Southwest Washington Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Provides programs and services to deaf and hard of hearing individuals in SW Washington. A non-profit organization funded by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services / Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, United Way, and YOU, our community partners.
Washington State Association for the Deaf A non-profit organization that works to promote, protect and preserve the rights and quality of life of deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the state of Washington.
Washington Sensory Disabilities Service Washington Sensory Disabilities Services (WSDS) exists to assist children who are deaf or hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, or deaf-blind, by providing training and other support to families and service providers.
WSDS is funded by a state education agency— the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)—as a state needs special education project. WSDS receives other federal and state grants to support their services as well, so they are able to offer them at little or no cost.
Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing The Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) provides services to the deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind communities throughout Washington State. ODHH contracts with six community service centers, located in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Pasco, Spokane, and Bellingham, to provide communications access advocacy, sign language interpreter information, workshops, information and referral, counseling, outreach and independent living support services to clients and their families.
Washington State Deaf-Blind Citizens, Inc. (WSDBC) Works to promote educational, economic, and social welfare; to encourage fellowship; to defend rights, and advance an organization in which members can participate in the discussion of problems and solutions relative to their welfare and prosperity.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Hearing aids are the most common devices needed by deaf and hard of hearing people. In certain instances, some of the agencies listed can provide new or reconditioned aids free of charge or at reduced rates. Other agencies may offer assistance in obtaining these aids. In some states, Medicaid will help cover the cost of purchasing a hearing aid. Check with your health insurance company regarding its policy coverage for hearing aids. You may also wish to contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for information on insurance coverage of hearing aids and related service. ASHA keeps abreast of current developments and change in the coverage of hearing health care expenses by private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare.
Text Telephones (TTYs) Telephone accessibility for deaf and hard of hearing people has improved in recent years. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title IV requires that each state maintain a telephone relay service (TRS). These services enable TTY users to communicate with non-TTY users and have been operational since 1993. These programs are usually administered by the state agency on deafness. The state agency invites applications from residents that have a hearing loss or speech impediment.
Applicants are screened for medical and financial eligibility. Once eligibility is established, the agency may give the applicant a TTY at no charge, or may lease or sell the applicant a TTY at substantially reduced rates. In some states, the applicant is given a voucher that may be used to purchase equipment from dealers.
For more information about TTY distribution programs for your state, contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office.
Rehabilitation Service Administration Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) will provide service for VR clients who meet eligibility requirements. Assistance with hearing aids and devices may be provided to clients who need such devices to secure or retain employment.
U.S. Veterans Administration All World War I veterans are eligible to receive free hearing aids. Other veterans can receive free hearing aids if their hearing loss is at least 50 percent service-related. Veterans must first contact a V.A. medical facility near their home. The veteran’s health care act provides free TeleCaption decoders to veterans who have profound hearing loss that is service-related. The V.A. will also provide TTYs and telephone amplification devices to veterans with service-related hearing loss.
Civic/Service Organizations Many community service organizations receive charitable donations to purchase hearing aids and other devices for low income deaf and hard of hearing people. Clubs often recondition hearing aids and donate them to needy individuals. Many of these organizations are listed in your telephone directory.
The following are several organizations that typically offer this type of assistance:
Statewide Agencies/Programs These agencies and programs provide service to residents of their state. Agencies may be able to provide full or partial assistance depending upon financial circumstances. Medicaid provides service to eligible recipients only. Crippled children’s services may provide hearing aids for children up to 21 years of age from low-income families.
The following are several organizations that typically offer this type of assistance:
Department of Public Health (Health and Environment, etc.)
Commission for Handicapped Children
Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People (Council for the Hearing Impaired, Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, etc)
Programs for Individual with Developmental Disabilities
Family Service Centers
Local Agencies/Programs: Local agencies sometimes receive donations or private funds to assist with various needs. Speech and hearing centers may provide hearing aids at a reduced rate for clients who have used their service for audiological assessment. Some areas have hearing aid banks that distribute reconditioned hearing aids to individuals ineligible for finical assistance. These banks are often affiliated with local service organizations such as:
With ASL I could learn everything. I’ve made so much progress since I came here. I’m grateful to my parents for sending me to WSD. In my opinion, you’ll want to come here.
I asked my mother to send me here. It was a big decision for her because I lived 8 hours away from here. My mother made the right choice to send me here. It was worth it.
A strong language foundation is very important for their success in life. Research shows that deaf students who have American Sign Language skills are then more successful in English.
Former ASL-English Bilingual Program Service Director
Our daughter’s first language is ASL. It’s very important she understand ASL.
Before I got to WSD, I didn’t sign well. I used a little bit of gesturing. When I got here, I got better and better.
I’ve seen a lot of changes because the communication was there to be able to interact, socialize, boost her self-esteem. The teachers, the staff, very positive reinforcements here.
I am very thankful for all the support given to us as a family, for every word of encouragement and time dedicated. Since day one we had a very warm welcoming and we felt the passion and dedication that everyone has, of teaching with a smile. Thank you as well for all your patience with [her] throughout this new learning experience.
I like that I can look directly at my teacher. I don’t have to look at the interpreter. I can get the teaching directly from the teacher.
ASL is their language. That gives them the self-esteem and they have a foundation then to support their English development.
Former Work Education Teacher, Transition Needs Team
Once Nicolas started coming here, he blossomed and bloomed. I’m happy to say he walks, talks, runs, reads and plays basketball and does all the things they said he would never do.
He would start telling me ‘I just want to read at recess. I don’t want anybody to talk to me,’ and I’m like ‘no’. He’s outgoing. That’s not in his spirit. We started looking at different schools and was wowed by this school because of the socialization at recess and lunch and in the classroom is amazing.
[We] came to the school. She fell in love with it. The teachers, the one-on-one, the bi-lingual, the support for speech, for occupational therapy Gabby had at that time. There was a plethora of resources for us. And my husband and I had children. They are our responsibility. We want the best for her. We want her to succeed in the world. Here she goes.
Every deaf child can learn just the same as hearing children can. I think that one problem is that often there are misconceptions about deaf children’s abilities.
Former Superintendent, WSD
We know that learning is a social activity. It’s social in nature. People learn from each other all the time. Children learn the fastest from their peers.
I can tell he just feels like a whole new world has been open to him in how to communicate with his hands and he has already made soooooo much progress….I’ve always felt like I had to micromanage everything for him and like nobody else understood what he needed and it’s just so nice now to just know he is in good hands and around people who understand him in a way even I don’t and we are all just amazed at how much even a month has affected him. He wakes up begging to go to school.
It is very crucial that the children have access to language development. A natural acquisition of language right from the very beginning.
So in one year [Jonathan] has made amazing progress. I think that just how much ASL is going on in the classroom has really made all the difference. So he is exposed to it all day.