Community Newsletter

March 10, 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.
Very Special Thanks, Part I
to Storm Smith for her support to engage Warren "Wawa" Snipe as our guest speaker for Black History Month on February 26th!!
Storm Smith delivered a thank you and an amazing introduction to Wawa who totally WOWED the entire campus with his unique engaging style and presence! Wawa is an actor and Dip Hop recording artist who brilliantly performed the National Anthem and America the Beautiful in ASL at Super Bowl LV
on February 7, 2021.

Wawa, a Philadelphia native, shared wisdom and personal stories from his life experiences about growing up, his education journey, and about building confidence as you develop, work toward & follow your dreams; all through with laughter, a positive attitude and that great smile! Wawa tailored his presentations for each student group, including a storytime session with our youngest and their families! Goose bumps all around!

We are thankful and honored to welcome Storm Smith and
Warren "Wawa" Snipe to the PSD family!

Very Special Thanks, Part II
In recognition of Black History Month, we were also proud to spotlight over 35 Black PSD alumni including 13 members of the PSD Sports Hall of Fame! Many thanks to all who participated in the Alumni Spotlight feature. We are so proud! Be sure to check them all out on our facebook page!

I Can! You Can! We Can! PSD Can!
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.......
NEW! Past issues of the PSD Community Newsletter are posted at
We Need Your Opinions!
With the support of the Healthspark Foundation, DHCC is doing a pilot research program, to collect information about issues that confront the Deaf, hard of hearing and DeafBlind communities. The first step is gathering some preliminary information. We are asking you to follow the link below to a simple survey which should take about 6 minutes to complete. This small contribution of your time will be vital to our community.
We are interested in the experience of the Deaf, hard of hearing and DeafBlind communities when getting information and services from various organizations, ranging from hospitals to food banks and shelters. 
This information will be kept confidential and only used for the purposes of helping our community.
You will be contacted if you are selected to participate in focus groups as well.

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Time: 7 p.m. ET, 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT, 4 p.m. PT
Duration: 90 minutes

Federal and state disability laws are intended to bring people with all manner of disabilities, including hearing loss, into the mainstream of public life. But implementing those laws in practice is up to affected individuals. How well do you understand your accessibility rights? What steps can or should you take if you feel your rights have been denied? Read more.......
ASL Story Time: The Snowy Day

Day: Saturday, March 13
Time: 11:30 – 12:00 PM EST

Johnny Jackson will present this classic story by Ezra Jack Keats. It won a Caldecott award and is the #1 book on the New York Public Library’s list of “Top Check Outs of All Time.” ASL Story Time is a fun family activity designed to strengthen literacy skills in both ASL and English. 


Virtual Undergraduate Openhouses & Parent Webinars
March - June 2021

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.


We are launching the new round of the COVID-19 Travel Survey for Winter 2021. This innovative approach to customer communications is designed to provide the opportunity to share your views and suggestions on issues relating to our services. It would be great if you could help us by providing your feedback. The survey ends on March 19, 2021. 

Here are the links:

Thank you for participating. Your voice matters.

Join Us for our Upcoming CAFE Webinar
Creating with Access in Mind
March 24th, 2021 | 3pm - 4:30pm EST
Zoom | FREE
Captions and ASL interpretation will be provided for this webinar.

Art-Reach partnered with eight arts and cultural institutions in the Philadelphia region on a grant-funded project to create short accessible videos with a simple premise: Tell us a story. These ENCORE at Home videos were embedded with verbal description, ASL interpretation, and captioning. In collaboration with Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs (ODP), we asked self-advocates to watch the videos and provide feedback. Krista Lewis, Deaf, and Nontraditional Communication Professional will share their feedback along with her expertise and assessment of this project and insights on how the arts and cultural sector can build more accessible content online.

Presented by: Krista Lewis, Deaf and Nontraditional Communication Professional, ODP
March 26
Deaf Social Group in American Sign Language, 2:00-3:00 PM. Socialize with old friends and meet new people. Discuss what is happening in the world. Learn about Deaf rights. This is a group for people who wish to interact through American Sign Language. Meeting will be by zoom and consumers can contact Igor by email to get the zoom invite. Email: or Call Igor 267-507-1178 (VP)
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.
Sudan N. Bradley | Hamilton Relay

New! From CDC:
 Find Vaccine - VaccineFinder

The FEMA Office of Disability Integration Advisor's team is working with the City of Philadelphia Department of Public Health to support the Pennsylvania Convention Center (PCC) Vaccination Site. The PCC site will be offering the 1st vaccination for two more weeks. This will allow time to schedule the 2nd vaccination. 

We are currently open seven days a week, with operation hours from 8am to 8pm. The following accommodations are provided to ensure the process is smooth and welcoming for communities:

Voice Remote Interpreter (VRI)
Two Live American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters
Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) In-Person


U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Office of Disability Integration & Coordination

[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 Email: l 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,

FAQ: COVID-19 Vaccine
For answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the vaccine. CLICK HERE

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

The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (PhilaOEM) 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

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)

ASL Therapists in Philadelphia

Deaf Mental Health and Substance Use Resources
Find Support in your Area
Zoom adding automatic closed captioning
for all free accounts
Zoom plans to roll out support for automatic closed captioning to free accounts this fall as part of its efforts to make the service more accessible, the company has announced. If you’re a free account holder who needs access to the feature before then, Zoom is allowing users to manually request access to the Live Transcription feature via a Google Form linked to in its announcement.

The National Black Disability Coalition (NBDC) Scholarship Program is accepting applications from Black disabled high school students who will be graduating this spring. 
The 2021 award is $10,000 to be distributed half in the first semester and additional half in the second semester contingent upon a first semester minimum GPA of 2.0.

A complete application package MUST be submitted to the Scholarship Program committee no later than March 15, 2021. The package consists of a completed Scholarship Program Application form, a typewritten essay, a completed certification of academic standing form, and at least one personal recommendation. Read more.......

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

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. 

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.

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.

The National Deaf Center
has a wide range of materials that are great for working with the deaf population. Please visit the website:

Serving Berks County and surrounding communities since 1989

Keep up with the latest updates from Abilities in Motion.
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.
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!

NEW! Past issues of the PSD Community Newsletter are posted at
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.