DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING CULTURAL AWARENESS AND SENSITIVITY TRAINING PROGRAM INITIATIVE

(Grand Rapids, MI, August 27, 2015) – Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services is pleased to announce a new Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training program initiative, funded by a grant award from the Dyer-Ives Foundation.

At least 3.6% of the Michigan population is Deaf or hard-of-hearing, and struggle with chronic unemployment and underemployment. Only 16.6% of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing population are employed full time, and 56.2% are unemployed. Further, almost 20% of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing live below the poverty line. These statistics cross all ethnic and gender lines.

In order to effectively address the systemic problems with accessibility, and lack of economic opportunities for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing populations, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services created an educational program for the general public, businesses, government and other entities, which is the Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training program. The program will be individualized to suit the needs of each consumer.

It is believed that Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services’ Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training program is the first ever in Michigan by a nonprofit, that focuses on training hearing individuals, businesses, government organizations, and other entities on how to be culturally aware and sensitive to the needs of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. Executive Director Deb Atwood states, “I am thrilled to see this initiative go forward and to see increased accessibility on all levels for our Deaf and hard-of-hearing populations here in West Michigan. Special thanks go to the Dyer-Ives Foundation for helping to make this program possible. Together, we shall make West Michigan truly inclusive for all.”

The Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training program will be spearheaded by Jeannette Johnson, Development Director, and Sandy Faulkner, a retired social worker. Altogether, the two have over 30 years’ experience in diversity training. For more information on fees and training, contact Jeannette Johnson at info@deafhhs.org.

About Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services

Deaf, Inc., dba Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, is an independent 501(c)3 agency serving Grand Rapids and surrounding areas since 1996 (incorporated in 2002) through its KidSigns program, CAST program, sign language interpreter services, advocacy, sign language classes, and the ADAPT program, which provides hearing aid assistance and adaptive equipment to low-income Kent county seniors. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services’ mission is to provide communication, human services and education to Deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing communities with the goal of inclusiveness in Western Michigan.

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