Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN)

May 10, 2005 - DEAF, Inc. is pleased to announce that Stephanie Clark has been appointed to the position of Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN) Regional Specialist. CEPIN is a new program funded by a grant received from Telecommunications for the Deaf, Incorporated (TDI). The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded TDI nearly $1.5 million in a two-year project, called CEPIN, in developing model community education programs for Deaf and hard of hearing consumers. TDI will coordinate efforts by specialists in four centers throughout the US in promoting emergency preparedness.

The CEPIN Project goals are to reduce America1s vulnerability to terrorism by providing coordination and oversight of accessibility resources and services in emergency preparedness, homeland security, and public safety. The project1s goal is to empower individuals nationwide, who are Deaf or hard of hearing to work alongside their neighbors before, during and after a crisis, preventing and minimizing damage and promoting faster recovery.

CEPIN's main objectives are to increase opportunities for outreach, training, information and referral, and empowerment for various stakeholders across America. Stakeholders include the constituencies that TDI and four centers serve: Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing, and Late- Deafened people. CEPIN hopes to increase interaction by these primary stakeholders with first responders in the community such as the fire department, police department, paramedics, 911/public safety answering points and organizations such as the American Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies. Other stakeholders include government officials, employers, businesses and volunteer groups.

As the new Regional Specialist, Stephanie will cover fifteen states within the Great Lakes and New England area (serving CT, DE, IL, IN, MA, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, and WI).

Stephanie will conduct emergency preparedness outreach, training, networking, and empowerment for consumers who are Deaf, DeafBlind, Late Deafened and Hard of Hearing. She will develop collaborative relationships with first responders, organizations, agencies, and public officials on the local, regional, and state level in preparation for, coping with and/or recovery from natural disasters or manmade calamities. For the first few months of this project, Stephanie will be acquainting herself with and focusing on outreach, networking, and collaboration, with an ultimate goal of providing workshops in the fall of 2005.

She brings a strong background in advocacy and public presentation skills with an M.Ed. degree in Instructional Design from the University of Massachusetts-Boston and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Salem State College. Stephanie worked for the Massachusetts Statewide Enhanced 9-1-1 program as a TTY/instructor in the mid-1990s and is familiar with various emergency programs concerning interpreters and agencies in the area.

Stephanie will work out of the DEAF, Inc. office as her home base and can be reached via email at or via phone at 617-254-4041 (TTY/V). For more information and resources, visit the TDI web page.

Source: GA-SK News Magazine, Volume 35, No. 3.

Deaf, Hard of Hearing, DeafBlind Parents Support Group

September 7, 2004 - DEAF, Inc. received a grant from the Children1s Trust Fund for the fiscal year 2005. This grant will provide 23 bi-weekly workshops for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind parents with children aging from birth to 6 years old who live in the Greater Boston community.

The topics we will cover include:

  • Nutrition
  • Depression
  • Leaving children alone in the car
  • Lead paint and its effects
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome
  • Choking and basic first-aid
  • Facts about childhood immunizations, and much more!


The materials we will use mostly will be visual aids and information from these materials will be interpreted from English to American Sign Language to allow our consumers full access, as well as to best enable them participation in the discussion of informational literature. For Deaf-Blind parents, materials will be printed in Braille as often as possible. In addition, when materials are not in Braille, the skills trainer will use a tactile interpreting method to allow Deaf-Blind parents access to all materials.

Our Skills trainer herself is a native Columbian, a Deaf mother, a former DEAF, Inc. consumer, and is fluent in American Sign Language. Her background and approach are in accordance with DEAF, Inc.''s policy of providing services that are sensitive to the cultural, linguistic, and socio- economic background of our target population.

The workshops run from August 2004 until June 2005. Please call ahead to find out when the next workshop will be held and the topic we will be discussing.

All workshops are provided free of charge and staff will watch your children while you attend the workshop. Light refreshments will be provided. The workshops are held at DEAF, Inc., 215 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134.

For more information about the workshops please contact Kendra Timko-Hochkeppel at (617) 254-4041 TTY/V or email her at


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Learning Opportunities for Deaf Adults

January 30, 2004 - Learning Opportunities for Deaf Adults: Deaf immigrants have door of opportunity through Adult Basic Education classes in Boston - Written by: William Pendlebury, SIGNews Writer

There are several Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs around the country and one of them is based in Allston, MA. The purpose of this class is to help a number of deaf adults obtain their GED. The majority of those ABE students lack the proper English and basic living skills because they were born outside of the United States. In Allston, DEAF, Inc. and the Jackson Mann Community Center (JMCC) have been collaborating through a five- year grant from the Massachusetts Department of Education to provide all of the necessary resources and support for the ABE Class. This class helps students enhance their basic educational skills before they can transfer to pre-GED classes with interpreter services.

All ABE Classes take place on-site at DEAF, Inc. where the students work with Instructor Arlene Velleman. Five different subjects (English, History, Math, Science, and Reading) are regularly covered in classes two nights per week. When explaining her responsibilities as an instructor, Velleman states, "I am here to help guide the students and help them achieve basic skills related mainly to reading and writing. All of the subjects such as History and Science require good reading and writing skills." She is a certified teacher and fluent in sign language.

Velleman is currently teaching three students: Michaelle "MI" Ignace, Anny Baez and Darline Durogene. All three of them relocated to the Boston area after being born and raised in Caribbean countries. Like all ABE students in the past, Ignace, Baez and Durogene are striving for better lives. When the students were asked why they decided to participate in the ABE program, they all asserted that they have desire to improve their English skills and work toward their GED. Currently, there are several open slots in the ABE class for additional students.

During each session, the students assemble at a table in front of a blackboard as Velleman instructs them. Karen Malloy, a Northeastern University student majoring in ASL, volunteers as a teacher's aide in half of the classes. Most of the time, she does one-on-one with the students, especially for writing skills assistance. Like many other teachers, Velleman touches each subject with lectures and in-class assignments. She utilizes visual communication to emphasize relevant points more frequently than most other teachers. For example, Velleman routinely uses expressive signing to keep the students focused and interested. "It is very important that I motivate the students because they are adults and they may be tired at night after a long day of other activities." The students' determination to succeed is apparent as they give Velleman their full attention, participate constantly and work hard to complete in-class and homework assignments.

A former ABE student, Edward Lee, can be considered a success story. After moving to the United States from China, Lee worked hard for years as a single father of three and as a full- time worker at a local printing company. Even though he is close to retirement age, Lee's eagerness to learn more and work toward his GED has not diminished. According to Velleman, Lee "worked very hard in the ABE class, and has made wonderful growth and improvement in all academic areas, especially in Language Arts." Lee has graduated from the ABE program and he is currently attending pre-GED courses at JMCC with interpreters. Regarding his future after completing his GED requirements, Lee hinted that he may embark on a college degree.

Like Lee, many other ABE students take pre-GED courses among completion of their basic skills classes with Velleman. What happens after that is completely up to each student. Some of them may decide to enter college while some others may search for a job. No matter which route they decide to take, all ABE students are able to leave with increased confidence and opportunities. When discussing what she likes best about being the ABE Class Instructor, Velleman states, "I think seeing the difference I am helping to make in my students' lives. It takes a great deal of courage to go back to school and to make this kind of commitment. I am glad to be in a position to be able to support these efforts."

For more information on the ABE Class, please visit their website at or email JMCC/Adult Education Director Barbara Pecci at

(Information from SIGNews)

New Executive Director Joins DEAF, Inc.

August 5, 2003 - Walking into the Boston headquarters of DEAF Inc. is like stepping into another world.

It's a hypnotic, quiet world for those used to a hearing reality, a place where clients and staff speak fluidly with their hands. It's an unusual oasis in the Boston area: a place linguistically and culturally accessible to the Deaf community.

"As soon as you come in, the environment is American Sign Language," said Sharon Applegate, the non-profit's new executive director.

It's a comfort level that's key to the 25-year-old DEAF Inc.'s mission, to help its clientele of deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing people. Its services run the gamut from HIV/AIDS education to independent living.

For Applegate, previously assistant executive director at the New York City Society for the Deaf, it's also a challenge. While she hopes to eventually expand services, the state's financial crisis has left the non-profit trying to hold on to what it already has.

"Today, there are financial difficulties everywhere and everyone is feeling the crunch," Applegate said through a sign language interpreter. "The foundations are not giving as much money as they did previously. Everyone is competing for the small number of funds they can give."

What Applegate knew going into the job is that the area has a strong Deaf community. She already had a strong interest in moving to Framingham after researching schools for her daughter Louise, 7.

"I really wanted her to go to an all-inclusive deaf school," Applegate said. "The Learning Center for Deaf Children (in Framingham) has a reputation as one of the best schools in the country."

Her daughter recently started soccer camp at the school and already feels at home, she added.

"She has new deaf friends already and some of them have been to our home already," said Applegate. Her partner, Alec, an ASL and Deaf culture professor, plans to move up from Manhattan to join the pair in Framingham. "There are a lot of deaf families in Framingham and I've met a lot of people. They are warm and friendly."

Bringing up her daughter in Deaf culture is important to Applegate. She was matched with Louise when the child was only 4 and living in China, one of only two deaf children in the entire orphanage.

"When I first met her, she had no language. She just pointed," Applegate said. Once exposed to ASL, however, she quickly picked up the language and now is thriving.

Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Applegate lost her hearing to an illness when she was only 18 months old. She attended Kennedy School for the Deaf, a school which focused on oral and lipreading skills rather than sign language. In high school, she was mainstreamed into the public schools, where she was the only deaf individual.

"It was very different at that time," she recalled. "There were no interpreters or support services."

During high school, however, she met a few other deaf peers who taught her ASL.

"Parents want what's best for the children," Applegate said, noting that 90 percent of deaf individuals came from hearing families. "Often, they feel it's better for their children to function in a world that can hear. That's what they know. Rather than accept the children for who they are. I grew up oral and I'm thankful for my speech and lip reading skills but if I grew up with ASL, I think I would be more in touch with what's going on in the world.

"When I started learning sign language, I felt more confident. I felt more 'normal' rather than my hearing being broken," she added. "Via ASL, a world of information flowed right into me, and it definitely changed my life," she said. "I've become more knowledgeable about the world around me."

That knowledge brought her to Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf, where she fell in love with New York City after an internship. She moved on to Columbia University, where with full interpreter service support, she attained a bachelor's degree in sociology and master's degrees in public health and social work.

Her background as a social worker for deaf psychiatric patients as well as the lessons she's learned from the New York Society for the Deaf, has made her confident that she can help expand the reach of DEAF Inc. One aspect that impressed her early on: the entire board of directors speaks ASL, unlike the directors in New York.

Programs are tailored to consumer needs. Basic education includes sign language classes, driver's education, written English, and skills assessment. Interpreters and family members are also able to receive training.

"Many of the deaf consumers who come to this agency are immigrants. They come to improve their understanding of English.

A large deaf-blind program provides independence training, allowing these clients to live with minimal assistance. Substance abuse and HIV/AIDS services are also in the mix.

Contact Jennifer Lord at

Source: MetroWest Daily News

Sharon L. Applegate Joins DEAF, Inc.

July 23, 2003 - Sharon L. Applegate has been named executive director of DEAF, Inc., the Commonwealth's first and only multi-service community-based agency run by and for Deaf or Hard of Hearing people. Ms. Applegate joins DEAF, Inc. following a nationwide search to replace Heidi Reed, who led the Organization as its executive director for fourteen years, but who left last fall to accept an appointment to serve as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

Ms. Applegate, who is Deaf and fluent in American Sign Language, brings to DEAF, Inc. 20 years of experience working with Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind people. Most recently, and for the past six years, she served as Assistant Executive Director for the New York Society for the Deaf, and held broad leadership, executive, administrative, and financial management responsibilities for that Agency - a nonprofit organization with 80 staff, 3,000 consumers, and an annual budget of $10 million.

"We are delighted that we were able to attract someone of Sharon's considerable capabilities to take the reins at DEAF, Inc.," said DEAF, Inc Board President Heather Harker. "That Sharon was willing to relocate to Massachusetts to accept this position speaks well for DEAF, Inc.'s track record of service and the depth of our programs, a credit to Heidi Reed and the staff she built and directed over 14 years. We are grateful to her, and to Chris Casey, woh led DEAF Inc. as acting executive director during our search for a new director, for their unwavering commitment to the Deaf community through service to DEAF, Inc."

"The search to replace Heidi Reed involved both DEAF, Inc. board members and members of the community," added Harker. "Ultimately, we were unanimous that Sharon was the candidate best equipped not just to continue DEAF, Inc.'s 25-year impressive legacy of quality programming and advocacy for the range of populations we serve- but to chart new directions, meet expanding demands even in the wake of current budget pressures, and take the Organization to new heights. We are delighted to have Sharon aboard and enthusiastic about the prospect of introducing her to our community when we celebrate our 25th anniversary as an organization in September.

Ms. Applegate holds two masters degrees from Columbia University (Social work and public health) and a B.A. in sociology from Columbia University. She is a resident of Framingham, where her daughter Louise (7), also Deaf, is a student at The Learning Center.

Since its founding 25 years ago, DEAF, Inc. (Developmental Evaluation and Adjustment Facilities, Inc.) has served more than 20,000 members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population of Massachusetts and the Northeast through its headquarters in Allston, and its regional offices in Salem, Middleboro, and New Bedford. The Organization provides comprehensive services to Deaf, Hard of hearing, Deafblind and Late Deafened people, as well as to their family, friends and employers, to encourage and enable consumers to participate effectively and productively in their communities. DEAF, Inc. offers educational programs, information and referrals, advocacy, skills assessment and training tailored to consumer needs in a supportive community environment - one that is linguistically and culturally accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from diverse backgrounds.

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