DeafCAN! , DEAF Community Action Network! is headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania and Northeast Philadelphia. We were established to serve the growing needs of Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind individuals in the Southeastern Pennsylvania region. We help the young and old who are often afraid, confused, isolated and shunned by their circumstances to be reached, listened to, understood, assisted, counseled so they can learn, grow, and give back to others in our community. Our focus and impact can be felt directly by hundreds of families who call this area home.
DeafCAN!’s vision is to be part of a community in which Deaf and hard of hearing people have equal access to all human services and opportunities so they can achieve their potential and have the highest quality of life possible.
DeafCAN!’s mission is to provide a range of community supports to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deaf-Blind and Late-Deafened people in need, especially the most vulnerable, who are often very reluctant to go to others for help because of communication barriers.
In 1991, a growing Deaf community formed Christ The King Deaf Lutheran Church in West Chester Pennsylvania led by Beth Lockard. Besides organizing a Church home to meet the spiritual needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HOH) people and their families in the area, this group started several support groups to address a full life of opportunities for the Deaf/HOH in the region including the Chester Co. Assoc of the Deaf, Chester Co. Self Help for Hard of Hearing, West Chester Deaf Seniors and the Deaf Women Connection.
In 2010, as a result of the unfortunate closure of CHAD, the Center on Hearing and Deafness, the deaf and hard of hearing community drew together to try and address the loss of social services in the region. Through the encouragement and initial funding by the South East Pennsylvania Synod and Calvary Lutheran Church, DeafCAN! was established as a community service program led by William and Beth Lockard.
DeafCAN! has grown in services and geographic coverage. In 2016 we merged with St. Philips Church of the Deaf in Northeast Philadelphia which enables us to expand our geographical footprint and reach out to more individuals and families. We serve individuals and families with an array of social services including interpreting, literacy, mental health, transportation, assistive technology, ASL classes and in the home assistance. Our three primary programs serve Deaf/HOH Immigrants & Refugees, Deaf-Blind individuals and those who are Deaf/HOH in our Criminal Justice System.
Our Core Values:
- Children and adults are more than their ears, eyes and mouths.
- Being Deaf or hard of hearing, or deaf-blind does not inhibit a person’s ability to achieve great things, nor does it predispose anyone to any limitations or negative positions in life.
- All communication preferences need to be respected and accommodated in order to maximize each person’s potential.
- Deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind people need to the leaders and decision makers in their own lives and in services provided for them.
- Deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind people need to have major roles in both volunteer and employment opportunities in services for/with other Deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind people.
Chester Co. Assoc of the Deaf
Chester Co. Self Help for Hard of Hearing
West Chester Deaf Seniors
Deaf Women Connection
Social service agency:
Center on Hearing and Deafness (“CHAD”)
All of the organizing meetings for these groups occurred at Christ the King Deaf Church and, with their birth, the spiritual, social, and social service needs of this population were finally addressed. Members of this previously isolated population could now worship, receive education and counseling, and be empowered through their own social organizations. The social service agency would take the next 16 years to build a broad range of literacy, mental health, criminal justice, assistive technology, interpreting, homeless prevention, and other services until hard times resulted in its downsizing in 2010, and closure in 2011. Those unfortunate circumstances led to D/HOH people returning to the church center they had come to trust. With the encouragement of the SE PA Synod and Calvary Lutheran Church, where CTK is housed, the decision was made to establish DeafCAN! (Deaf Community Action Network) to address the growing, unmet needs. In our first full year, 2011, 125 different individuals received a broad range of services and in 2018 we served 231 people:
- Ten Deaf employees with developmental disabilities had weekly literacy and socialization classes at a local workplace, Handi-Crafters.
- Twelve Deaf individuals in the criminal justice sytem were provided weekly literacy and decision making sessions.
- Thirty Deaf refugees/immigrants from Mexico, Syria, Bhutan, Cambodia, Nepal, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Democratic Republic of Congo were provided orientation, support and Sign Language instruction.
- Several victims of domestic violence and one homeless family were counseled and sheltered.
- Twenty five deaf-blind individuals were assisted through SSP services at their homes and within their communities.
- Fifty three people with case management through contracts with Chester and Delaware Counties to work across departments to support D/HOH people.
- One hundred and sixty seven people were provided Sign Language and Interpreting services.
- Many people and families were provided general information, referral and advocacy.