Brief History of Buffalo Civic Association of the Deaf

Posted: October 17th, 2022

Short History of the Buffalo Civic Association of the Deaf

The Buffalo Civic Association will celebrate its 80th Anniversary on January 15, 2019. BCAD has just elected its new officers for 2018-2020. They are Mike Cross, President, Kevin LeRoy, VP, Mike Lackey, Secretary and Linda Godzik who will continue as Treas­urer. Good luck to these officers.

The purpose for establishing this organization in 1939 was to realize the cause of the deaf people of Western NY to improve their chances of a better life, to attain equality in employment and have access to community services.

The history of BCAD includes an event in April 1939, along with ESAD and other Branches to get the Wachtel Bill, which was pro­ posed in the NY State Legislature, to fail. This Bill, if passed, would restrict the privilege of the deaf people to drive. It was defeat­ ed by the help of these organizations and BCAD members who sent letters to the NY State Senate and Assembly protesting against this Bill.

In 1941 BCAD was involved with ESAD in getting employment for the deaf people until end of World War II. BCAD put a lot of effort into publicizing the fact that the deaf are efficient and conscientious workers. Because they were exempt from the army and many businesses were lacking workers, BCAD made the employers aware that they would gain a lot from hiring deaf workers. Many companies were persuaded that it was good policy to hire the deaf. Many deaf people got hired then and it was the beginning of a marked difference in the attitude of employers. They realized that the deaf were very capable and excellent workers.

In 1947, another Bill in the State Legislature was submitted that would restrict the right of the deaf to operate motor vehicles. This was the Desmond Bill. After much effort through a letter writing campaign by BCAD and ESAD, this Bill was killed.

I remember there was another Bill in the 70's that was proposed that deaf people are not allowed to drive. After several letters from BCAD and ESAD and individuals reminding the State Legislature of the past Bills that were defeated and that deaf people are excellent drivers. That Bill was withdrawn.

In 1957 a Bill was passed that no car would be registered unless the applicant files a proof that he/she has insurance. No adverse action was taken against insuring the deaf drivers except they had to go through a risk pool. BCAD helped get the rights of safe deaf drivers to get insurance without going through the pool.

Other successes through the help of BCAD are:


  1. DAS was established through the efforts of BCAD. To this day BCAD continues to support DAS.


  1. Helped get Interpreter services for the deaf established at DAS.


  1. TTY Relay Services and closed captioning at local TV stations.


  1. In 1979 BCAD was involved in the Buffalo Post Office, with help from United Citizens Organization (UCO), to open up jobs to the deaf that were denied them for years.
  2. Involved with supporting the deaf schools when Gov. Pataki proposed to turn over the support of these schools to local districts which if passed could lead to eventually closing the deaf schools.

The Deaf people would be lost if they are not organized. Thanks to BCAD for making NV State accessible to the Deaf. We need to stick together to protect our rights in case some well-meaning but dumb legislator tries to stop us from driving or decide inter­preters are not necessary. You never know.

Keep up the good work, BCAD.

 Alice M. Guinane         

P.S. Membership Dues for BCAD is $10.00 annually. BCAD would appreciate your support to protect the rights of the Deaf in WNY. Contact Linda Godzik.

Tags: History of Buffalo Community/Organizations

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