Christ the King Deaf Church/DeafCAN! Program

Christ the King Deaf Church/DeafCAN! Program

In a world where Deaf people are often outsiders in their own countries and even families, DeafCAN! reaches to find, affirm, teach, lift, liberate, and engage the most vulnerable among them, those with mental/physical challenges, immigrants/refugees, DeafBlind, & prisoners/returning citizens. This proposal is for our work with Deaf, AAPI immigrants/refugees

Christ the King Deaf Church/DeafCAN! Program

In a world where Deaf people are often outsiders in their own countries and even families, DeafCAN! reaches to find, affirm, teach, lift, liberate, and engage the most vulnerable among them, those with mental/physical challenges, immigrants/refugees, DeafBlind, & prisoners/returning citizens. This proposal is for our work with Deaf, AAPI immigrants/refugees who come to the US with many different sign languages, cultures/religions, traumatic histories. DeafCAN! is the only organization in PA, DE, or NJ with dedicated services to this population and we serve individuals/families at three locations: Philadelphia, Harrisburg, & Lancaster, the latter two with large relocation of Bhutanese/Nepali individuals/families.

About the Organization:

In a world where Deaf people are often outsiders in their own countries and even families, DeafCAN! reaches to find, affirm, teach, lift, liberate, and engage the most vulnerable among them, those with mental/physical challenges, immigrants/refugees, DeafBlind, & prisoners/returning citizens. This proposal is for our work with Deaf, AAPI immigrants/refugees who come to the US with many different sign languages, cultures/religions, traumatic histories. DeafCAN! is the only organization in PA, DE, or NJ with dedicated services to this population and we serve individuals/families at three locations: Philadelphia, Harrisburg, & Lancaster, the latter two with large relocation of Bhutanese/Nepali individuals/families.

organizational budget

$100,000 - $500,000

existence for

11-15 YEARS

The Issue:

Of the 85,000 Bhutanese refugees who were resettled but scattered throughout the US, PA received the largest - 4,909. However, estimates are that between 30,000 to 40,000, and growing, have now relocated to S Central PA to reconnect families and community. DeafCAN! has identified 64 Deaf individuals who depend on sign/visual language. Yet, after two, COVID-reduced years of working with this population, we have not met one hearing family member who signs. While those hearing members grow roots, learn English, integrate, become citizens, the Deaf members remain mostly isolated, not learned American Sign Language so cannot use/understand ASL interpreters, have no or very limited, accessible health / human service support, no licenses or cars, accessible phones, or alerting devices for their homes. Many families have had them labelled “incompetent” so they can be paid as their caretakers, thereby invested in keeping them isolated, oppressed, exploited to support the larger families.

The Solution:

We know what it is like to be Deaf ‘refugees’ in our families, grocery store, church… language barriers almost everywhere. Being Deaf sets us apart, but we have equal strengths, abilities, and share this uniqueness with Deaf people around the world. We work with 70 AAPI Deaf individuals from 7 countries, with more than 200 family members. We model that Deaf CAN! learn, parent, work, handle finances, communicate effectively with doctors, landlords, schools... Our lead staff is a Deaf refugee from Bhutan, fluent in ASL & NSL (Nepali Sign) - one of a handful of such interpreters in the US. We have locally ‘won’ the Civil Right to have an ASL/NSL interpreting team for ADA related access, weekly classes at three locations, monthly socials for families, volunteers, and greater Deaf community, case management for housing, finances, healthcare… Classes focus on learning ASL, essential life skills, and mostly, on self-worth!

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