Continued: Leading man
A personal commitment
Williams and his wife, Sherry, who teaches at the School for the Deaf in Spartanburg, S.C., are keenly aware of the lack of resources for the deaf. They are parents to six children, four of whom are adopted, and deaf.
"When our two children were nearly grown, we realized we could make a direct impact on the lives of several deaf children," he says. "Some of the challenges for the deaf in South Carolina, as in most states with rural areas, is that there is no sign language interpreter in hospital emergency rooms.
"Sometimes you have deaf people sitting in psychiatric hospitals for 20 or 30 years, and they may or may not know why they are in there if no one can communicate with them."
A national leader, research advocate
Exciting things are happening for the deaf at the national and international levels, Williams says. The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors has a special working group on deafness, and Williams is a member of that group. He also is one of only two representatives from the United States for the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership Task Force on Deafness.
But Williams wants to do more. And that's why he's at South Carolina.
"More and more, I was seeing a lack of research in the field of deafness and mental health," he says. "That's why I want to get a Ph.D. and add to that body of research."