Deaf Refugee AdvocacySpotlight on 2021 COVID-19 Emergency Response Microgrant Awardees
Providing Support at the Unique Intersection of ‘Deaf’ and ‘New American’
Deaf Refugee Advocacy (DRA) was founded in Rochester, NY in 2017 in response to the unmet needs of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (D/HH) New Americans—including refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers—in the community. After finding that D/HH New Americans are frequently not given the same access to resources as their hearing peers, DRA built a robust offering of educational opportunities in ASL, English, computer basics, driving instruction, as well as job training and support accessing government aid.
DRA also partners with service providers throughout the region, including refugee resettlement services, the local police, legal aid providers, and more, to provide guidance on best practices in serving D/HH New Americans.
Deaf New Americans and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, increased disparities in accessing essential services have come to light across the deaf community, and this has been true for the D/HH New Americans DRA serves. As much of the country’s working, educational, and social lives went “virtual” at the height of the pandemic, DRA found that many D/HH New Americans did not have reliable internet access.
As a result, the Foundation awarded the DRA a microgrant award to fund their work helping D/HH New American families establish internet access, and subsidizing that access for up to a year if a family cannot afford it. Internet access enables families to have a video phone at home, to access virtual learning for children, and to tap into DRA’s now-online educational course offerings.
Microgrant funding will also support DRA’s efforts to create outreach materials to connect with potential partner organizations and other unreached D/HH New Americans in the region. These materials will include a documentary featuring D/HH New American stories, as well as a revamped DRA website that makes services and materials easier to access. The website, which will incorporate more ASL into the navigation and materials of the site, will improve linguistic access for English language learners.
“The Foundation’s funding is enabling us to expand our outreach so that a greater number of people are able to benefit from our services and expertise,” said Diana Pryntz, DRA’s Executive Director. In addition to supporting D/HH New Americans with critical internet service and a more accessible website, the microgrant will allow DRA “to share and celebrate D/HH New Americans’ unique experiences, rich culture, and resiliency with the underlying message of the importance of having service providers utilize the American Deaf community as a vital resource.”
More Microgrant Awardees
Want to learn more about the awardee cohort? Check out 5 other organizations who received COVID-19 Emergency Response microgrant funding here, or stay up to date with Foundation news by subscribing to our newsletter.
Deaf Refugee Advocacy is dedicated to ensuring that Rochester-based D/HH refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers have access to critical services. When you donate to CSD Unites Community Foundation, you’re helping us dedicate funds and resources to multiple nonprofits like DRA, so they’re better-equipped to sustain or grow the critical services they provide for our deaf communities. Make a one-time or monthly contribution to the CSD Unites Community Foundation here!