Signed Ink, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to foster public appreciation of deaf representation in literature and to support the community of deaf people who create and promote them.
Signed Ink’s mission is to support the creation of quality children’s and adult books centered around authentic deaf voices, and/or by d/Deaf and hard of hearing authors and illustrators, so that deaf people everywhere have the deaf representation they deserve. To this end, Signed Ink raises funds creating scholarships and grants designed to support, nurture, and assist deaf writers and illustrators in their craft and to help them amplify and advocate for deaf representation in literature as well as reach their publishing goals.
We believe there is a great need for quality books by and for deaf people that celebrates and explores the vibrant and colorful deaf spectrum that exists in our global world. This simple belief guides everything we do. We are committed to breaking down barriers and opening doors for deaf creatives with a story to tell. By harnessing the collective power within our deaf community, we will make the publishing industry more inclusive and elevate the art of literature as well as bridge the gap between hearing and deaf cultures. We enthusiastically nurture, and amplify diverse deaf/Deaf/HOH voices as well as advocate for deaf representation in literature.
Our organization is:
A collective of D/deaf/hard of hearing creatives, authors and illustrators who write and/or illustrate books for children, teens, and adult audiences. We champion imagination and support all diverse forms of deaf-gain. We believe that there is no wrong way to be D/deaf or hard of hearing (HOH). Each individual has a unique and colorful journey and we champion each one. We believe it is a D/deaf person’s right to choose which tools they use to communicate with the world—be it a signed-language (like ASL), hearing aids, cochlear implants (CI’s), Signed English, or their voice(s) in written, oral, form, etc. We advocate the importance of providing D/deaf children with a full language that is accessible to them, one that prevents language deprivation, encourages literacy, and provides equal access to language and communication. We champion diverse D/deaf/HOH voices and culture(s) in literature and strive to educate the hearing and KidLit community about D/deaf/HOH experiences across the deaf gain spectrum. Through storytelling (words, illustrations, and signs) and individual advocacy, we stand to unite the gap between the hearing and the D/deaf and aim to provide resources for parents, librarians, and educators who aid in helping others understand D/deaf experiences and promote D/deaf literacy and learning. We wholeheartedly believe that D/deaf children deserve to see themselves in the pages of books—reinforcing how much they matter—that they are valuable, and that they are understood.
Angela Peña Dahle is the founder and president of Signed Ink, Inc.
She writes middle grade fantasy and historical fantasy novels, as well as picture books. Her articles are published in The Friend as well as School Library Journal. She is the recipient of the 2020 WNDB Walter Grant as well as a Las Musas Hermana and SCBWI member. When not writing she loves to: collect skeleton keys, paint with watercolor, seek out hidden gardens, and bake delicious fruit tarts.
Her favorite books are: The Secret Garden, Rooftoppers, Echo, Esperanza Rising, A Snicker of Magic, Rapunzel (by Barbara Rogasky), The Hundred Dresses, Quest (anything Aaron Becker), Tuesday, Drawn Together, Pish Posh said Hieronymus Bosch, Many Moons, and Angelina Ballerina to name a few. Some of her favorite illustrators are: Trina Schart Hyman, Rebecca Dautremer, and Lee White. One of her favorite jobs of all time (other than writing) was being a media clerk at an arts elementary school. Angela is passionate about the color blue, and lives in coastal FL amongst ancient live oak trees with her family, a husky doodle, and a brood of chickens.
Kerry O’Malley Cerra is the author of the award-winning, middle-grade novel Just a Drop of Water. Set in Florida, it tells the story of two boys and how their friendship is tested in the wake of 9/11. Her second novel, Hear Me, based on the author’s own hearing loss/deaf experience, is a contemporary middle-grade novel that follows 12-year-old Rayne who—at odds with her parents over her sudden hearing loss and looming cochlear implant surgery—sets off on a journey where she discovers that even though her ears may be broken, she is not.
Her first book received the Crystal Kite Award, a Florida Book Award, was named to Voya’s Top Shelf Fiction for Middle-Grade Writers, and holds a place on five state reading lists.
Kerry earned a degree in Social Science Education from the University of South Florida and currently works as a high school media specialist. Passionate about conservation, particularly the ocean, and even more specifically sharks, she spends much of her free time on the water. She continues to use her teaching skills in author presentations at schools across the country.
Though South Jersey/Philly was her first home, she currently lives in Florida with her family and two poorly behaved rescue dogs.
You can learn more about her and her books at: www.kerryomalleycerra.com
Carly Heath (she/they) earned her BA from San Francisco State University and her MFA from Chapman University. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Carly teaches design, art, theater, and writing for various colleges and universities. Her debut, The Reckless Kind (out Nov 9, from Soho Teen) has garnered enthusiastic reviews (including a starred review from BCCB) for its nuanced depiction of queer and disabled identities. To learn more about her or her books check out her blog at: https://www.carlyheathauthor.com
Lucy Rogers is a deaf freelance illustrator based in Oxfordshire, England. Before graduating with a degree in BA Hons Illustration at Falmouth University, Lucy was shortlisted for the Penguin Student Design Award of 2019 for her book cover of Wonder.
Since graduating, Lucy has been busy on picture books, book covers, book layout design and illustrations for design packaging. She has been a host for a series of illustration workshops for young deaf people. Lucy has also illustrated a book called The Quest for the Cockle Implant, published by the National Deaf Children’s Society, and since then the book was translated into British Sign Language on ITV Signed Stories.
Lucy is also an aspiring author who seeks positive change through her stories and illustrations by inspiring young deaf people and many other unrepresented children in the publishing industry. Her website is: https://www.lucyrogersillustration.com
Alison Gervais began writing at the age of five and gained recognition by posting her work on Wattpad in 2011. She graduated with a degree in English from Colorado State University – Pueblo in 2017 and went on to publish two Young Adult novels: In 27 Days, and The Silence Between Us. Alison also grew up Hard of Hearing and enjoys choosing vibrant colors for her hearing aid. She currently resides on the East coast with her husband, their daughter, two cats, and one mischievous German Shepherd. When not writing, Alison works at the local Center for Independent Living, a non-profit organization run for and by individuals with disabilities. To learn more about her and her books, please visit: http://alisongervais.com
Cece Bell lives in an old church in Virginia and works in a new-ish barn right next door. She met her husband, writer Tom Angleberger, at the College of William and Mary, where they were both art majors. Cece went on to get a graduate degree in illustration and design at Kent State University. Cece became a full-time author and illustrator after many years working as a freelance illustrator and designer for all kinds of nutty projects. Her books include the Newbery Honor and Eisner-winning graphic novel El Deafo, the Geisel Honor-winning Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, Rabbit & Robot and Ribbit, I Yam a Donkey, Bee-Wigged, Itty Bitty, and the Sock Monkey series. She has also created books with Tom, including Crankee Doodle and the Inspector Flytrap series. Her website is: https://cecebell.wordpress.com
Molly Shaffer is an author, teacher, blogger, YouTuber, and soon to be podcaster. She writes a variety of different types of books: quirky picture books, humorous sci-fi middle grade, authentic young adult, and sweet romances. Her website can be found at: https://www.mollyshaffer.com
Adam Pottle was born in Kamloops, British Columbia, and I lived in Ashcroft, Kitimat, and Prince George before moving to Saskatoon, where he currently lives.
He was educated at the University of Northern BC (BA, 2006; MA, 2008) and the University of Saskatchewan (PhD, 2016).
He was born deaf in both ears, and this sensory calibration helped him become a writer by stoking his imagination and lending him a unique relationship with language.
The writers who’ve had the most influence on him include Mordecai Richler, John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison, Elie Wiesel, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Albert Camus, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Van Camp, Brad Fraser, and Margaret Laurence. His website can be found at: https://adampottle.com
Sheena McFeely was born in Hong Kong to an Irish father and Asian-European mother. Upon her parents’ discovery of Sheena’s profound hearing loss, America called their names. In California, Sheena attended an oral school learning how to speak and hear sounds. At the age of 10, her hearing parents realized that was not working at all. Sheena was then transferred to a Deaf program called TRIPOD where she learned American Sign language (ASL).
Being Deaf, an immigrant straight out of Hong Kong, and small in stature did not stop Sheena McFeely from being who she is today. An author, a creator, motivational speaker, and momma. When Sheena gave birth to her second daughter Ivy who is hearing, she created ASL Nook with her family in hopes to spread sign language to everyone. Five years and over fifty episodes later, ASL Nook has generated millions of views.
Thanks to ASL Nook’s successes, Sheena’s family has been on The Nate Berkus Talk Show, in a viral sensation Disney commercial, and A&E’s TV pilot Deaf Out Loud. Sheena’s work also received acclaims from media such as Kickstarter, Austin Woman Magazine, UpWorthy, The Huffington Post, Mental_Floss, Deaf People, and Ability Magazine. To learn more about Sheena and her books please visit: https://sheenamcfeely.com
Anna Sortino is a Deaf and passionate about diverse representation in media. She currently lives in Southern California, where she enjoys exploring beaches and mountains with her dog or reading on the couch with her cat.
She has a Master’s in Writing & Publishing from DePaul University, as well as a Bachelor’s in Film & Media Arts from American University. She’s volunteered as a Pitch Wars mentor for emerging writers You can find her on Twitter and Instagram as well as at her website.
Her book, Give me a Sign, is set for publication by Putnam Children’s in 2023!
Literary Representation: Kari Sutherland, KT Literary Agency
Sara Novać is the author of the novel Girl at War (Random House, 2015), which won an American Library Association Alex Award, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, and is available in thirteen more languages.
Her nonfiction project America is Immigrants, short illustrated biographies of Americans hailing from all 193+ countries is also available from Random House. Her second novel, True Biz, is forthcoming in 2022.
Sara holds an MFA from Columbia University, where she studied fiction and literary translation, and lives in Philadelphia.
Mindy Alyse Weiss is a glitter-loving kid at heart who loves viewing the world through a child’s eyes. Writing, reading, and hanging out with other book-loving people is her air. She’s written tons of humorous picture books and middle grade novels, but has learned to tap into the challenging parts of her life so she can spread sunshine and hope…and show kids they aren’t alone.
She’s the host of #PBParty and co-host of #PBFest. She also loves being an SCBWI volunteer. She lives in Florida with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog and cat. She adores animals and would adopt every homeless one if she could. She also loves chatting with other book-loving people on Twitter and Facebook…and seeing their adorable pet photos!
Literary representation: Joyce Sweeney at The Seymour Agency.
Sydney Langford (they/them) is a nonbinary, Deaf-Hard of Hearing, and physically disabled authro who resides in Portland, Oregon. Their biggest passion in life is creating stories that reflect the diverse world we live in whether that be rom-coms about quirky, disabled teens; or contemporaries that celebrate inclusivity. Sydney can be found online at: https://www.slangwrites.com
Sydney is represented by Laurel Symonds at The Bent Agency.
Samantha Baines is an award-winning comedian, actress, broadcaster, hearing aid wearer and author of Harriet Versus the Galaxy. She likes to keep busy and you may have seen her keeping busy in acting roles in Netflix’s The Crown, Call the Midwife, Silent Witness or Magic Mike Live (directed by Channing Tatum). If you don’t like watching things, you may have heard her keeping busy presenting on BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Kent, Virgin Radio, hosting Q and A’s at the BFI or hosting her award nominated podcast The Divorce Social.
If you don’t like watching or listening then you must like reading surely! Samantha has written for publications including The Guardian, Time Out, Huffington Post, Stylist Magazine, The Pool, Standard Issue and has a column in Modern Woman Magazine. Samantha’s debut children’s book Harriet Versus the Galaxy was listed in the Independent’s Best Children’s Books of the Year 2019, Book Trust’s Great Book Guide 2020 and won the Coventry Inspiration Book Award 2021. Samantha’s second children’s book The Night the Moon Went Out was released in August 2021, published by Bloomsbury and has been nominated for The People’s Book Prize.
Samantha is also proud to be an Ambassador for Royal National Institute for Deaf people, is a Phonak HEARo and has spoken to MPs at the House of Commons about hearing issues, as well as fronting the RNID cinema subtitles campaign.
Jenna Fischtrom Beacom is a longtime deaf activist and advocate, who has a special interest in deaf representation in the media, including co-founding #DeafInMedia. She is also a sensitivity reader who has worked with all of the major publishers as well as several movie studios, video game creators, and more. She holds a Master’s degree in Deaf Education, and recently finished writing the YA novel she wishes she’d had when she was a newly deaf teenager. She lives in Columbus, Ohio.
Bri Baranowski is a California girl loving the Iowa way of life! She is an ELL teacher and MG author. Brianna was born Hard of Hearing (bilateral cookie bite), but wasn’t diagnosed until her early 30s when masks were first introduced. She chooses to wear hearing aids and is learning ASL. She is an Author Mentor Match Mentee for Round 9, and is currently revising her MG debut. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram.
As a child who grew up with a profound hearing loss and a wild imagination, Jill Watson loved to escape into books. There weren’t any deaf—or partially deaf—kids in any of them. Did other kids like her exist? The Magnificent Rolling Roxie is Jill’s first #ownvoice middle-grade project. It’s about a spunky hearing-impaired fifth grader who catapults herself—and her classmates—over any obstacles that stand in their way. It won a 2020 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Rising Kite Award.
Joyce Sweeney of The Seymour Agency is her amazing agent. She’s worked on both the editing and marketing sides of publishing, and is now doing what she loves best—writing for children. When she’s not at her laptop you can find her dancing on her roller skates, raising butterflies, and eating way too many Pepperidge Farm Brussels cookies.
Kathyrn Faye is a pseudonym for a husband and wife co-writing team. Presently they are writing upper middle grade fiction that treads the darker surface of fantasy, and grey morality. They also have a middle grade novel that features dragon hatchlings going on adventures as they learn about their world.
Katherine Jennings (not pictured) writes middle grade novels and is a 2021 Write Mentor Mentee. She is currently working on her first book, Emily and the Cartoon Time-Traveling Dragon. When she’s not up at 3 a.m. writing, you can find her watching cartoons with her husband, or at a rock concert. She can be found on Twitter.
Brittany Castle (no photo) is a Deaf graphic artist and illustrator. Visit her website.
Kimberley (no photo) is a library geek, hard-of-hearie, ASL fan, CG Auxiliarist, and bugler. She is the proud author of A Handful of Spells (Savvy Press 2014). She can be found on Twitter, here.
A. Shettle (no photo) is passionate about social justice, and can be found online at Rambling Justice.
Kristin L. Gray Is the author of Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book. the all-new The Amelia Six: An Amelia Earheart Mystery, and the picture books Koala is Not a Bear, and Rover Throws a Party: Inspired by NASA’s Curiosity on Mars. She lives in Arkansas with her family, dogs, cat, and pet lizard. Her first novel was called “a humorous poignant, realistic debut story,” buy Kirkus. She can be found at kristinlgray.com as well as on Twitter at: @kristinlgray
Kathleen L. Brockway is a Deaf content curator, researcher, and non-fiction author. She has published two books: Baltimore’s Deaf Heritage, and Detroit’s Deaf Heritage. She is on Twitter, and can be found at Heritage ASL
Dalton Webb (he/him) is a Deaf and hard of hearing illustrator and author living in the Pacific Northwest. he is currently writing and illustrating picture books, along with other ideas percolating in his brain. He has illustrated for magazines, comics, and games. When not pushing pencil on paper he’s digging in the garden, volunteering for SCBWI, getting lost in used bookstores, and riding scooters. check out his work at DaltonDraws.com.