Paths to Healing in the Deaf Community
Deaf Unity, through this innovation grant, used video platform and American Sign Language to illuminate the experiences of Deaf survivors of violence and trauma.
They created a series of videos showing interviews with Deaf survivors of crime who shared their experiences, the impact of their traumatic event(s), and their paths to healing. Additional videos were created to instruct viewers on how to recognize symptoms of stress and trauma, when to implement self-care techniques or to seek help, examples of self-care techniques, and how to create a plan for healing. All videos featured people from the Deaf community as well as reflect the diversity of that community, including individuals from the LGBT community, people of color, and older adults.
Deaf Unity is the only agency in Wisconsin providing a spectrum of culturally competent and linguistically accessible services to support, empower, and educate Deaf survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, dating violence, child abuse, human trafficking, stalking, and other crimes. Together, they instill hope within Deaf survivors and guide them on a path free from violence.
Deaf Unity began in 2005, and founded in 2008 by Deaf community professional and grassroots leaders and supporters from the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (now called End Abuse Wisconsin), The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Department of Health and Family Services (now called Department of Health Services), and the Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. It was recognized that there was a truly significant need for American Sign Language (ASL) based services for Deaf victims experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Before Deaf Unity was formed, Deaf victims faced numerous barriers in getting services from mainstream domestic violence and sexual assault programs, because they did not have advocates who knew ASL and could communicate with Deaf victims, or did not know how or where to get qualified interpreters for services. Deaf Unity provides direct services, co-advocacy services, children and youth programming, cultural competency trainings, resources, and survivor support retreats.