The Community Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) recently implemented a new program, the Learning Center, which provides resources to Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals seeking assistance and training needed to further their independent skills in Northeast Ohio.
The unemployment rate among Deaf people is about 50%. There are many reasons for this: a lack of support systems for that person’s upbringing, no emphasis on language acquisition as a child, a general ignorance of the needs of the Deaf population, and communication barriers.
When Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals submit job applications and resumes for job openings, they would set up job interviews but some companies would not follow up with the job applicant because it meant getting an interpreter or just a general fear of communicating/working with someone differently abled. That is what most Deaf and Hard of Hearing people face when they reach adulthood. They’re put into a world where there are barriers to employment and just applying for entitlements through social security and food stamps is easier. The Learning Center is trying to instill in its clients a work ethic and better opportunities for their future through education.
Louis Ricciardi, the Learning Center Manager has worked hard in the past year in building a blueprint to establish a curriculum and gaining a client base. Creating a successful Deaf Adult Education program will allow Louis and the Learning Center staff to positively influence many individuals in Northeast Ohio who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Louis explains how the program is divided into three components, (1) language development & literacy, (2) essential living skills, and (3) job readiness. These components help Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals who may not have received “the support they needed growing up in order to be employable and self-sufficient” Louis explained.
Language Development & Literacy helps clients work to improve on their communication, writing, and reading skills. Louis discovered, “I do notice that my clients are picking up on the lessons and most recently they started being able to differentiate between the types of adjectives.”
Essential Living Skills allows clients to learn money management and self-advocacy skills, and how to get transportation or gain a driver’s license. A variety of topics will be offered each week during Community Fridays at the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center in the University Circle office location.
Louis added, “Many of our clients live off of social security and/or have people watch their money for them, and they weren’t taught the skills they need to advocate for their needs such as interpreters.”
Community Fridays is a great opportunity for the region’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing population to attend a seminar to get acquainted with the CCDHH and its staff and to gain an understanding of topics that are so important to them. “Our Community Fridays strive to educate the Deaf Community about important issues relating to the Deaf community,” Louis explained. Topics include learning how to deal with domestic violence, voter importance and relevant voter issues, etc.
Louis continued, “Some of our clients live off social security and/or have payees take care of their money for them. We also have clients who need additional education to be able to advocate for their own needs. We have an opportunity to provide training to the Deaf community to learn how to self-advocate for their basic needs such as sign language interpreters during job interviews and doctor’s appointments.”
The CCDHH encourages the Deaf community to attend Community Friday workshops to gain a better understanding of what is important to them.
Job Readiness enables clients to gain knowledge on how to write a resume, search for jobs, and gain job interview skills. Louis noticed that a dedicated client of his is “eager to learn and improve her skills to get out in the job market” in order to have sufficient income and to feel empowered by being employed.
Next on Louis’s agenda for the Learning Center is to be recognized and to be self-sustainable by having partnerships with other agencies through referrals.
Without your donation, the Learning Center would not be possible. Because of you, we can ensure many Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals get the knowledge they need to further live independently through self-advocacy and education.
About Our Race
The Cleveland Big Wheel Relay is an annual fundraising event organized by New Partners of Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center, the young professional Associate Board of Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center (CHSC). The event will take place on Saturday, June 25, 2016 from 2-5 p.m. on W. 11th alongside Lincoln Park in Tremont, Ohio and will include music, food truck goodies, a beer tent, raffle to raise funds for CHSC, Big Wheel t-shirts made by Cleveland Clothing Co., and an exciting relay race on low-riding trikes. Teams of four must sign up before the race and raise a minimum team fundraising goal. Spectators are welcome and encouraged, and will be admitted for free on the day of the race. For more information on the race, please visit www.clevelandbigwheelrelay.com.