Utah man honored for lifetime of work with people who are deaf

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TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – A man who has spent more than 40 years advocating for people who are deaf or hard of hearing was honored with an award Saturday.

David Mortensen has been deaf since the age of four, and his efforts have brought telephone relay services and a community center for the deaf to the area; he was presented with a Lifetime Advocate Award at the Sanderson Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Taylorsville Saturday.

According to a press release from Utah's Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Mortensen has also worked to make American Sign Language a course that can be recognized with college credit. He also worked toward certification standards for ASL interpreters.

Officials said before Mortensen’s efforts, people who are deaf couldn’t communicate their needs to lawmakers like other individuals could. Marilyn Call, director of Utah's Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, explained.

“I mean, their [those who are not deaf] advocacy is not blocked with their communication, so for a long time, deaf people had so much less access to our world, and Dave just decided, 'I'm going to make a difference,' and he started organizing deaf advocacy."

Mortensen was the first person who is deaf to earn a master’s degree in social work at the University of Utah.