Community Newsletter

February 24, 2021


Peter Bailey,
Head of School
Update from PSD

Masks in public spaces and when people cannot maintain social distancing are required. PSD will limit access for any nonessential visitors or volunteers, and cancel activities involving external groups or organizations until further notice.
After closely monitoring the progression and recent trends of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the 200th Anniversary Gala which was planned to take place this March 2021. read more.......
We honor and celebrate our alumni, not just this month, but every day! This month, in recognition of Black History Month, we take the opportunity to spotlight our Black PSD alumni!
Melissa is a Day Residential Educator at Texas School for the Deaf (TSD). She shares: “PSD has a big spot in my heart. PSD welcomed my family with open arms. It’s important for me to recognize that both sides of my family has been more
Corey works in the Transportation department at PSD. He shares: “My favorite memory was the senior trip to Florida to Universal Studios. My class worked hard to fundraise for the senior trip: selling bagels, candy and..... read more
Taryn is an ASL Tutor at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). Taryn shares: “I have too many good memories to choose from, but I’d say my favorite memory was when my old teacher, Ms. Jaci Urbani took my classmates and me camping.”
Check out our facebook page
all month for more Alumni Spotlights!
Learn about the PA ABLE Savings Program
Free webinar for individuals with disabilities, families and professionals.
A PA ABLE Savings Program account gives individuals with qualified disabilities (Eligible Individuals), and their families and friends a tax-free way to save for a wide range of disability-related expenses while maintaining government benefits. The state and federal tax-free investment options are offered to encourage Eligible Individuals and their families to save private funds to support health, independence, and quality of life.

To help you learn about the important features and benefits of PA ABLE, the Pennsylvania Treasury Department is hosting free webinars.

Some of the topics that we will discuss include: eligibility requirements for opening a PA ABLE account, the federal and state tax benefits of PA ABLE, and how PA ABLE account interacts with current benefits.

Serving Families Using American Sign Language Through Tele-Intervention

Serving Families Using American Sign Language
Through Tele-Intervention 
March 29, 2021
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM 
Connection information will be sent 2 days prior to the session

Join us on Monday, March 29, 2021 for an overview of various apps, techniques, and programs that can be used to create resources and materials aimed to provide ongoing visual language access for young children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Participants will see real examples of digital resources and strategies used with children from birth through age five for both individual and group sessions.  
This session will be presented in American Sign Language by Joanne Geppert and Janell Bunn. Voice interpreters will be provided. If you need any additional accommodations please indicate your need on the registration link at least 2 weeks prior to the webinar. Click here for more information
PA Department of Labor & Industry Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation Services


2021 DHH Summer Academy: Now Accepting Applications!

NEW! Brochure attached.

for Deaf/Hard of Hearing & DeafBlind
High School Students

Application deadline April 1st
Parent orientation July 8th
Virtual Academy July 12-22, 2021
Application - click here

For the letter with more information click here

Nominate A Community Leader Today!! Better Hearing & Speech Month Award!!

Dear Pennsylvania Residents,
Hamilton Relay, the contracted service provider of Pennsylvania Relay, is seeking your assistance in identifying candidates for the Hamilton Relay 2021 Better Hearing and Speech Month Recognition Award.
We are looking for individuals who are hard of hearing, late-deafened or have difficulty speaking and who have been a positive influence in Pennsylvania, demonstrating commitment to volunteerism, leadership, advocacy and enhancing the lives of those around them. The award will be presented during Better Hearing and Speech Month in May. 
Is there someone you wish to nominate for 2021? 

A questionnaire is attached to assist in providing information about your candidate.

Please send your nominations directly to me by April 9th via email, fax or by mail. My contact information is included in my signature below.
Celebrating community leaders during Better Hearing and Speech Month in May is something we look forward to each year. Thank you in advance for your participation in nominating deserving individuals from your community.
Sudan N. Bradley | Hamilton Relay

[ODP-DEAF-HARD-OF-HEARING-DB] COVID-19 Adapted and Accessible Resources

has created many adapted and accessible versions of the CDC's COVID-19 guidance resources. These resources are organized by accessibility type including:
  • Braille
  • Accessible Word Documents and PDFs
  • ASL Resources (are coming!)
  • Simplified Text
COVID-19 Vaccine Sign-up by Regional Counties

Here is more information on where to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine by county from our friends at The Alliance of Community Service Providers.

Click the county below for more information.
*ALL COUNTIES: Note, Rite Aid has run out of vaccines for time being in our area. Check back daily. Rite Aid
PA Department of Labor & Industry
Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

NEW Informational Videos:

"Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine" Video in American Sign Language, including audio.

"After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine"

PA Department of Human Services
Emergency Assistance Program
Has your family lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Apply for emergency assistance at

Contact ODHH
Telephone: 717-783-4912 (v/tty)
Videophone: 717-831-1928 (videophone)

Melissa A. Hawkins MS, MHR | Director
PA Department of Labor & Industry | Office for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing
1521 North 6th Street | Harrisburg, PA 17102
Phone & TTY: 800-233-3008 (PA only) | Phone & TTY: 717.783.4912
Fax: 717.783.4913,
Need assistance during COVID-19? Need help paying for groceries? Call today to see if you’re eligible for public benefits!

BenePhilly Hotline (844) 848-4376
FAQ: COVID-19 Vaccine

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
about the vaccine.

Don’t see your question listed? Visit for more FAQs and updates about the vaccine.

The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (PhilaOEM) has a text alert system all about COVID-19. Text COVIDPHL to 888-777 to receive updates to your phone. Message and data rates may apply.


Melissa Draganac-Hawk, President, NAD

NEW! COVID-19: Video-Based Telehealth Accessibility for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Patients
COVID 19 Resources for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Families
Download the
COVID Alert PA App

The COVID Alert PA app notifies you if you have had a potential exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The more Pennsylvanians that download the app, the more successful we will be in stopping the spread of the virus.
Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated.
We Prepare Everyday (Video with open captions, ASL and audio description)
From Jamaica to U.S., here’s the story of the first female deaf Black lawyer who advised Obama Claudia Gordon, Esq.

Claudia Gordon was eight years old in rural Jamaica when she suddenly developed severe pain in her middle ears. Her aunt, Mildred Taylor, took her to a small clinic but with no doctor on duty, the nurse couldn’t determine what was wrong. Gordon became deaf. read more......

Check out the "Owning Otherness" Ted Talk

Captioned Telephone Service Study
Many members of HLAA use a captioned telephone service, also known as internet Protocol (IP)-based Captioned Telephone Services (IP-CTS). The Rochester Institute of Technology and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (RIT/NTID) is seeking participants for an important study to assess current IP-CTS Telephone Services applications. This study is sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

IP-CTS allows a person with hearing loss to speak and listen to another party while simultaneously reading captions of what the other party is saying. The study will provide information to help determine the requirements for future captioned phone services. This study will assess the captioned phone services from the user’s perspective. Data collected will include captioned service performance and usability feedback from users. Participation in this study will be online.
QUALIFICATIONS: To qualify for participation, one must meet all of the following requirements: Be 18 years old or older. Be able to read English fluently. Have a hearing loss and use a hearing aid or cochlear implant
o  Use a standard telephone or a cell phone Or
o  Have used a captioned telephone

Have a computer with a web camera and an Internet connection
Are familiar with Zoom technology

COMPENSATION: $50 Amazon eGift Card sent by email
CONTACT: If you are interested in participating or have questions about the study, please contact: Donna Easton: by email and add “Phone Captioning” in the email subject line.
Rochester Institute of Technology, NTID Center on Access Technology
Announcement from the DC Area Black Deaf Advocates (DCABDA)
Hello Community, 
Social Security Administration (SSA) now has Deaf Customer Services representatives to assist Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. If you have any question or issue regarding Social Security, you can send an email with your name, email and VP number to:
One of the representatives will contact you on VP. The hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Pacific time).
PA Housing Finance Agency

Housing listing in the following counties:
Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allegheny, Franklin and Indiana

Deaf Mental Health and Substance Use Resources
Find Support in your Area 
Monthly Calendar of Disability events to see!
How to Videos on Access

2nd Conversation: Disabled Black Perspective
with Chuck Horton
More weekly programming!!
Black American Sign Language (BASL): Black Deaf Canadians Seek More Research,
Support for Community
With nearly 400,000 followers on TikTok, 22-year-old Nakia Smith is teaching her online audiences a hidden treasure: Black American Sign Language (BASL).

The influencer, also known by her sign name — a name members of the Deaf community are given or make themselves — Charmay, she creates educational content celebrating BASL that sometimes features her five-generation family, all of whom are deaf. Read more. 
World Federation of the Deaf News
We have launched this special 70th Anniversary logo to commemorate our 70 years of work for sign languages and deaf people's human rights.

Launched at the 1999 World's Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, the color blue in the ribbon is based on the WFD's official colors. Read more
“Life and Deaf” Life and Deaf Brings Disability Inclusion to the Sitcom World Life and Deaf is a Disney+ series in the works that’s already drawing interest and anticipation from subscribers. The comedy series will star Marlee Matlin, known for The West Wing, Switched at Birth, and The L Word. Matlin is also the only deaf actress to win an Academy Award for her role in Children of a Lesser God. Read more
Pennsylvania Relay is excited to announce the launch of our desktop Real-Time Text Trial!

We are looking for testers in Pennsylvania to participate in a free trial that meet the following criteria:
  • Deaf or combined Deaf & Low Vision
  • Have high speed internet
  • Willing to complete online surveys sharing your experience
  • Willing to use the device for 90 days
This trial will test first-of-its-kind technology that brings Real-Time Text (RTT) capabilities to a digital desktop phone. RTT phones may be a replacement for TTY machines and an enhancement to Video Relay Service. RTT allows both parties to communicate with both voice and text at the same time which allows for a smoother, more real-time experience.

To learn more about the amazing opportunity to test this innovative phone, register to attend on our webinars on Tuesday, March 2.

If you are unavailable to attend the webinar, contact Customer Care at or 800-618-4781 for more information. Or join the trial here!

Contact us to participate: or 800-618-4781.
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) will launch a one-year pilot program offering no-interest, no-fee financial loans between $100 and $7,000 to Pennsylvanians with disabilities and older adults for the purchase of needed assistive technology devices and services that help them remain independent, safe, healthy, and connected during the pandemic. Read the official press release here. See links below.

We’ve created a COVID-19 Unmet Needs survey for any of our Liberty affiliated consumers to complete (or a staff member/attendant to complete on behalf of consumer). We are not guaranteeing these items to be available/delivered but will try our hardest to match needs and deliver items.  Please take the survey HERE.

Whether you love someone who is deaf, are deaf yourself, or just want to learn ASL language, this program is for you. We’ve tailored our lesson plans to fit your specific needs. To learn more, click on the categories at the website that best fits your situation.
The National Deaf Center has a wide range of materials that are great for working with the deaf population. Please visit the website:

Cap4Kids Updated Link to the website for services and resources including food, housing, utility, self care, etc.

FREE Food sites 
To sign up for Cap4Kids emails, click here 
All content can be translated into over 30 languages by clicking at the top of the page’s drop down and Cap4Kids is mobile friendly. Just download to your homepage.
Serving Berks County and surrounding communities since 1989

Keep up with the latest updates from Abilities in Motion.
You may be eligible for no-cost telephone captioning from CaptionCall.

ASL Interpreted Facebook videos
NEW! Caption Call MOBILE
Sign up for Caption Call Connection Newsletter HERE | 877-557-2227

Catholic Deaf Philly
Our Daily Hope – Vlog Reflection

Year of St. Joseph
Beginning February 14th, we will be using the book, Consecration to St. Joseph for a daily vlog to reflect on St. Joseph and prepare for the prayer of consecration to St. Joseph on March 19, 2021. Read more....

Sr. Kathleen Schipani, IHM
Director, Office for Persons with Disabilities & Deaf Apostolate
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
222 N. 17th Street, Philadelphia PA 19103
215.587.3913 phone /267.507.1215 video phone
Consider a gift today to help PSD continue the important work we do for our Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing students.

United Way #737
Combined Federal Campaign #87714
or click below.

We thank you for your support!

Please forward comments and announcements for posting considerations to:
Karen Leslie-Henry, Community Relations Coordinator:
Content Disclaimer
The information contained in the e-newsletter is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and while we endeavor to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the newsletter or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the e-newsletter for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of this e-newsletter. Through this e-newsletter you are able to link to other websites that are not under the control of PSD. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.