Inspired by lack of representation, deaf teen publishes her own American Sign Language book

"My name is Khyiana Tate," she said in sign language.

Khyiana Tate is an 18-year-old senior in high school, about to get her driver's license. She's pretty excited about that.

She's also excited about this - her new book - "Signing with Khy."

"Black and brown individuals aren't always represented in books," she said. "Like I've seen other books and I wanted to see myself in a book - books that I like - that I like to read."

But she wasn't seeing herself - a person of color - in books about American sign language - so she made her own, with family and friends signing the alphabet. Even little brother MJ has some letters.

"Hearing people, deaf people, hard of hearing people, the community as a whole - anyone with friends and family, everyone can learn to sign, and we should," she said.

And - she says - don't be scared to try.

"No it's easy - it's easy," she said. "It'll be easy because they can look at my book and see pictures along with the alphabet - the words and the signs and it's all there - ready for them to learn to sign."

For Khyiana, this book - communicates more than that.

"It's really important that Black and brown people are seeing ourselves in our books and our language because it gives us inspiration and it makes us happy to be who we are," she said.

Khyiana's efforts are especially exciting for her interpreter on this day - Jackie Thompson - whose mother, sister, and niece are deaf.

"I'm so proud of Khyiana," Jackie said. "For her and for all the other young deaf girls and boys who really have so much to say and not enough opportunity or outlet to express themselves."

You might recognize Jackie from her many appearances interpreting for the mayor of Detroit during the Covid pandemic.

"You don't know isolation, now people understand isolation because of the pandemic," she said. "But people don't know isolation unless you've experienced it for real. Deaf people are in this world isolated without communication unless a person decides I want to talk to you."

Which is exactly what Khyiana is doing - talking to you - to us - and reaching out to the hearing world with a request that we try to learn to sign - and see deaf people like her, for who and all that they are.

"More than anything I  want people to know - the deaf can -deaf people can do just what any hearing person does, and that's what I want to see."

You can order "Signing with Khy" on Amazon - she'll also be at the African-American family book expo on February 19th in Southfield - and expect to see more from her in the future.

"I plan to write more books and next year you can look for one," she said.

To find out more or to order her book, CLICK the link here.