Season’s Greetings from DEAF, Inc.

handsAs the year draws to a close, we want to wish everyone happy holidays and a happy New Year. We thank our community who come to DEAF, Inc. and work to achieve their goals; our amazing and dedicated staff; our wonderful volunteers, DEAF, Inc.’s Board of Directors, and especially our generous donors - individuals, families, foundations, businesses, corporations who give what they can to ensure that Deaf-accessible services remain available across Massachusetts – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Independent Living Services, DeafBlind Community Access Network (DBCAN), and Project HOPE health outreach, prevention and education (including medical case management). We also thank those who advocate for Deaf and disability services in Massachusetts and elsewhere. We look forward to the New Year with you all.

Welcoming Yuta Yoshida, Our Japanese Intern

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Yuta Yoshida in his office at DEAF, Inc.

Sept. 15, 2015 - This fall, DEAF, Inc. welcomes Yuta Yoshida, our new international intern from Japan, who will be working with Sharon Applegate this fall. Yuta is a Computer Science student from Tsukuba University of Technology, in Japan (an hour north east of Tokyo). He is part of the UMass Boston’s Duskin Disability Leadership Program, a partnership of UMass Boston’s Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) and Japan’s Duskin Ainowa Foundation. The program is an intensive 5-month program for Japanese people with disabilities who want to develop leadership skills that they can bring back to Japan.

In 2014, Yuta participated in a Culture and Communication Exchange Program. He visited universities in Korea and China to learn about disability issues in different cultures. “I experienced many hardships relating to my disability… I began to think I want to learn how to overcome the disability. In America, many people have a strong identity and I thought I can learn many things from them.”

Yuta is fluent in Japanese Sign Language. He studied English, and is a fluent English reader and writer. “I have grown up surrounded by the deaf environment from my childhood. In my university, all students are deaf and most of the teachers can use sign language.” At DEAF, Inc., Yuta is learning ASL.

Yuta has been adapting to life in Boston and his work at DEAF, Inc. He spends some of his time working with receptionist Matt Kelley at the front desk in the Allston office. There Yuta practices his ASL skills greeting visitors and connecting them to staff members who can answer their questions in depth. Primarily, Yuta is focusing on projects for Sharon, including a project to interview community members and post their stories as vlogs on DEAF, Inc.’s website, www.deafinconline.org. He joins the staff for lunch and will be working with staff to meet with community members for his main project.

Of his long-term goals, Yuta says, “I want to help many people similar to me, talking about how to overcome the disability, identity and so on.” How does he like living in Boston? “I have lived in Boston only for one month… Now I’m having a good time in Boston."

Yuta’s schedule at DEAF, Inc. is still being settled, but look for him at the office and at events, like our Deaf Community Thanksgiving, this fall.

 

Staff Appreciation Day 2015

By Diana Goldfarb

On Aug. 7, DEAF, Inc. staff members and families enjoyed a day of picnicking, socializing, and boating at our annual Staff Appreciation Day at Cochituate State Park, hosted by the Board of Directors. While some stayed on the shore, many of us took to the water for 2 hours of kayaking, standing paddle boarding, and pedal boating to make our Staff Appreciation the best ever! Thanks to Boating in Boston for their generous donation and their outstanding staff, and Cochituate State Park for another year of fun and their generous support.

Click below to see photos!

Team DEAF, Inc. Celebrates Another Successful Run/Walk at the James Joyce Ramble

Team DEAF, Inc. runners, walkers, and volunteers scored another win as part of our 2015 Walk/Run for Deaf Pride at the James Joyce Ramble. The team raised much needed funds for communication accessibility and Deaf services. DEAF, Inc. volunteers staffed our tent and the race water table at the finish line, handing out bottles of water to thirsty runners and walkers as they completed the course. Special thanks to Board member Alicia Wooten for organizing our part of the event this year! Hands Waving! Thank you to everyone – runners, walkers, volunteers, planners, and our generous donors (not shown but always behind us)! It’s not too late to mail your check to “DEAF, Inc.” in honor of Team DEAF, Inc. or visit http://www.gofundme.com/DEAFIncJJR.

2015 Team DEAF, Inc. at JJR

Pictured here (L-R, back row: Robin Raymond-Meehan (walker), John Meehan (volunteer); next row: Matt Hochkeppel (volunteer), Board member Alicia Wooten (Team Organizer), Pauline Raiche (walker), Marie Desrosiers (walker), Lisa Gentile (DBCAN Provider), Board President Kelly Kim (runner), Board member Diana Goldfarb (volunteer), David Goldfarb (runner), Board member Nigel Long (volunteer); next row: Myrna Hochkeppel (volunteer), Executive Director Sharon Applegate (volunteer), Nkiki Akunwafor (walker); seated and on the grass: Carisa Hochkeppel (volunteer), Elaine Ducharme (volunteer), Steffy McQuiggan (walker) and Eileen Schreyer (DBCAN Provider), Abby Jo D’Agostino (walker), Board member Kendra Timko-Hochkeppel (volunteer), Jill Hatcher and Jeni the Hearing Dog (walkers). Not shown: Jocelyn Alleyne (walker), Lucy Annett (runner), Randy Dor (walker), Elizabeth Earley (runner), Jean Healy (walker and leader of staff training walks) and Allen Reposh (DBCAN Provider), James Johnstone (volunteer), Lori Johnstone (volunteer), Pax McCarthy (walker), Matthew Sweet (walker).

 

MA DeafBlind Community and Friends Benefit from Weekend “Pro-Tactile” Training

by Lori Siedman and Elaine Ducharme

Pro-Tactile (PT) is the newest development in DeafBlind communication. It is a method, and an attitude shift and tool. Developed by Jelica Nuccio and aj Granda, two DeafBlind community leaders from Seattle, Washington in 2000, Pro-Tactile has been gaining support and recognition in the DeafBlind community since its introduction. The method fills gaps in visual information, making one-on-one and group discussions more inclusive for DeafBlind participants. Pro-Tactile supports everyone, enabling inclusive conversation and building bridges across communities.

Jelica and aj explain in their vlogs that just as Non-Deaf people use sound and voice to communicate, and Deaf people use sight to communicate, Pro-Tactile relies on touch. Touch is what promotes connection and understanding in the DeafBlind community. Pro-Tactile conveys facial expressions, environmental cues, and awareness about who is in a DeafBlind person’s proximity. Pro-Tactile uses touch to provide feedback cues, non-verbal responses to what is being communicated, what’s happening in environment around the conversation, for example, if someone is nodding or if an audience is applauding, laughing, yawning, or texting, and where the action is taking place.

In August 2013, Elaine Ducharme, Director of DEAF, Inc.’s DBCAN program, learned about Pro-Tactile. Elaine realized that the Boston DeafBlind community could benefit from it, and when she returned to Boston, DEAF, Inc. organized a Pro-Tactile workshop for Deaf, DeafBlind, interpreters, SSPs, and friends of the community.

DEAF, Inc.’s Pro-Tactile workshop was offered over the weekend of March 7 and 8, 2015, presented by Jamie Pope and Steven Collins, of Washington, D.C. The Saturday morning session had 16 DeafBlind participants. The Sunday morning session was for Interpreters/SSPs/Deaf Community members and friends;, approximately 50 took part. Sunday afternoon, the DeafBlind participants rejoined the training, and the whole group, nearly 70 people, joined together in activities and practice. Special thanks to Donna Boucher, Rachel Judelson, Jeanette Ocampo-Welch, and Cara Schwartz, our volunteer interpreters, and to volunteers Dana Haggar, Jennifer Kronmiller, Steve Perreault, Drew Pidkameny, Victoria Sengstack, and Eliza Swieczkowski. You helped make the day a huge success!

Funding for DEAF, Inc.’s Pro-Tactile workshop was made possible in part by generous donations from Boston University Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, Deaf Blind Contact Center (DBCC), MassRID, National Interpreter Education Center, Northeastern University ASL Program, and individual donors.

Pro-Tactile is a radical form of communication and interaction. It empowers DeafBlind individuals and the DeafBlind community to make decisions about how they communicate and interact with their environment. Pro-Tactile can be utilized by anyone, whether they are able to see or hear or not. The PT way is pro-touch, pro-experience, and pro-responsibility – enabling DeafBlind individuals to choose how to handle themselves, their communication, and ultimately, their world. Thus, Pro-Tactile is also political. It challenges sighted privilege. Pro-Tactile is a rejection of the pressure from the dominant society to conform to sighted-hearing norms.

To promote the use of Pro-Tactile in Boston, Lori Siedman is introducing monthly Pro-Tactile Happy Hour (PTHH) meetups. Everyone is welcome! No experience required! An introduction to Pro-Tactile techniques will be offered a half-hour before the meetup. The first PTHH meetup will be Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 4:00pm at Patron Mexican Restaurant (formerly known as Sunset Grill) 138 Brighton Avenue, Allston, MA.

PTHH also has a Facebook page - please click “LIKE” and join the Facebook page at Pro-Tactile Happy Hour in Boston. To add your email address to the monthly PTHH mailing list, send an email including your name and email address to BostonPTHH@gmail.com.

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