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She grew up in a home where there was no speaking, yet plenty of communicating.

“For me it wasn’t different. I actually didn’t start talking until I was about 4½,” Tabitha Allen-Draft said.

Draft grew up as the only hearing person in her family.

Her parents, younger sister and her grandparents are deaf.

Sign language is the first language Draft learned.

She is using that skill to advocate for the needs of deaf people.

Draft is the owner of Hands That Speak American Sign Language Services and works as an interpreter in schools, hospitals, and courts.

“It’s really making sure that they’re understood and that their message is being conveyed and that they understand what’s being said to them,” she said.

Earlier this year, Draft launched CODA Connections, Inc., which focuses on helping children of deaf adults (CODA) and their families.

“We do a lot of social activities and we’re just really wanting to bridge those communication gaps, raise awareness in the community,” she said.

She also teaches the children sign language.

Draft was recognized as one of the 2020 Triad Business Journal 40 Under 40 award recipients.

“Honestly, that award that I received was not just for me,” she said.

“That award that I carry is for deaf parents, deaf children, CODAs and letting them know that you can really do and be anything.”