NorCal Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
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Organization Details


Deaf Access Assistance Program Service area covers 24 north eastern counties in California. In 1978, NorCal Center on Deafness, Deaf Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency, and Greater Los Angeles Agencies for the Deaf were awarded research and demonstration funding to establish a best-practices model of service delivery to the deaf community. The result of the historic research was that the most effective and efficient model of service delivery for the deaf community was direct services, delivered by individuals proficient in the preferred language and/or communication mode of the deaf individual and knowledgeable of deaf culture and the deaf life experience.

As a result of these efforts by the deaf community and the agencies representing them, the California State Legislature and the Governor created the Office of Deaf Access (ODA) in 1980. The office was to oversee and ensure the accessibility of services through the CDSS. The state's Deaf Access Program (DAP) was established as a regional service delivery plan to ensure the deaf community's access to services by contracting with eight non-profit community based agencies to provide linkage and access services throughout the state. See Attachment A for the DSS DAP Regional Map.

The Deaf Access Programs provide seven mandated basic services including:
- Communication Services: The provision of or referral to interpreting and real time captioning services including 24-hour emergency assistance for medical, law enforcement, and mental health situations. Assistive listening or signaling devices are displayed and sold. Video Phone access is provided at DAP office locations for the community. Document translation services are designed for individuals who require assistance in comprehending and/or filling out official documents, applications or forms.
- Counseling: Individual, family, and peer counseling that is communication accessible through either referral or direct service.
- Advocacy Services: This includes both individual and system advocacy issues involving access to healthcare, education, employment, legal/justice system, mental health counseling, housing assistance and access to traditional services as well as for communication assistance.
- Independent Living Skills Instruction: Assisting D/HH individuals live more independently and function more effectively within their communities through support services and education on employment preparation, housing options, money management, etc.
- Job Development and Placement: Employment assistance including application preparation, interview skills, job placement, and unemployment insurance issues. Information and training is also offered to employers on how to accommodate D/HH employees.
- Information and Referral: A clearinghouse of information and resources related to all aspects of hearing loss and the deaf and hard of hearing community.
- Community Education: Through workshops, training, information booths, agency tours, and collaboration with other organization increase public awareness and understanding about the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

The goal of DAP is to ensure that D/HH persons receive all entitled benefits and services, and assists them in achieving and maintaining self-sufficiency and independence.

Program Successes
'Of, By, and For' the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Philosophy and Services:
- NorCal is a community based and maintain high levels of deaf and hard of hearing input through staff, board, key positions, clients, and the community at large
- All services are provided in the preferred language (American Sign Language or English) or communication mode (lip-reading, written English, visual cues, gestures) of the client including real time captioning, tactile signing or interpreting for Deaf-Blind consumers, and a range of assistive listening devices for those experiencing various degrees of hearing loss
- Track record of excellence in services: DAP services have been continuous since 1981 when the Legislature established the office of Deaf Access in the Department of Social Services
- One-Stop Service Concept: NorCal is one of eight regions required by the state to provide services, and operates as a "one-stop" service center
- Connection to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community: NorCal has established its roots with the various communities where outreach offices are located; both Staff and Board members participate in community events and utilize services provided by the agencies they serve or work for
- Recognition in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities: NorCal is well known in the Deaf community, as well as throughout the state, and nationally as an advocacy organization in all areas, education, healthcare, employment, and community

Each summer, Camp Grizzly provides a unique camp experience for deaf and hard of hearing children by eliminating all communication barriers. Campers immediately feel accepted, everyone signs to one another, and camp leaders are trained to meet any and all special needs. The week is filled with fun and educational activities designed to promote self esteem and build confidence.

- Mentoring: For many campers, this will be the first time they actually meet and interact with deaf adults. As with any child, successful adult role models are critical to developing a strong sense of identity. Mentoring with deaf adults is one of the most important benefits of Camp Grizzly.
- Leadership Training: Activities are designed to promote leadership by developing self-esteem, enhancing socialization and team-building skills in a young population at significant risk for poverty, illiteracy and isolation.
- Job Skills: Teens have an opportunity to serve as Counselors-in-Training, which provides additional training in team building, employment skills, emergency preparedness and the use of modern technology for survival.

At the end of the week, a satisfaction survey is conducted with campers, staff and parents. Survey results and evaluation of volunteers are submitted to the Board of Directors annually. Reports are available upon request.

Camp Grizzly operates on a minimal budget thanks to the largely volunteer staff of 28 and the in-kind support of NorCal. Most campers require partial or full tuition assistance.
Program Successes
- This program is one of the few opportunities local D/HH youth have for a meaningful and a fun summer camp experience.
- For these young people they successfully develop leadership skills with life-long benefits.
DEAFSAFE: Provides direct services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, provides training that enables professionals to improve their response to Deaf survivors as it relates to their role in the system, and provides Community Collaboration and Education.
- Attend collaborative meetings
- Provide or receive referrals of survivors
- Provide or receive consultation or technical assistance
- Identify and develop community resources for deaf DV/SA survivors
- Participate in collaborative projects or community events
- Provide Public Awareness Activities

Program Successes
- Awareness and understanding of DV/SA in the Deaf Community to seek services and/or support survivors
- Professionals understand the communication barriers for deaf survivors
- Reduction and prevention of DV/SA incidents
- Knowledge about DV/SA, dating violence and stalking within the Deaf community

NorCal's Senior Choices Program the friendly Connections Telephone Program reaches out to Deaf seniors who are 50 and older and living alone. Monthly meetings provide Deaf seniors an opportunity to socialize and learn new information. Promote deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and deaf-blind seniors' choices to healthy and dignified living options that recognize their communication, linguistic and cultural diversity. Trained, friendly, and trustworthy volunteers make calls when you want to see how you are doing, as well as provide referrals. More volunteers are needed who use sign language to assist with the outreach efforts.
- Develop living options that match the diverse communication and cultural preferences of deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and deaf-blind seniors.
- Develop and provide services that support the individual's living option
- Educate and advocate for service providers:
- To hire staff who are fluent in the various communication preferences of the consumers they serve
- To be ADA compliant, offering assistive devices and services used by people who are deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened or deaf-blind

Program Successes
- Develop living options that match the diverse communication and cultural preferences of deaf, hard of hearing, late-deafened and deaf-blind seniors.
- Develop and provide services that support the individual's living option.
- Educate and advocate for service providers.

This program is funded primarily by Alta Regional Center. Program provides for service learning for deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind or individuals with unique communication disabilities, along with intellectual/developmental disabilities opportunities using American Sign Language to learn and develop language visually, empowered to reach their personal and or vocation potential. Service learning enables such consumers to make critical hands on learning that is not available in the traditional classroom setting.
Program Successes
- Improve expressive communication skills
- Improve self-advocacy skills
- Improve knowledge of self-care
- Improve knowledge of vocational related self-care issues
- Acquire labor market exposure and basic pre-employment training
- Make independent choices and develop interests
- Improve knowledge of community resources program provides direct care staff-to-consumer ratio of 1:4