Deaf-REACH seeks to maximize the quality of life of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and families through a wide spectrum of services.
We envision a world in which Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are equal participants in society.
TOGETHER WE CAN!
Through the new strategic planning process Deaf-REACH has broadened the mission and vision of the agency.
Deaf-REACH is a non-profit agency committed to maximize the self-sufficiency of deaf and hard of hearing people who need special services. By providing referral, education, employment, advocacy, counseling and housing, Deaf-REACH offers specialized programs and access to additional services within The Washington, D.C. area. While the agency welcomes all deaf and hard –of-hearing people, various programs focus on the specific needs of those who are also mentally ill, developmentally disabled or socially and economically disadvantaged. Included are group homes and apartments, information and referral to community services, personal counseling, housing placement assistance, vocational training and job placement, addictions counseling, HIV prevention education, life skills training and socialization activities.
Although incorporated in 1972, the idea for Deaf-REACH actually sprang from an ecumenical retreat in 1967 when a speaker failed to appear. This one event, improbable as it may seem, began a chain reaction that culminated in the establishment of the National Health Care Foundation for the Deaf, now known as Deaf-REACH. At the retreat, the substitution for the absent speaker’s presentation was a round-table discussion of how deaf churches could maximize the effectiveness of their community outreach. When someone mentioned that the approximately 30 deaf patients at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., a facility for mentally ill persons, were isolated from one another because they were housed randomly throughout the complex, a monthly social was proposed.
Fortunately, the head of the hospital supported this idea, recognized the benefits of permanently moving all participating deaf patients into one building, and created the hospital’s Mental Health Program for the Deaf. The success of this program was obvious and the need for a group home outside of the hospital’s campus where deaf patients who have progressed and been released could live while adjusting to life in the greater community grew. Otis House, Deaf-REACH’s first group home- also the first such home in the nation for deaf, mentally ill persons- was thereby opened to support the patient’s transition to life in the community.
Since then, Deaf-REACH has grown steadily forcing the agency to seek larger quarters. In January 1991, the main office was established in the heart of Northeast Washington’s Brookland community – a historic neighborhood that warmly welcomed them. Now Deaf-REACH, with its offices, group homes, and programs within walking distance of one another, continues to grow toward the future.
All Deaf-REACH programs embrace the nationally acclaimed psychosocial rehabilitation approach to mental health. Utilizing this approach, members are actively involved with professionals in their own treatment, helping establish the format and level of service delivery that they receive. An important aspect involves learning necessary life skills, thus minimizing the need for assistance from a service professional. This self-empowerment is part of what distinguishes the approach at Deaf-REACH and provides a solid foundation for member’s success.