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One local organization works toward improving services for the hearing impaired. Monday night, September 20th, that group will be at the Library Center for a presentation. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has this report on how well the Ozarks appears to be doing when it comes to accommodating the deaf.
The Deaf Awareness Group of Southwest Missouri, or DAG, was formed five years ago. It began as a chance to bring together deaf individuals and families. Now it educates the community about the needs of the deaf, and strives to make important changes. Linda Cheek is co-founder of DAG.
“My husband and I have adopted children that are deaf. We just noticed in the area there just weren’t get-togethers. My deaf children didn’t know other deaf adults and didn’t have any good role models that they could look up, to know that they could grow up and go to college, and be successful,” Cheek explains.
Cheek says that it is important for deaf children to socialize with deaf adults, so they understand they can achieve anything that they set out to do. Cheek explains that without the opportunity to know others with the same condition, many deaf children believe they will “outgrow” their deafness upon reaching adulthood. She says that this is because most of the adults they are surrounded by can hear. Her group aims to address that.
Cheek says she is impressed by the level of participation she has already seen.
“Since DAG started it has definitely helped because we have been able to gather everyone together. And so I have a mailing list through email and regular mail, that I send our monthly deaf newsletter out to over 700 people,” says Cheek.
However, she says some areas still need vast improvement in the Ozarks.
“Any problem that any family would have is magnified when you have deaf members you are dealing with,” said Cheek.
For example, going to the movies is difficult for families with deaf members. Area cinemas have begun to address the issue by offering selected movies with captioning. However, the choices remain limited. Also, Cheek says communicating with counselors or therapists is difficult for the deaf.
“We need signing counselors for our deaf and hard of hearing. You know they could have an interpreter come to a counseling session. But it’s just not the same as one-on-one, signing back and forth to each other,” said Cheek.
Cheek also adds that there are not enough interpreters in this area and that more are needed. Interpreters are scattered throughout the Ozarks, but often require advance planning, which isn’t always helpful in last-minute situations.
DAG’s presentation will take place at the Library Center tonight at 6:30 p.m. You can find links below to more information. For KSMU New’s, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
Click here for a link to our Community Calendar and information about the event at the Library Center
Click here for more information about DAG