One Deaf Man’s Successful Path Through DCARA’s Services

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November 2013
“DCARA is a highly regarded organization and provides quality services to a unique and often underserved population.”

– Deborah Sweeney, District Administrator, Department of Rehabilitator (DOR)

Dear Thomsen,
“William,” homeless and unemployed, arrived to class at the newly launched Deaf Employment Training Center (DETC), hoping to receive the necessary skills to get a job.  Jenny Gough, DETC’s Employment Skills Instructor, immediately noticed a few issues that needed to be addressed to ensure William’s success in the program.  She pulled William aside and discussed his need to arrive to DETC in a presentable manner and in professional attire just as he would at a place of employment.  Living on a limited SSI income, William felt appropriate clothing, in addition to the job skills he would learn at DETC, were beyond his reach. Jenny worked with him to develop a budget and then explained there were ways to accomplish his goals.

Soon thereafter, the entire DETC class went to Ross and Marshall’s.  Each DETC student tried on various clothes and gave each other feedback.  William was amazed he could purchase professional attire for very little money and made a few purchases.  At the next DETC class session, he showed up looking dapper in a polo shirt and slacks.  The class broke into a round of vigorous hand-waves (the Deaf community’s way of giving applause).  William beamed widely and looked very proud!

This is one example of many that illustrate the impact the DETC has had on the students since its inception earlier this summer.  The students engage in critical skills development that includes mathematics, English and computer literacy. Especially important is they are in a classroom that is completely barrier-free and accessible to them; by using American Sign Language, students have full access to communication and information. They are in a classroom that is a safe environment for learning and peer support.  They are in a classroom where the instructors have firm belief in each student’s potential, focused on building each student’s self-esteem, and gearing their students for employment success!

The success of DETC’s launch is part of a fantastic year at DCARA that has also seen critical program accomplishments.  It excites me to share with you some of what has been going on this past year:
We have created new vision and mission statements to provide clearer direction and renewed commitment to our daily work in the community.  We are very proud to share them with you.

  1. Our new vision statement:  Global recognition, pride, respect for ASL, equality, and justice exist for all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and DeafBlind people. 
  2. Our new mission statement:  Promote and advocate for the rights of full access to American Sign Language and English, education, employment, and cultural identity of, by, for, and with Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and DeafBlind people.

We have expanded our employment services to include a new office in Concord in partnership with the State of California’s Employment Development Department.  We continue to provide the following services:  job search skills training, resume building training, interview skills coaching, employment placement, sign language interpreting at initial employment hire, and job retention.  Contra Costa County has lacked formal services for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and DeafBlind community; this makes this new employment services office in Concord that much more critical.
Our Family Connections Department partnered with a emerging organization, Deaf Youth Arts, to host the second annual Literacy Day Camp for Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth as well as hearing children of Deaf and Hard of Hearing parents.  The goal of this year’s Literacy Day Camp was to focus on bolstering the children’s literacy skills through storytelling, arts & crafts, and skits.  The camp was a resounding success!

The Family Connections Department has developed a new partnership with the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness to include providing monthly Club Saturday events as well as expanding our Family Mentoring Program.  We at DCARA believe very strongly in language models for the children, parents, and families we serve.  By providing language models to parents and families, we are ensuring that they raise whole, healthy Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and DeafBlind children.  With a solid language foundation, these children will later achieve employment success.

We have done important advocacy work with Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).  BART has been working hard to roll out new fleets of cars and we have been working with them to ensure that these new cars are fully accessible to the many Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and DeafBlind transit users to provide accessible paging systems in each car.

We have been doing some fantastic remodeling projects at our Deaf Community Center (DCC).  To date, we have seen new light fixtures in the bathrooms, a new fence outside, and a new floor indoors.  We are in the process of replacing the windows.  This has been a very exciting and evolving process in restoring pride to our DCC in time for DCC’s 20th anniversary in December 2013!
I am extremely proud of the work we do each and every day.  Our new vision and mission provides us with a sharper focus in our daily work.  No doubt, much work remains ahead of us to achieve our vision and mission.  However, we cannot do it alone.

Will you join us?  Will you join us in making sure that global recognition, pride, respect for ASL, and equality and justice exists for each and every member of your community?
“The instructor made LEARNING fun and non-intimidating! I see positive transformation in me as a parent and in my daughter. We are coming back!”

– Deaf Parent and a hearing daughter, Family Connections Program, Emeryville

Please consider giving today! How to donate:

  1. Fill out the Remit Form or make check payable to DCARA and mail to: 14895 East 14th Street, Suite 200, San Leandro, CA 94578.
  2. Donate through PayPal.

Questions about donations? Contact our Information & Referrral Specialist at or call 510-343-6670 VP/Voice

James R. Brune, Executive Director

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Thomsen Young

Founder of SG