Recent Deaf Studies, Deaf Education grad publishes ASL children’s book

Recent deaf studies and deaf education graduate Shay Stegemann '21, best known by her pen name Shay Abigail, has published a children’s book focused on American Sign Language and the deaf community titled “My Name is Maya.”

In the book, the main character Maya leads the reader through adventures of her everyday life being a young deaf person. From drawing and playing outside to dancing around in silly costumes, Maya doesn’t let her hearing difference stop her from being herself. Shay-abigail2

Abigail said her inspiration for the book came just after meeting a young deaf girl while volunteering at a camp for children with disabilities. “I met her when I was in high school and she was the first deaf child I met,” she said. “She is the one who inspired me to learn ASL and advocate for communication access.”

With the help of her mother and Lamar University ASL faculty like professor Joseph Mann, Abigail was able to get the book published just days before she was set to graduate, “I wrote this book with adults and children in mind and I hope that ‘My Name is Maya’ will encourage its readers to learn more about ASL and the deaf community.”

This fall, she plans to put her focus into teaching DeafDisabled learners at an elementary school in the Beaumont area, but says her days of authorship are far from over, “I have every intention to write more children’s books for that focus on diversity, acceptance and inclusion. As a hearing person, my goal is to guide those interested in ASL and the deaf community to learn from deaf and hard of hearing individuals.”

“My Name is Maya” will become available for purchase on starting June 30, 2021.