The History of 3 Bridges
Lloyd Wayne Bridges and Margie Lee Johnson met, fell in love and married in a small church in Guthrie, Oklahoma and then set forth in their young lives. Although graduates of the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, they would in time call Texas their home and their path would ultimately lead them to Austin. Through life long friendships and a passion for serving, the Bridges would help to change the culture of injustice and oppression toward deaf and hard of hearing individuals in Texas. This is their story and it is our history of how Texas became the model for equal access and deaf rights. Lloyd and Margie began the legacy of what is now known as 3 Bridges.
In early 1950’s, the young couple moved to Dallas for Lloyd to begin his training and Margie to continue her career as linotype operators. Back then, this was a trade considered very popular for deaf people. There weren’t too many open doors of employment in those times so in order for Lloyd to receive his International Typographical Union card (ITU), they moved to Munday, one of the Panhandle towns where Bobbie Beth Bridges was born. She is also deaf. When Lloyd finally became a bona fide printer, they moved to Terrell where they began their long careers with the Dallas Times Herald. Around this same time, their son Byron was born and it became Lloyd, Margie, Bobbie, and Byron, an all-deaf family.
Lloyd and Margie, in tow with two toddlers, joined Hampton Place Baptist Church in Dallas. In that time, the community church served as the center for deaf people. It was there they met individuals such as Jonnie Duncan, Betty Merritt and Mary Conner, all Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs). Lloyd and Margie taught them the nuances of interpreting for church services and eventually they ventured into community services. Betty, Mary, and Jonnie were already immersed with interpreting tasks, not fully aware that the seeds of professional interpreting have been sown. They volunteered their time at the church to learn more on how to interpret. Lloyd and Margie did not stop there as they continued to teach and train many other individuals, who went on to become successful sign language interpreters. Through their associations with these young interpreters, Lloyd and Margie became involved with the Texas Baptist Conference for the Deaf and the Southern Baptist Conference for the Deaf (SBCD). Lloyd later became president of both organizations.
Eventually, they moved to Irving, Texas joining First Baptist Church and there they met another interpreter by the name of Jim Scoggins. The partnership between Lloyd and Jim changed the course of history for deaf people in Texas. Having Jim as an ally helped to pave the way with his knowledge of business and leadership, which provided a much needed spark of momentum to help get TSID off the ground. The partnership between Jim and Lloyd was astounding, an awesome chemistry … together, they helped to remove many barriers experienced by deaf people in Texas. Through their efforts, the very first Teletype device for the deaf (TTY) in Texas was used between the Scoggins and the Bridges residence. This was the first telephone a deaf person could use in 1970. Pretty soon, more deaf people in Irving and throughout Texas had TTYs, making an inroad toward the goal of equal access.
Lloyd and Jim pushed tirelessly for several bills to be introduced to the State legislators in Austin. One bill that passed was for the establishment of the Texas Commission for the Deaf, (HB 1293 in June of 1971) the first commission of its kind America. TCD is now known as the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, (DARS). A big reason for the successful passage of this bill was due to the great number of deaf people in Irving who were passionate about helping Lloyd and Jim promote deaf rights. Jim provided bus and van rentals, out of his own pockets to make it possible for them to participate in the political process. They would drive down to Austin to meet with their State Representatives and for voting days. They informed legislators of the real need for community services and promoted the idea of more schools for deaf and hard of hearing children. Legislative testimonials were provided and many “one on one” meetings with state legislators were painfully done with pen and paper to ensure that those bills be heard.
Oddly enough, Lloyd’s grandchildren are all hearing but they have been immersed in the deaf world from a young age. The oldest, Kizzie Ann was born just weeks before her grandfather passed away. She worked as a sign language interpreter for several years before falling in love with a handsome deaf Italian man. She now lives in Rome, Italy and she has two sons of whom one is hearing and one is deaf.
The 2nd grandchild was Brandon Wayne. He too has worked as a sign language interpreter for many years. Brandon is married and has 3 children of whom all are hearing. He is the Owner/Manager of 3 Bridges Sign Language Services and he continues in the footsteps of service
Jesse was their third grandchild, and he’s followed the family passion for education. He earned a master’s degree in Learning, Design & Technology from Stanford and is the head of employee learning for Sir Richard Branson’s rocket company, Virgin Orbit. He’s also part of the SignLanguage101.com team. He lives in Long Beach, California with his husband.
3 Bridges was founded in honor of Lloyd Bridges and in the spirit of Jim Scoggins. Both men lived a life of serving others and were always fine with living in the shadows. Both men were such good friends because they humbly deferred to one another. This is our way of paying tribute to the great men and leaders of a movement that pushed the oppressing hand away. Had it not been for their service, sign language interpreting agencies such as our own might not be in existence. The 3 Bridges represents the 3 generations of service to the deaf community. Lloyd and Jim would have been proud.