Sandia LabNews

Sandia computer scientist recognized for advocacy work in deaf and hard-of-hearing communities

Clint Stimpson named Employee of the Year by Careers & the disABLED Magazine

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LEADER AND CHANGE MAKER — Sandia computer scientist Clint Stimpson was recently awarded Employee of the Year by Careers & the disABLED Magazine for his commitment to advocacy and volunteerism in the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. (Photo courtesy of Clint Stimpson)

When many of us consider what it would mean to live with a disability, we often focus on the dis – the “without.” How would our world, our lives, our day-to-day be different without the ability, to do something?

While the without is certainly a part of Sandia computer scientist Clint Stimpson’s story, his ability to use his experience to help others in his community and lead by example is one of the many reasons he was recently awarded Employee of the Year by Careers & the disABLED Magazine.

“When I was three, I was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss. While not completely deaf, this meant I would have difficulty hearing and comprehending sounds and speech without an amplification device or hearing aids,” Clint said.

This diagnosis gives Clint a perspective into two communities – one that can hear and one that cannot. Existing in the middle might cause some to feel estranged, but this was not the case for Clint.

“Growing up in Idaho and later Colorado, I attended schools for deaf and hard-of-hearing students and more traditional public schools. I made friends, found support, gained mentors and found my way in both worlds. However, I realize this is not the case for everyone growing up in these same communities,” Clint said.

Clint’s own experience, paired with the knowledge that not everyone has the same support he had, has been a driving force behind his advocacy work within the deaf and hard of hearing community.

He authored a proposal that led to a successful effort in Rapid City, South Dakota, to introduce sign-language as one of the foreign languages taught in high schools. He has volunteered in Houston and Los Angeles where he helped teach sign-language and other subjects to deaf children. This work included a focused effort on helping deaf Latino immigrants with language delays.

Clint lives with his wife and their five children in Utah, where he takes an active role as a leader, mentor and dedicated volunteer working with his local deaf and hard of hearing community. He has spent more than a decade volunteering as a scout leader, engaging with deaf scouts and the children of deaf parents. He regularly visits Utah schools to teach deaf and hearing students about science, technology, engineering and math. He also helps high school students seeking to certify their sign language ability according to national proficiency guidelines.

Additionally, he helps businesses and community leaders create recorded content translated from English to American Sign Language. He also volunteers as a handyman for deaf residents and at schools for the deaf in and around his town.

At Sandia, Clint works on the Geometry and Meshing team. Before he became a full-time Sandian in 2019, he worked as a contractor.

“Working as a contractor, communications could be difficult, especially as a remote employee. Most meetings were over the phone, and it was hard for me to fully participate and comprehend what was being discussed,” Clint said. “But when I become an official Sandian, the technology made available helped foster an environment where I could succeed. Microsoft Teams has been of the most helpful tools, in large part thanks to its live-caption feature.”

Beyond the technology, Clint said the support of his team and manager, Michael Skroch, have been key to his success.

Likewise, Michael views Clint as key to his team’s achievements and to the larger Sandia mission.

It was Michael who nominated Clint as Employee of the Year for Careers & the disABLED Magazine.

“Clint’s can-do attitude for his work and customers is a trait that also shines through his various community contributions and volunteer work,” Michael said. “When I learned of this nomination opportunity I immediately thought of Clint because he embodies the ‘ABLED’ emphasis of the award. His proactive approach reminds of us of the larger workplace benefits achieved by Sandia’s accommodation of all abilities.”

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