DeafCAN! recently had an interview with Taking the Initiative. If you would like to see the whole video, please go to http://takingtheinitiative.com/index.php/archive/2014-2/and view “9-23 & 9-26 Deaf Community Action Network” under the Archives tab.
In 1991, key members of a budding Deaf congregation, formed Christ The King Deaf Lutheran Church in West Chester, PA. Besides organizing a church home to meet the spiritual needs of Deaf and hard of hearing (D/HOH) people and their families, this small group was the catalyst for starting multiple other groups to address a full life of opportunities:
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 2012 and 2013, 169 people were served, and in 2014 199 people. In 2015, we served 219 people:
- Twelve Deaf employees with developmental disabilities had weekly literacy and socialization classes at a local workplace, Handi-Crafters.
- Ten Deaf inmates at the maximum security Graterford State Prison were provided weekly literacy and decision making sessions.
- Twenty three Deaf refugees/immigrants from Mexico, 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 nine deaf-blind individuals from 7 different counties were assisted through voluntary SSP services at socials and meetings to establish formal services in 2014.
- Fifty three people with case management through contracts with Chester & Delaware Counties to work across departments to support D/HOH people.
- One hundred and fifty eight people were provided Sign Language & Interpreting services.
- Many people and families were provided general information, referral & advocacy.
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.
Help to build fully accessible services across all social service arenas for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals and their families.
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.