How Deaf Adults Services, now Deaf Access Services, Started.

Posted: October 17th, 2022

How DAS was Started

  1. It all started with a motion at BCAD meeting to establish an agency where the Deaf could go to for any kind of help using sign language. This motion was passed in 1981 and BCAD set up a Task Force to get this service. A Task Force was made up of several Deaf and some hearing persons who saw the necessity for such an agency. I (Alice Guiane) served on that Task Force as well as Nancy Siegel and Kathy Hoffman.


  1. The Task Force presented a proposal to United Way 3 times, and they were not accepted. We decided to ask UW why our proposal was not accepted. They responded. The reason was that UW does not give grants to set up a new agency. They only give grants to already established agencies.


  1. It was preferred that the new agency be independent, but we decided to ask SMSD if we could be under it. SMSD agreed and submitted a new proposal to UW. It was also turned down. We were frustrated and almost gave up.


  1. One day Nancy Siegel and I went to a meeting at BHSC for a different purpose and met Lorraine McNally, an audiologist, who had deaf parents and could sign. After the meeting Nancy and I discussed about our frustration in getting an agency to serve the deaf and hard of hearing. Lorraine said, 'why not here at BHSC?'. The BHSC Board agreed to do it and submitted their proposal to UW in 1983. It was accepted.


  1. It was a program under BHSC called Services for the Hearing Impaired (SHI). Lorraine was made Supervisor of this program. A deaf woman was hired as Coordinator. An Advisory Committee was formed of several deaf persons. An interpreter service was set up with a list of available interpreters and a training class. Eventually other needs such as help deaf get jobs and also advocacy and relay service were added.


  1. After several years we decided to break away from BHSC and become independent. And we became an independent agency after getting permission from BHSC and UW. The reason we wanted independence was because BHSC had their own programs that were focused on oralism for young deaf children. Our policy clashed as we were more focused on using sign language. We are grateful that BHDC gave us an opportunity to get started.


  1. We decided on the name Deaf Adult Services and formed a new Board and elected Lorraine McNally as Executive Director. Moved out of BHSC to a rented space in a medical building. We moved several times and now are settled at the Tri-Main Building. The DAS Board consists of several deaf persons and several hearing persons. And to this day the Board continues to run DAS. Now renamed Deaf Access Services.


  1. To me the most important service provided by DAS is the Interpreter Service. Reason was that there was a new federal law (pre ADA) called Section 503 that says an interpreter must be provided when the organization receives money from the Federal Government. And the deaf did not know any interpreter and where to find them. Other services by DAS are equally important such as finding jobs and train deaf person on how to develop a resume.


  1. To this day DAS continues to meet the needs of any deaf and hard of hearing person including deaf immigrants. Congratulations DAS on its 35th Anniversary.

Tags: DAS History

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