Deaf Connections, Inc.

deaf_connection_logoValley Organization Helps Make Life Easier for Deaf and Hard – of Hearing People

Deaf Connections Inc. has a goal: to make everything as accessible for deaf and hard – of – hearing people as it is for those who can hear. It’s a very ambitious goal, but it puts a spotlight on the needs of those without hearing. Mendy Olson is President of the organization, which is based in Menasha, and has been in existence since 2001. This will be their first year of fundraising at Octoberfest. Olson says that money raised will be put toward services for local deaf and hard – of – hearing people, such as counseling, and developing a new emergency alert plans for them. “There are a lot of resources out there like AA for the hearing, but there aren’t many for the deaf or hard – of – hearing,” asserts Olson. “Those non – profit organizations don’t have the money to provide interpreters. When it comes to a deaf person needing assistance, there isn’t anything out there for them, which sort of breaks my heart. That is one thing that Deaf Connections wants to do. If there is a program out there that a hearing person has access to, but a deaf person does not, we want to be able to offer that to our deaf community.”

Did you ever think about a deaf person’s safety during a weather emergency? Olson says that’s one of their concerns. “We also work want to work with the fire department to set something up, like texting, so that the deaf don’t have to be worried about not hearing the siren in the event of a tornado. It takes money to get these things going.”

The need for assistance is especially acute for those who may be middle – aged and suddenly find themselves caught between two worlds. “Just in the past two or three months I’ve had more people come to us because they’ve been hearing all their lives and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, they are losing their hearing pretty rapidly and they’re in that panic stage where they can’t hear people talking to them but they don’t know sign language or another way of communication, so that communication gap is there for them. We started sign language classes for them, we started support groups, so they can get out what they’re feeling – their fear. When they’re losing their hearing they feel like they’re not connecting with the hearing world and yet they’re not quite connected with the deaf world. So they don’t feel like they have a place. There are a lot of emotions that we’re trying to help them through as they go through this experience.”

Olson will be staffing the booth, along with other volunteers from Deaf Connections, Inc. On the menu is something that should be super tasty: Frito Pie. “My mom is from Texas and she brought Frito pie here way back in 1973,” explains Olson. “Our church used to do Frito pie and they did really well. It’s the original recipe from my mom.”

When you stop at their booth, you most likely will meet someone who is deaf or hard – of – hearing. “We are hoping for a lot of the deaf to be in the booth, so there will be a lot of sign language going on, which will be kind of interesting to see how we’re going to do that. The only thing that they’re lacking is their hearing. We’re coming up with different ways for them to take the orders.”

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