| Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Melissa Malzkuhn

White woman, blue shirt, with shoulder length blonde hair, gentle smile.
Washington D.C.,
United States

Melissa Malzkuhn is an activist, academic, artist, and digital strategist with a love for language play, interactive experiences, and community-based change. She founded and leads creative research and development at Motion Light Lab, at a Gallaudet University research center. The Lab uses creative literature and digital technology techniques to create immersive learning experiences- from storybook apps that have been translated into over 20 international languages to motion capture projects that build signing avatars- all of which expand the 3D experiences for deaf children, visual learners, and more. Melissa is a cofounder of CREST Network, focusing on equity and inclusion of deaf people in sign language technology. Her production company Ink & Salt developed an app to teach American Sign Language, The ASL App, which has been downloaded over 3 million times. Third-generation Deaf, she has organized deaf youth and worked with international deaf youth programs, fostering leadership and self-representation. Now, she collaborates with teams in different countries to support literacy development for deaf children and collaborates with multiple organizations. Melissa started a campaign, Hu - To Sign Is Human, through screen printing to continue positive advocacy for language access for all deaf children. Her work has been recognized nationally and internationally. She is an Obama Fellow, inaugural class 2018, and has been recognized as a leading social entrepreneur by Ashoka, in 2020. She resides in Maryland with her family.