Area: Natural History
B.A., Gallaudet University of Liberal Arts, Washington, D.C., 1972
Liliane Lortie began her career at the ROM in 1972 as a technician in the Mammalogy Department. She continues to work as a mammalogy technician in the Department of Natural History, where she labels newly prepared specimens, installs them into the collections, and prepares loans of mammal specimens being sent to other institutions.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Liliane was found to be deaf at around three years of age. As a result, her formal education did not begin until she was seven years old, when she went to a residential school for the deaf in Belleville, Ontario. She excelled in her studies during her 14 years there, and graduated as class Valedictorian in 1966. At Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., she majored in Library Sciences for the first year and then changed her major to Biology. She was hired by the ROM shortly after her graduation.
Liliane was actively involved in the deaf community for over 30 years. From 1976-1980, she was a volunteer anchorwoman for "Quiet 30," a program on Rogers Cable TV that signed to the deaf for 30 minutes a day. This program was gradually replaced with closed captioning, and in 1980, Liliane was one of the six founding members of Ontario Closed Captions (OCC). She was part of a delegation that went to a Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) hearing in Ottawa to present the deaf community's feelings about closed captions. In 1978, she was one of the founders of another organization, the Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf (OCSD), a branch of the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, and she was a member for five years. The OCSD now has its own museum, the Deaf Culture Centre (DCC), which opened in Toronto in May, 2006.
Many times during her career at the ROM, Liliane has provided signed tours to groups of deaf students, who have been thrilled to see the horn and antler room and to see and learn about the physical characteristics of bats and other fur-bearing mammals, as well as the huge bones of whales, hippos, rhinos. Liliane is part of a new ROM initiative to make the Museum more accessible to the general public, including the deaf. She has made three signed podcasts for the ROM (see below), and through her involvement in this initiative has realized the potential for the deaf to use podcasts to raise public awareness and minimize misunderstanding of deaf issues through education and entertainment. She sees podcasts, and the handheld devices they are downloaded to, as a valuable tool for the deaf, though currently deaf people believe that this technology is only useful to the hearing public. She hopes that will change in the near future.