Deaf Reach


Photo taken at the Deaf Comedy Night

Kaley Scherrer, Staff Writer

Earlier this year, the ASLHS officers and Mrs. Coy took a trip to Washington D.C. to visit an organization called Deaf Reach. Part of the reason for their trip was to learn more about the organization, but also to present a check. The officers had raised money for Deaf Reach by designing t-shirts that they sold at the beginning of the year.

Abby Dale, one of the officers, provided information about the organization and the trip. “Deaf Reach is a non-profit organization for the deaf community, specifically for adults who are deaf with mental health issues or poor mental health.” She explained how the people there typically suffer language deprivation at a young age, so they go there for help and to learn how to communicate. “They have some group houses for people who can stay there, but the majority of the participants are just there for day services.”

Emily Goulet, also one of the officers, talked about her experience on the trip. “The trip was really eye opening because we raised the money for this organization and we all, I think, had different pictures of what this organization was.” She explained that Mrs. Coy had looked into Deaf Reach and encouraged the officers to raise money for it, but none of them had physically been to the campus before. “It was just really interesting to see what kind of things they needed to accommodate for, and things that we would never think of, like they might need help crossing the street because they might not hear car horns honking on top of not being mentally aware of things. So it was just really eye opening.”

“We got to do tactile signing which was amazing. It’s not an opportunity that people normally get, but it’s super important to know what to do in that type of situation,” Dale mentioned. Tactile signing is a form of sign language used with people who are deaf and blind. It is signing straight into the other person’s hand so that they can feel the signs.

As for the shirts they designed, Goulet explained more about the process. “The officers and Mrs. Coy met at Wegmans and we designed this t-shirt that said “ASL” in sign on the front. Then we sold those shirts to students and other ASL people, like people in the club and the honor society got to buy them, and then we gave a portion of that money, I think it was a third of the money we raised, we gave to Deaf Reach.”

Both officers enjoyed their trip to Deaf Reach. “I would definitely go again. I thought it was really cool. I’d probably raise money again if I could,” Goulet commented.

Dale said, “I definitely enjoyed my visit, I would love to go back. Everyone there is so nice and so friendly, and it was so much fun. We just sat in a room, it was basically like a deaf chat. You just sit in a room and just hang out and talk, it was so much fun.”

They also gave advice on how other people can help Deaf Reach. “People can help by donating money, writing checks, volunteering. All of the people at Deaf Reach, including the staff, they love having people visit. They love being able to interact with visitors. It provides a change of scenery,” Dale explained. She even talked about the qualifications for being a volunteer. “For people who volunteer, it would be good to have ASL experience because all of the staff is deaf. There are really only two people that are the interpreters who are hearing. But since most of the people there are learning sign, you could probably get away with gestures.”

Goulet gave more ideas for raising money. “People could sell shirts, or some type of clothing, or a wristband if they want to raise money that way. They could also host an event and have people pay to come in, like I know some schools do a potluck dinner type of event where everyone can bring in a dish, but you have to pay five bucks to get in and then you can eat whatever.” She also talked about volunteering. “People could also join ASL club or the ASL honor society and be volunteering that way, or even if they just take ASL as a class to become culturally aware.”

The ASL club and honor society are great ways to connect with the deaf community, and both would be grateful for more members next year. For more information, Mrs. Coy teaches the ASL classes and sponsors the club and honor society.