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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DEAF: THE FORGOTTEN COMMUNITY DURING COVID-19

8/22/2020

More than 90% of children who are deaf are born to hearing families and this difference creates a sense of isolation that can continue throughout life.  Many individuals who are deaf communicate primarily through a visual language, American Sign Language (ASL), with communication relying heavily on facial expression and mouth movements, which act as corollaries to the intonation and vocal emphasis that exists in spoken language. 

Most people are experiencing unprecedented social isolation because of the physical distancing measures that are required to minimize the spread of COVID-19.  This social isolation is compounded by barriers to effective communication and information access for people who are deaf, deaf-blind, or hard of hearing during this challenging time.  The necessary use of face masks to minimize the spread of the disease also compromises communication effectiveness for both spoken language and American Sign Language.  People rely on mouth movements to help with comprehension of spoken or signed language and face coverings reduce communication effectiveness.  In addition, people who are deaf or deaf-blind and use ASL as their primary language, struggle to get access to critical information about the disease and any safety orders that may be issued.  While those who are hearing can rely on news reports on the television or radio, many people who are deaf or deaf-blind cannot rely on these outlets.  Captioning and written English are not adequate methods for information access because of inaccuracies in captioning or limited English proficiency that is common for people in these groups

Imagine experiencing these months with COVID-19 in a “hearing world” where everyone is now wearing a mask that does not give you access to facial expressions or lip reading.

Imagine also, no timely access to information coming out, or to try to rely on information through the television’s closed captioning.  If you have ever tried to read the closed captioning on your television screen, you notice many inaccuracies, including misspellings, wrong words, delays in information, and at times, factually incorrect reporting.  And remember, ASL is not a literal translation to written English, rather, it is its own language.

Can you imagine how you might feel if you were deaf right now, trying to receive communication through closed captioning or by watching a hearing person wearing a mask attempting to communicate with you?  Or being a deaf person who asks a hearing person to remove his or her mask so you can try to understand what they are saying? 

In Ohio, 8 Community Centers for the Deaf (CCDs), serving all 88 counties in Ohio through 11 different locations serve the deaf population in Ohio by providing sign language interpreters, case management services, and job readiness and training.  Deaf Services Center has 3 of these locations serving Northwest, Southeast, and Central Ohio. Several months ago, at the onslaught of the Coronavirus, the CCDs developed a survey, asking our deaf community how they felt about available services and access to resources through this pandemic. 

One key question encountered by the CCDs during this process was how to reach our deaf community to even ask the survey questions.  Do we accomplish this best through social media, reaching out to CCD clients, some other method?  And if it is some other method, what is that?  Who are we not able to reach?  Understandably, those hardest to reach are those we really needed to hear from the most.

And then, how do we translate our written question into ASL and how can we get the survey to the hardest to reach in the deaf community?

The CCDs used all their available resources to reach as many deaf individuals as we could, and we received 144 responses to our survey questions. 

Of the respondents to the survey:

  1. 97% felt they had adequate access to reliable internet and/or Wi-Fi
  2. 87% had access to a home video phone
  3. 82% had access to a communication device (cell phone, tablet with a camera, home computer)
  4. 90% have had access to interpreting services
  5. 78% prefer live interpreting because of the clarify of the communication and the lack of reliability using video remote interpreting
  6. 86% indicated they had the personal protective equipment they need
  7. 95% felt “somewhat informed” or “well-informed” about Covid-19 (primarily accessed through the news or television)
  8. 73% watch the Governor’s briefings with the Certified Deaf Interpreter

Special thank you to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for providing Marla Berkowitz, (Ohio’s only Certified Deaf Interpreter) and Lena Smith and Christy Horne to provide immediate interpreting services to Ohio’s deaf during his press conferences and briefings. 

With 10% of Ohio’s general population experiencing a hearing loss,) equating to 1.1 million Ohioans) and recognizing we only received 144 total responses of deaf, deaf/blind and hearing impaired individuals in Ohio, it is highly likely those who responded are individuals with the greatest access to technology and other communication devices. It is those without access, we need to find a way to reach.

Additional next steps in this process as identified through the CCDs include:

  1. Establishing a more consistent way of gathering key information from the deaf community
  2. Better incorporation of the deaf/blind community in the process
  3. Stronger accessibility to the deaf and deaf/blind community, i.e. reaching those who are not connected through a device or do not have access to Wi-Fi or social media.
  4. More timely information gathering.
  5. Delivery of surveys and questionnaires in the community using Vlogs and ASL-signed videos rather than written surveys.
  6. When using written surveys, use plain language, understandable to most in the deaf community.

For more information on deafness and hearing loss, feel free to visit the DSC website at www.dsc.org . You can also find us on Facebook—Deaf Services Center – Columbus, Deaf Services Center – Portsmouth, and Deaf Services Center – NW Ohio.

 

A message from John Moore, CEO, Deaf Services Center:

3/16/2020

DSC recognizes that the situation related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) that is happening everywhere in the world is a cause for concern for our community. DSC really cares about the consumers, staff, associates, and businesses we work with and is monitoring the situation closely. Our agency is following protocols set forth from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local and state governments.

Starting immediately, (Monday March 16th), no meetings, classes or events will be held at the DSC offices for the foreseeable future. We will be using video meetings whenever possible including meetings by videophone when set up in advance. Until our offices are open once again, please use the following means to contact us for services:

For all Columbus interpreting needs please email all interpreting requests to interpreting@dsc.org. If your interpreting need is urgent please call 614-678-1701. For interpreting needs after hours please call our Dispatch at 614-323-1754.

For Columbus Community Services related to iCC, early intervention or case management, please contact TJ Veppert at tjveppert@dsc.org or 614-515-6074 VP

For Columbus Employment Services, please contact Hillary Allen at hallen@dsc.org

For general information regarding the Columbus office, please contact Cindi Nash, Executive Assistant to the CEO at cnash@dsc.org

For the DSC NW Ohio office please contact nwo@dsc.org or 419-720-3935 (phone number) or 419-386-2627 VP

For NW Ohio Interpreting Department please contact nwointerpreting@dsc.org or 419-720-3935

For the DSC Portsmouth office please contact dscp.interpreting@dsc.org or 740-357-7713

For questions concerning invoices, billing, or accounting please contact Melissa Potrikus at melissap@dsc.org

For information on Relay Ohio/711 and CapTel, please contact Marsha Moore at marsha@dsc.org

ASL classes are now available online through the Zoom platform. Summer sessions start the week of July 20 and go for 10 weeks. To register for an online ASL class click here.

DSC will continue to monitor the situation and tune in to the daily updates from the Governor. DSC will readdress the situation as needs arise and post any updates on this website.

Thank you!

Deaf Services Center Awarded $120,000 Training Grant

2/6/2020

OhioMHAS is pleased to announce that the Deaf Services Center (DSC) has been awarded a $120,000 training grant to provide Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. DSC and the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center’s Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, with support and collaboration from the Community Centers for the Deaf throughout the state are creating a unique, innovative and fundamental training for mental health agencies that will allow frontline employees as well as clinical staff to more effectively interact and serve clients who are deaf or hard of hearing. The training will provide information to ensure that clinicians are culturally competent to serve those with diverse communication needs, particularly those whose preferred mode of communication is American Sign Language (ASL). In addition to increasing awareness of the unique needs of this population, the goal of the project is to ensure that deaf individuals have equal access to mental health services and treatment programs by ensuring that service providers have the necessary information to deliver effective and proficient care. Project goals include basic ASL instruction to as well as live and video trainings. For more information, visit www.dsc.org.

 

Deaf Services Center, Inc. to Partner with Columbus Speech and Hearing Center to Provide Timely Transition of Vocational Services

12/5/2019

CONTACT John Moore, CEO Executive Director
COMPANY Deaf Services Center, Inc.
PHONE (614) 841-1991
EMAIL johnmoore@dsc.org
WEBSITE www.dsc.org

EMBARGOED FOR Immediate Release

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Columbus, Ohio, December 5, 2019 – Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing people in central Ohio can enjoy the benefits of two major non-profits coming together to provide Employment Services from one convenient location.

Deaf Services Center, Inc.(DSC) and Columbus Speech and Hearing Center (CSHC) have joined forces to provide career exploration, job application help, community-based assessments, job skills training, job development, coaching and retention to the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities in central Ohio. As of January 1, 2020, the two non-profit centers will be partnering together to provide transition of these services and more to Deaf Services Center at 5830 N High St. in Worthington, OH. This will allow DSC to provide employment services to individuals who are Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing and with other disabilities as provided by CSHC.

Since 1971, the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center has provided employment support services through their Careers for People with Disabilities program (originally the Comprehensive Program for the Deaf) and Deaf Services Center began offering employment services beginning in 2014. Both Centers are CARF accredited. For the past 5 years, both centers have been the primary locations for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind individuals seeking employment.

“Combining our talented team with DSC, will create a more robust program to serve the unique needs of individuals with disabilities. Further, narrowing our {CSHC} focus to our core services of Audiology, Hearing Aids and Speech Therapy, will allow us to better meet the needs of those living with hearing impairment or communication disorders and allow us to expand our geographic service area.” -James O. Dye, CEO, Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

“This is a first step to an outstanding partnership with the Columbus Speech and Hearing Center and will pave the way for future projects and partnerships benefitting the communities we serve.” – John L. Moore, CEO, Deaf Services Center

Established in 1991, Deaf Services Center, Inc. (DSC) empowers those faced with language barriers by promoting access to communication. Our resources help those who have hearing loss or are non-English users to fully access the English language in communicating with others. Headquartered in central Ohio, with satellite offices serving the northwest and southeast areas of the state DSC is the largest provider of services for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind in Ohio. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization, DSC works hard to empower the communities we serve. For more information, please visit our website at www.dsc.org.

Since its founding in 1923, Columbus Speech & Hearing Center has provided quality, patient-centered care for tens of thousands of people with communication challenges in the Columbus metropolitan area and beyond. The Center offers many unique services in the areas of speech-language pathology, audiology, vocational rehab and community education, and is proud to offer a warm and welcoming environment to all people. For more information, visit www.columbusspeech.org.

Jose Oyola, DSC’s assistant director of spoken language interpreting, recently made his debut on Telemundo Columbus. Watch the video below to learn some of the many ways DSC’s interpreting services can be used.

9/13/2019

English translation:

Luis: Good evening, it’s a pleasure to be here today with my good friend Jose Oyola. DSC what does it mean?

Jose: Deaf Services Center. It’s an agency that provides services with people that have hearing loss or are D/deaf.

Luis: But you also do an interesting job. You offer interpretation in different languages.

Jose: In the agency there is the Interpreting Department. We offer services in different languages such as Spanish, Arabic, French, and Somali any type of language you need we’ll provide services needed.

Luis: For example, I don’t speak English and received a ticket. I go to court, do you help me with that?

Jose: Yes, you have to contact the court and have them request an interpreter. We’ll be more than glad to send one over.

Luis: OK, another example: I’m sick I have to go to the doctor, or my mother is sick and she needs to inform the doctor what she needs but doesn’t speak English.

Jose: When you arrive at the doctor’s office they’ll have to request an interpreter and it’ll be our pleasure to provide someone that can help you.

Luis: On a personal level, I need to enroll my kids in school. I just came to the city and I don’t know, can you also help with that?

Jose: Yes, we are available to all the Columbus City Schools, we have a contract with them.

Luis: This is incredible! The contact information is on the screen. If you need help, Jose will help you.

Deaf Services Center to work with Lucas County 911 Emergency Services Center to prepare for encounters with people with communication barriers
11/14/18
https://www.dsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/OOD-Council-Appointments-Press-release.docxhttps://www.dsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/PR-DSC-NW-Nov-13-2018.pdf

Deaf Services Center CEO & Executive Director, John L. Moore, appointed by Ohio Governor John Kasich to the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Council
11/13/18
https://www.dsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/OOD-Council-Appointments-Press-release.docx

Deaf Services Center, Inc. to Partner with sComm to Provide the Medicare approved UbiDuo 2 SGD Communication Device to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumers in Ohio
11/13/18
https://www.dsc.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/sComm-Press-Release-DSC.docx