is that communication is open to everyone. Many of our kids have deaf parents so they know sign language and can communicate with the kampers who are Deaf.  Also, those parents who are Deaf can register, drop off their children, and communicate with staff without any communication barriers.  Parents and kids love the easy access to communication and information.” Many of our adult volunteers are Deaf or have Deaf parents.  Almost all volunteers are fluent in sign language including our camp nurse, Amanda Lewis.

Your support was tremendous this year! Many of our campers were partially or fully funded for the weekend. National and local businesses and friends helped to support the camp so costs can remain reasonable for parents. Many kampers were able to attend only because of scholarships funded by individuals and businesses. Several deaf professionals from the Greater Baton Rouge Area are volunteeed for the day as well. This was a fully-inclusive, fun-filled weekend without any communication barriers!

Kamper Registration is $125. Ages 5-14.

Junior Volunteer Registration is $100. Ages 15-17.

All of our staff are on a volunteer basis, hand-selected, and must pass a background check.

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8:30 AM08:30

"Embracing Differences"


“Embracing Differences.”
A brief overview of Pro-Tactile Interpreting for individuals who are DeafBlind, a consumer panel, and our featured presentation about working with LGBTQ+ individuals. See more details below.

The Deaf community is as diverse as it is beautiful, and this year we want to celebrate the differences that makes us beautiful. We will be holding a workshop to learn about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and the many identities within these umbrellas. (LGBTQ+)

We are excited to welcome Capi Landreneau, LCSW a gender therapist with a private practice in Baton Rouge. Capi has provided training and education for clinicians and other professionals at all levels so that those in a position to affirm and support LGBTQ+ individuals are knowledgeable and prepared to do so.

One of our LGBTQ+ community members, Blaise Perry who is also DeafBlind, will provide a 60-minute Basic Pro-Tactile Awareness Training and will participate in our consumer panel with other members of the Deaf community.

RID CEUs will be provided.

Registration is $55.00 (You can pay on or come to our office to make a payment) Contact us at

Lunch on your own. Yvette Marie is a nice restaurant next door with an interesting antique store inside with an excellent menu.


Capi Landreneau

Capi Landreneau

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7:00 AM07:00

Dash For Kids/RunWalkSign! 5K


Introducing the first-ever partnership event between these two Baton Rouge non-profit organizations serving the Deaf, the Louisiana School for the Deaf Foundation (LSDF) and Deaf Focus, in a fundraising effort for the students at Louisiana School for the Deaf (LSD) and Deaf Focus' continuing advocacy efforts towards their success.

LSDF’s signature Dash For Kids will merge with Deaf Focus’ RunWalkSign! 5K in hopes that this collaboration will bring attention to Deaf Education as well as the needed awareness of the students’ journey to self-reliance, independence, and being contributing members of society.

We are looking to raise funds and awareness of the Louisiana School for the Deaf and of Deaf Culture. The school’s Foundation in collaboration with Deaf Focus will hold the 18th annual Dash for Deaf Kids / RunWalkSign! 5K race at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2019.

This year, the Race day will be expanded to include post-race activities to expand community interest and participation.

Below is the schedule of events:

7:00 a.m. Registration opens
8:00 a.m. 1-mile Fun Run begins
8:30 a.m. 5K begins
9:30 a.m. Announcement and awards, door prizes
Raffle Table Opens
10-11 a.m. Entertainment with Sunshine 2.0 (Deaf Theatrical Group from RIT in Rochester, New York)
10:30 a.m. Tour of the school available
11:00 a.m. Jambalaya Lunch served on the grounds
12:30 p.m. Event concludes

Join us and invite your friends and family for a day of outdoor FUN to support a great cause! Please contact us if you are interested in being a sponsor for the event and get your name or company name on the race shirt! Email Jay: (Deadline: March 1, 2019)

Register online at or on-site the day of the event. Not a runner? Not a problem! We'll have our “Fun Run” one-mile option around the campus for those who wish to walk, jog or stroll.

The Dash for Deaf Kids/RunWalkSign!, a 5K race, will begin at the school’s campus, located at 2888 Brightside Lane, and will run through Riverbend Subdivision and back to the school. Brightside Lane will be blocked off to traffic at the beginning and end of the race as participants cross from the subdivision to the school.


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to Feb 2

5th Annual Deaf Education Alliance

DEA 2019 CJ Jones.png

Deaf Education Alliance, a project of Deaf Focus, will be hosting its 5th Annual Deaf Education Summit on February 1-2, 2019 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The main focus of this Summit will be in Early Childhood Development. CEU’s provided.

Deaf Education Alliance's Summit is the only conference in Louisiana that provides education and networking specific to the needs of students who are Deaf, Deafblind, and Hard of Hearing (DDBHH); bringing together national and local presenters to share information with Louisiana stakeholders. We are inviting parents, teachers, school administrators, psychologists, early intervention service specialists, mentors, social workers, audiologists, speech therapists, deaf education professionals, interpreters, and members of the DDBHH community. #2019DEASummit

Early Bird Rates in effect until January 20th at midnight!

Interested in sponsoring this event??

We are offering space for exhibit booths too!

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7:00 PM19:00

Ben Bahan Live!

As a storyteller and recorder of Deaf culture, Ben Bahan is an influential figure and community leader. See him perform his work "The Wolf Who Cried Sheep."

Deaf Focus presents: Ben Bahan Live!

Who is he?

Benjamin J. Bahan is a world-renowned storyteller, author, presenter, researcher, and a professor of ASL and Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University. He is known for his works in American Sign Language literature as a storyteller with his stories "The Ball Story", "Birds of a Different Feather", and “Bleeva: A Narrative of our Existence”; book – A Journey into the Deaf-World (1996) with Robert J. Hoffmeister and Harlan Lane.

Bahan was born to Deaf parents in New Jersey and attended Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf located in West Trenton, New Jersey. Later he attended Gallaudet University where he received his bachelor's degree in Biology in 1978. 

Afterward, he attended The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California where he researched American Sign Language linguistics and acquisition. Then in 1981, he moved to the San Francisco Bay area to collaborate with Joe Dannis on starting a new business called DawnSignPress, for which Bahan was vice president. Later he moved to Boston where he attended Boston University. There he received his master's degree in Deaf Education, as well as a doctorate degree in Applied Linguistics. 

During his studies at Boston University, Bahan helped operate the Deaf Studies Program in the School of Education. Additionally, he met his wife Sue Burnes at Boston University. Burnes, like Bahan, is Deaf and has Deaf parents as well. In 1996, he returned to Gallaudet as a professor and chair of the Department of ASL and Deaf Studies.

He is also an Executive Editor with Bauman and Melissa Malzkuhn of the Deaf Studies Digital Journal, the world’s first online, peer-reviewed academic and cultural arts journal to feature scholarship and creative work in both signed and written languages. Bahan co-wrote and co-directed the film Audism Unveiled (2008) with his colleague Dirksen Bauman as well as was instrumental in developing ASL videos for the Sign Language Book, "Signing Naturally". You don't wanna miss out on Ben's first-ever performance in Louisiana, right here in Baton Rouge!

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6:00 PM18:00




Deaf Focus' EatDrinkSign! is a unique dining experience where all the servers are Deaf and guests will be encouraged to order their food and drinks in sign language. This event, held on the National Deaf Awareness Week, will benefit our small non-profit organization in support of our continuing advocacy and essential services for our Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing friends in the community.

Many times the services we provide go unfunded and unpaid. The purpose of this event is to promote Deaf-Friendliness, showing our community that American Sign Language is an interactive, fun, culturally rich language available to everyone. This event is just one of our events that allows us to keep on advocating, thanks to the support of partners, sponsors, and the community.

EatDrinkSign’s last year 2017 clip

Driftwood Cask & Barrel, a hip and modern restaurant with a gastropub concept located in Downtown Baton Rouge with nearly 70 different kinds of beer including a huge selection of Louisiana brands, on tap. They have been gracious enough to close their restaurant for our event, and their Chef will be preparing an off-the-menu 3-course meal with a couple options for each course! Bonus: Josh Castille, Deaf Actor and native of Louisiana, will be our Host for this event!!!

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7:30 AM07:30

The 4th Annual Capital City Crush


Kingfish Disc Golf presents
The 4th Annual Capital City Crush - a benefit for I-LEEAD and Deaf Focus

TD: Ian Aymami / Dylan Schultz / Brandon Bourque / Derek Trahan / Ben Stage / Chris Pennington
Player Pool A - All Open divisions and Advanced Players
Player Pool B - All Other Players

Tournament central is at Scotlandville Park DiscGolfPark. 

Rounds: 2 rounds of 18 holes unless playoffs are needed. Second round will start after lunch (45 mins after the last card from the first round is completed)

Registration for this event will be capped at 90 entrants per player pool. In the event we meet the cap early on we could add some temp holes.

Pre-Registration: or
Contact Ian Aymami (225-266-9777 or 
Pre-registering is highly preferred on this one, as it will lighten our staff's load considerably. As an incentive, we will be providing player packs for the first fifty pre-registered Pool B players.

Shirts will be available for $4 this year. We have eliminated the 10% fee from the prize pool. Shirts will be the same high quality material from last years too.

Late Registration (If not sold out): 8:00-9:00 day of
Start Time: 9:30 Sharp Player Pool B
9:45 Sharp Player Pool A

Entry fees:
Professional: $54
Advanced: $44
Amateur: $34
Junior/Novice: $24

Lunch: TBD

Sanctioning: PDGA C-TIER
This tournament will take advantage of the PDGA’s Competition Endowment Program

Benefits of Program: 

This event is a PDGA Sanctioned C-Tier Event part of the Competition Endowment Program. As a fundraiser, payout will be as follows:

Charity Events: 

$2 PDGA per player fee is donated to the event charity and must be matched by the event
In addition to the matched $2 PDGA per player fee, 10% of the net entry fees will also be donated to event charity. 
Example: (Based on $24 Gross Entry Fee) 
$24 Gross Entry Fee
-2 PDGA Per Player Fee
-2 Player Fee Match
$20 Net Entry

$20 Toward Payout
$4 Charity Donation Per Player


Hole Sponsorships: $25
100% of hole sponsorships go to benefit

Other sponsorships are still open. Please contact me (Ian) via inbox, at 225-266-9777, or to receive the sponsorship letter or just discuss the opportunities we are offering.

Any and all questions or concerns about this tournament are up for discussion on this event page.


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