Oregon Department of Justice, Crime Victims’ Service Division has awarded Bridges Oregon a 3-years grant of $355,100. This organization is one of twelve award recipients who will deliver meaningful access to services for victims within marginalized & oppressed communities across the State of Oregon. The funds from the Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) Culturally Specific & Culturally Responsive Competitive Program grant will support the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing victims of crimes and receive free advocacy service in the legal system.

Bridges Oregon is a statewide nonprofit agency established in July 2017 after repeated efforts to call for attention with our Oregon legislature in 2007, 2009, 2015, 2017, and 2019. There is only one thing that came from all these efforts was some funding to implement a community-based needs assessment study where we saw there has been a significant disparity in access for services especially in the legal system among the Oregonians who themselves are Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing.

The national study shows 1 in 4 American have hearing loss. In a separate study shows the number of 1,058,068 individuals are living with hearing loss and 4,021 individuals uses sign language to communicate in the state of Oregon

“This VOCA grant marks our very first and most important grant to address the needs in this marginalized community,” Executive Director Chad A. Ludwig says. Bridges Oregon will employ a full time Client Advocate to provide advocacy/accompaniment services to support the victims achieve positive outcomes in four basic need areas VOCA supports; healing, safety, justice and economic re-stabilization.

This grant allows Bridges Oregon serves D/deaf, DeafBlind, deaf-blind, deaf with additional disability, hard of hearing, late-deafened, and/or persons with unilateral/bilateral hearing loss victims of crime e.g., abuse, arson, assault, bullying, burglary, dating victimization, domestic violence, DUI/DWI, financial abuse, hate crime, identity theft, neglect, robbery, sexual assault, stalking/harassment, systemic discrimination, violation of a court order, and provides outreach service to the general community.

“We are thankful for the impact a VOCA grant has on the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community,” Ludwig says. “We will use the funds from the VOCA grant to continue our mission: to facilitate equity, inclusiveness and provide a bridge to opportunities through advocacy, education and communication.” We will go through a 6-months implementation period and we will begin our service to the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing community in summer of 2021.

About Bridges Oregon:
Bridges Oregon is a nonprofit for Oregonians who are Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing or face other communication barriers. It is in our mission to facilitate equity, inclusiveness and provide a bridge to opportunities through advocacy, education and communication. Learn more at www.bridgesoregon.org and a new site is forthcoming.