Our Story & About Us

ID: Melissa Elmira Yingst, Martise Colston, Noel King, Amanda Tuite and Makoto Ikegami are pictured in a montage of clips introducing Signed By Stories. Melissa has short brown hair and is wearing a long-sleeved gray shirt. Martise is wearing a short-sleeved, black shirt with a black hat. He has black hair. Noel is wearing a long-sleeved black shirt and has shoulder-length black-brownish hair. Amanda has shoulder-length, wavy brown hair and is wearing a long-sleeved blue sweater. Makoto is wearing a short-sleeved blue shirt and has short, black hair. The Signed By Stories logo is pictured at the end. A blue-outlined thought bubble has “Signed By” written in dark blue cursive at the top and “Stories” written in plain, dark blue font below it on a yellow background. Beneath the word Stories is a light blue palm facing upwards. There are short lines in red, orange, and yellow surrounding the bubble.

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ID: Emma is a White woman pictured with long, curly blonde hair. She is pictured standing outside wearing a gray, floral dress. There is a tree and grass in the background.

Meet the Founder

Emma Hunt


Emma founded Signed By Stories to bring public attention and awareness to the lack of effective, linguistically accessible and culturally affirmative mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing people. She is a child of deaf adults (CODA) and a fierce mental health advocate for the Deaf community.


Emma graduated in 2019 from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in psychology. She works as Manager of the Cross Cultural Innovation and Engagement Task Force under the Office of Strategy & Impact at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and has a passion for working to create equitable, accessible mental health services for marginalized and underserved communities. She enjoys reading, museum-hopping, taking on Deaf advocacy projects and meeting new people!


Meet Emma!

Meet Emma!

ID: Emma is a White woman with long blonde, curly hair. She is wearing a white, oversized button-down sweater. The walls behind her are white and there are two windows in the background. One has a floor lamp to the right of it. There is a green string of lights on the wall to the right of her.

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Meet the Advisory Board

The Signed By Stories advisory board members share drive, lived experience, understanding and appreciation for the long road towards achieving appropriate mental health services for deaf and hard of hearing people. The team’s diverse skill sets, identities, and abilities demonstrate that storytelling can serve as a powerful healer and support for any deaf person.


Each one of our team members is personally and professionally committed to the improvement of mental health care for all deaf people. They have lived through mental health conditions and challenges just like their hearing counterparts and received little to no helpful support, all because of how they communicate. Through storytelling, their shared goals and perseverance in advocating for the specialized services that they need have evolved into an organization: Signed By Stories.

Melissa Yingst

ID: Melissa is a Latina woman with dark brown-black hair. She is pictured smiling and wearing a long-sleeved, denim button up shirt. There is a brick wall in the background.

Martise Colston

ID: Martise is a Black man with short-trimmed black hair and black facial hair. He is pictured signing in a light green T-shirt. There is a dark green curtain in the background.

Makoto Ikegami

ID: Makoto is a Japanese-American man with short black hair and facial hair. He is pictured smiling and wearing a light blue button up with a yellow tie and black suit jacket. The background is set in nature.

Amanda Tuite

ID: Amanda is a White woman with long, wavy brown hair. She is pictured smiling and is wearing a black suit jacket. The background is grey/brown.

Ashlea Hayes

ID: Ashlea is a Black woman with black hair. She is pictured wearing a black T-shirt and posing with her chin resting on her hand. The background is patterned with white, brown, and green colors.

Noel King

ID: Noel is a Korean-American adoptee cisgender womxn with short black hair, highlighted with blonde. She is pictured wearing a black top and black glasses. The background is green.

Meet Melissa!

Meet Melissa!

ID: The opening title card has an orange background with yellow, green, blue and red graphics. The title text is written in dark blue. The video shows Melissa, a Latina woman, wearing a gray, long-sleeved cardigan with a black undershirt. She has shoulder-length brownish-black hair and is wearing silver hoop earrings. The wall behind her is white.

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Meet Makoto!

Meet Makoto!

ID: The opening title card has an orange background with yellow, green, blue and red graphics. The title text is written in dark blue. The video shows Makoto, a Japanese-American man with black hair wearing a black T-shirt with the words “Kindness” and “Peace” written in red and orange text on the front of it. The walls in the background behind him are gray and there is an abstract painting on the wall behind him. To Makoto’s right is a brown curtain with living room furniture in front of it.

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Ashlea Hayes - Introduction Video BCC.mp4

Meet Ashlea!

ID: The opening title card has an orange background with yellow, green, blue, and red graphics. The title text is written in dark blue. Ashlea is a Black woman with long black hair and a silver nose ring. She is wearing a long-sleeved, purple sweater with a black shirt underneath. The background behind her is black. There is a white table to her left.

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Meet Martise!

Meet Martise!

ID: The opening title card has an orange background with yellow, blue, green and red graphics. The title text is written in dark blue. Martise is a Black man with black facial hair. He is wearing a black, backwards baseball cap and a short-sleeved, black shirt with the text, DEAFinitely Dope on the front in white. The wall in the background behind him is white.

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Meet Noel!

Meet Noel!

ID: The opening title card has an orange background with light blue, yellow, teal and red graphics. The title text is written in dark blue. Noel King is a deaf queer Korean-American adoptee cisgender womxn with long black hair. She wears a black, long-sleeved cardigan. She sits and faces the camera. There is a light purple wall in the background.

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The Logo Designer

The Logo Designer

Meet Youmee!

ID: Youmee is an Asian woman in her early 30s. She has medium/length black hair and is wearing a magenta shirt. The walls behind her are white and there are string lights hanging. There is a green floor plant to her left.

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The Story Behind Our Name

The Story Behind Our Name

ID: Noel King is a deaf queer Korean-American adoptee cisgender womxn with long black hair. She wears a long-sleeved purple shirt and the wall in the background behind her is white. A small title appears at the beginning of the video: “The Story Behind Our Name!” is written in dark blue text against a light blue text box.

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Share Your Story

Share Your Story!

Want to share your mental health story with us?


ID: [On-Screen: “Want to Share Your Story?” is written in dark blue text within a light blue text box]. Emma is a White woman with long, curly blonde hair. She is wearing a zip-up sweater that has a black, white, and gray-striped pattern. The walls behind her are white and there is a standing lamp in the background to the left of her. At the end of the video, Emma points to the email address displayed on-screen. [On-Screen: “submissions@signedbystories.com” is written in dark blue text within a light blue text box].

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