Bridges Oregon: 3rd Annual Community Updates

March 21, 2023

Agency Update

on our programs and services

Powerpoint Slides (link)
The 1 hour and 5 minutes video is accessible in ASL, captioning, and voice interpretation.
The transcript is available below.

Bridges 3rd Annual Community Update 3/21/23 – English Transcript

Chad:  Hello everyone! My name is Chad Ludwig, and I am the executive director of Bridges Oregon. I want to welcome you to our 3rd annual community update. I’m really excited about all the great things happening with Bridges! So, I want to share all of that with you and will be joined by members of the Bridges team who will jump in to share their updates as well.

So now that I have introduced myself, let’s move on. Next slide please. I want to start with a land acknowledgment. You can access the video by watching the ASL presentation, or by reading the captioning or script in English. There will be no voice interpretation for this video segment.

[Video plays]

Chad: Next slide please. I want to share that Bridges is an organization of, by, for and with Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard of Hearing and those who are Deaf with additional disabilities in Oregon. Our mission is to facilitate equity, inclusiveness, and to provide a bridge to opportunities through advocacy, education, and communication. Next slide please.

In 2021, we became the first and only linguistic and culturally specific and responsive non-profit statewide organization in Oregon to provide advocacy, education and communication services to individuals who are Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing in Oregon. Next slide please.

Next, I would like to introduce the Bridges Oregon board of directors. First, we have Rian Gayle who is the Chair of the Board who is going to appear now to give you his board update. Rian?

Rian: Hi my name is Rian Gayle and I have been a member of the Bridges board for the past two years before becoming the board chair. Currently, our board is comprised of 11 members – a mix of both Deaf and hearing folks. Our board has six individuals who are Deaf, Deaf with an additional disability, Hard-of-Hearing, or CODA, and five hearing individuals. Some of our hearing board members have experience interacting with or working in the Deaf Community, for example: former interpreters or those who have served the community in other ways. But we are always looking for more folks who are interested in joining the board so we can increase its size. If you are interested in joining the board or know someone who is, go to the slides and click on the “Apply” link you see on the slide, and we will be in touch to see if you are a good fit for the board! The process is quite easy.

Our board has done a lot of work thus far including establishing several subcommittees. These committees include: the executive board committee (which is solely made up of executive board members), we have the financial subcommittee, the fundraising subcommittee, policy and procedure subcommittee, the media and marketing subcommittee, and the 2nd Annual Pancakes with the Grinch event planning committee. With the exception of the executive board subcommittee, you are not required to be on the board to participate as a member of any of the other subcommittees including the planning committee for the 2nd Annual Pancakes with the Grinch event.

Over the past 12 months, the board has accomplished several goals. We hosted our first annual fundraising event which resulted in raising over $10,000 in funds! Lots of folks showed up to take pictures with the Grinch and eat some delicious food. We have also established our first 12-month fiscal plan. We also hosted our second annual board retreat where the board members were able to discuss and provide input on various issues of importance to Bridges in terms of future planning. The first retreat was held last year, and the second was held this year.

The board also wrote, established, and worked to improve its financial policies and procedures. We are excited to have completed this task because not only do we have these policies in place now, but many of the organization who provide us grant funding expect us to have these policies established to comply with grant requirements. So having these policies and procedures in writing, ready to go, increases our chances of receiving grant awards in the future.

We’re also excited to announce that we have filled the long-vacant role of Board Treasurer! We are thrilled that now we have someone to support our organization in this way in terms of making sure everything is financially in order.

There have been numerous other achievements made by the board. We meet every three months (quarterly) and we look forward to achieving more in the future. Thank you!

Chad:  Next I would like to share some of the milestones we’ve achieved over the last while. Next slide please.

We have partnered with an organization called Avant Assessment to launch a computer-adaptive ASL proficiency test. We have also transitioned from providing advocacy services to only Marion and Polk counties, to providing these services statewide. We have also launched our communication facilitator (CF) program which has been running since January of 2023. Next slide please.

Sammi and I recently completed 20 hours of transformative and restorative justice basic training with a few other Deaf sister agencies from around the U.S. This training included learning about and understanding abolitionist work.

As of January 1, 2023, Bridges began offering health, vision, and dental insurance to our two full-time employees. Other offered benefits include short-term and long-term disability leave, an EAP (employee assistance program), life insurance, and more.

We are very close to receiving our Medicaid-endorsement Agency Certification. We have also been awarded several grants. Finally, we have received several awards including the MAPS Community Award and the NAD (National Association of the Deaf) Excellence Award. Next slide.

Now I’d like to provide you with a financial update including historical information as well as plans for our future. Next slide.

Bridges Oregon has been running now for five years. We were established in 2017. As you can see from the graph, for the first few years we ran on a shoestring, mostly through small donations. But regardless of the donations being small, they were very important revenue sources because they helped us grow as an organization to where we are today. So, the first big uptick in revenue happened in 2021-22 when we received our first grant from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). This grant was a three-year grant, and this year, 2023, is our third and final year of administering this grant. We will continue to re-apply for this grant funding every three years.

From mid-2022 through 2023, we have been awarded several other grants, increasing our funding base. We expect to receive a few more grants by spring of 2023. Our budget for 2023-2024 has grown to $1 million. Next slide.

This slide shows a list of our funding sources to give you an idea of what we’re talking about. As you can see, the VOCA grant is $355,000 over three years (so divide $355,000 by three to get an annual award amount of around $115,000 per year). You can look at the rest of the numbers on the slide to see what other grant awards we’ve received.

The last two items on the list have a hot pink notation next to them, and these grants have been awarded as of March 16th (last week). The second one is the ARPA Community Capacity grant which will help us to expand our line of services in the employment area. We will cover that program a bit later in the update. The ARPA grant will be $426,000 awarded over the course of 18 months. Receiving this grant is a monumental step forward for our agency. Next slide please.

This slide shows the number of volunteer hours provided to Bridges Oregon. Please note these are rough estimates, and not at all exact. It is a challenge to track all of the volunteer hours that everyone has contributed to Bridges, and I’m sure there are many more than what are on the slide. I feel it’s really important to recognize and thank our many volunteers who have committed to supporting and furthering the goals of our agency. As I said, I am sure there are many more hours that have been contributed to Bridges than what are represented on the slide, and we are so grateful.

I want to share with you two different organizational charts. The first shows where we are today, and the second shows what the organization will look like once we complete our expansion of services. This is truly an exciting time for Bridges! Again, this next slide shows where we are right now. Next slide.

The hot pink squares are those positions that are volunteers. The light purple squares are contractors, and the dark purple squares are both part-time and full-time employees. Now, if you’ll notice there are only two full-time employees: the VOCA advocate, and the Communication Facilitator (CF) coordinator. I, as the executive director, am a part-time employee at this time, because I am still a full-time employee at the university. So this is what the organizational chart has looked like for the last while.

Next, I want to show you the projected organizational chart for the upcoming future. You will notice that we will transition from two full-time employees, to around 15 full-time employees working for the agency. Next slide, please.

As you can see by the updated organizational chart, the board of directors is now assisted by five subcommittees. For more information about each of the subcommittees, please see the information on our website. You will also notice that the number of full and part time employees have increased, and we expect to open more positions in the near future.

Our next open position to be released will be for an accountant. This position is critical to fill to support the agency and its expansion as well as helping increase oversight and operations, financially. Clearly, this is an exciting time for the agency and an exciting time in Oregon history as well!!

We wanted to update you next about our program offerings. Can I see the next slide, please? Ok, you will see there are four programs listed that have the word “NEW” beside them. I will talk more about those programs later, but first let’s start with our Advocacy and Accompaniment Services Program. Next slide.

I would like to introduce you all to our VOCA advocate, Sammi. Sammi?

Sammi: Hello everyone! I’m Sammi! I am happy to be here with you all. I wanted to talk with you all a bit about advocacy and accompaniment services. I’m really excited about this. Next slide.

First, I want to talk with you a bit about what services we provide. We received grant money from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to help provide services to survivors of physical, sexual, financial, or emotional harm as the result of a crime. Not only do we serve the victims of the actual crime, but we also serve those who may have indirectly or vicariously experienced the results of the crime (for example: a significant other or children of a victim might have witnessed the situation/crime). To date, Bridges has served over 75 Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing victims and survivors under this grant.

Next, I’d like to talk about the Office of Violence against Women (OVW) grant. This is a new grant we applied for and were awarded. We are super excited about it. We have completed interviews and hired another advocate to provide services under this grant. The OVW grant specifically serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. While this may seem like it duplicates services provided under the VOCA grant, the VOCA grant also includes several general crimes in addition to the ones covered under the OWA grant. So, there is a bit of overlap there.

Our new advocate will begin on April 3rd. I just talked with them last week. We had an excellent pool of applicants and we’re thrilled to have selected one. Next slide please.

I would like to introduce our new advocate, Al Mascaranas who is trans, Latinx, and indigenous and Deaf. Al has many years of experience in advocacy for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Al is also a consultant for the Deaf Action Training and Technical Assistance Team (For more information, visit: As I mentioned, Al will start on April 3rd, and we are really excited to have him join us. I’ve met Al a few times when I was new at this work and have learned and will continue to learn a lot from him!

Let’s move on to the next slide where I will turn things over to Wolfgang!

Wolfgang:  Hello! I’m Wolfgang. I am currently the coordinator for the Communication Facilitator (CF) program. Next slide please.

I want to give you an idea of what my program does. Communication Facilitators (CFs) are specially trained or experienced professionals who provide effective communication access to individuals who are DeafBlind and use tactile or close visual communication methods or who have mobility challenges making their expressive communication more difficult to understand to make video calls, Zoom calls, or VP calls. Next slide please.

We have been providing this service since January 2, 2023, and are thrilled to offer this service to all thirty-six counties across Oregon. Right now we have more than 10 contracted Communication Facilitators, and the numbers are growing. We have had more than twenty-one requests for services to date from consumers who are DeafBlind or Deaf Plus. We expect the demand for these services to grow soon.

We will hold four different open houses to introduce these services to the community in Portland, Salem, Bend and Medford. Bend and Medford will have their open houses first, and then later we will host the Portland and Salem open houses. If you or someone you know is unable to attend one of the regional open houses, please contact me and we can set a date for a 1:1 meeting to discuss the program and how it might be helpful for you or others. Thanks! Next, let’s move on to Chris!

Chris:  Hello everyone!! I am so excited to join the Bridges team! Whoo hoo! I am the director of employment and independent living services. I’m really excited and looking forward to seeing the team expand! Next slide please.

I am Deaf, and I have been doing this kind of work (employment and independent living services) for the past 17 years, serving the Deaf/DeafBlind/Deaf+ –( and Deaf+ means individuals who are Deaf and have an additional developmental or other disability) – and Hard of Hearing communities through providing direct language access and culturally competent services, rather than what often happens when Deaf populations try to access hearing-based services with providers who don’t know how to interact with them or instead of having to communicate through an interpreter. I can provide direct access to services instead. I look forward to working with you all!

I have been involved in advocacy work for many years and have served on several boards of organizations that address issues impacting the Deaf Community. Advocacy is SO important in terms of not having other people telling us what we can and can’t do. Advocacy helps others understand that we can do anything we want to do! Next slide please.

This slide says, “Under Construction.” Let me give you some information about what this means. My team currently works for PCL or Partners in Community Living. This organization has both Deaf and hearing tracks of services. Once Bridges receives its Medicaid endorsement certification, my team from PCL will transition over to being a part of Bridges Oregon. Our team is thrilled to become a part of a Deaf agency and to be able to provide direct services in this way. We’re excited to be part of an all-Deaf/signing environment and can’t wait to get started. Next slide please.

This graphic represents some of the services that we will provide in the employment services area. I will flesh this out more on the next slide.

Our employment services team can help you open a file with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), if you’d like to use their services to search for a job. We can help you explore your job interests and determine what kind of job you might want. This doesn’t mean the job that your parents or someone else wants you to get, but what the job that YOU want. We can help you build up your skills in the area of work you want to do, or in terms of skills you need to interview for jobs. We can provide practice interview sessions because many folks are nervous about interviewing and want to practice this to build their confidence. We can help you plan your career and what it might look like for the future. We can aid you in developing a college education plan, for example if you want to go to Gallaudet or RIT or another college that is a good fit for your goals. We can also help if you already have a job but are experiencing challenges in communication. We can help your employer understand what sorts of accommodations will allow you to access communication effectively. We are happy to provide that sort of employer education. Next slide.

Independent living services are specifically life skills. This graphic gives you a general idea of what those include, but I will talk more about this on the next slide.

Independent living services include accessing community and state resources such as the DMV, Social Security (SSI or SSDI payments that you receive monthly) and making sure you are not overpaid or your monthly payments are decreased due to your outside work. We also help with DHS services, emergency and non-emergency services, and food stamps or other entitlement programs. We can help our clients navigate all these programs and resources which aren’t often learned about at residential schools for the Deaf. We are here to help everyone who needs assistance figuring out how to use these programs. We want to promote Deaf people’s independence rather than them having to rely on their parents or others to do everything for them. Deaf people are perfectly capable of doing these things for themselves.

We also help folks with banking, budgeting, and finances. We can help with setting up a bank account, navigating spending and direct deposits, reporting wages or income to social security to avoid overpayments. We can help people develop a budget so they understand what they need to do in terms of not recklessly spending but instead, saving money for rent, groceries and utilities so they don’t come up short every month. We can help people understand how to pay their own bills and maintain their budgets properly on their own. Next slide.

Next, we offer training in self-advocacy. This teaches people how to request accommodations such as interpreters. Self-advocacy is especially important. Many people believe that hearing people are the ones who need to deal with accommodations on behalf of Deaf people, but this is not the case. We can do this for ourselves. Deaf folks might need interpreters for meetings, interviews, assessments/evaluations, work trainings and more. We explain about cultural differences between the Deaf and hearing worlds and how to navigate those differences in the workplace. This helps Deaf employees build their confidence at work.

Our program can help identify a Deaf employee’s support team, and communicate their goals and support needs to their employers. We can also help with technical assessments and training for workplaces. For example, if you don’t know how to use an iPad or how to use it at work, we can help you learn how to use this technology or any other technology that might be used as an accommodation at work. We can train folks on all kinds of technology. Next slide.

Now I would like to introduce you to some of our employment team members. Nyssa Vaughn is employed as a business administrator. She does a number of things to keep things running within our program. In brief, Nyssa is a CODA which means she has Deaf parents. She will be responsible for maintaining and developing positive business relationships as well as partnerships with VR counselors, county service coordinators, brokerage personal assistants and managing referrals from all educational representatives to Bridges’ programs. She is an amazing woman! Nyssa will also be responsible for managing all fee for service contracts, service agreements, billing and other administrative support. It is a LOT of work. She’s an incredible worker and I look forward to seeing what she can bring to the growth of Bridges.

Our next employment team member is Holly Hartman who is Deaf. Holly is an employment and independent living specialist. Holly is a fantastic lady who is a huge asset to our team. She is a former Arizona VR counselor, however, after a while in that field, she realized it was not the best fit for her and transitioned into working as an employment and independent living specialist. Holly has thrived in this new position and loves her job. She has a great deal of knowledge related to supporting Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf+ and Hard of Hearing populations in attaining employment.  I’ve seen her successes and she’s just incredible at what she does. Next slide.

Monica Cruikshank is our next team member. This lady is amazing. She is Deaf and has extensive knowledge and experience in supporting Deaf people who are intellectually or developmentally disabled (I/DD) in their communities, homes and workplaces. She’s worked with group homes and employers to support I/DD individuals and our team is constantly impressed with what Monika brings to the table. She’s just another member of our top-notch team!

I have another bit of exciting news to share with you. Our team will be hiring for two more employment and independent living specialists in the next few months! Keep an eye on your email newsletters and our website for those positions to be announced!

Julie:  Hello! I am Julie Reis. I work with housing services. My responsibility is to make sure that the Fair Housing Council of Oregon ( information provided on video, is accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. Historically, the information on the FHCO website has not been widely accessible but the information provided is critically important. So, Bridges contacted FHCO with a list of suggestions such as providing closed-captioning for their videos (among others) to make their content more accessible. FHCO was open to these suggestions and agreed to provide captions on their videos. This will allow any Deaf person going to to watch the captioned videos and learn how to access the resources offered by FHCO.

Bridges’ housing services program provides resources such as communication access services during interactions with a landlord or property manager during the application process, if issues arise, or to participate in HOA meetings. Bridges can help with financial assistance to help folks get into an apartment or house such as assistance with an application fee, deposit or move-in costs.

Bridges can also assist with reasonable accommodations such as provision of visual smoke alarms. Sometimes apartments only have ONE fire alarm regardless of the apartment having multiple rooms. We work with landlords to make sure that all rooms have visual smoke alarms for Deaf tenants. Sometimes getting the proper alarms installed can be challenging because an apartment’s existing system might be hardwired rather than battery operated. We communicate with the Deaf tenant to find out what other accommodations they might need. For example, a visual doorbell alert. Sometimes tenants prefer a video doorbell like a Ring doorbell, however for that doorbell to record video, the tenant must pay for a subscription. Without a subscription, the Ring doorbell is “live” video only (no recording). Bridges would not cover the subscription fee for the recordings for a Ring doorbell, but if an individual wanted to pay for that subscription themselves, they could certainly do that.

Similarly, we would provide visual carbon monoxide detectors or outdoor security lights so Deaf folks can see people who might be approaching their home. Deaf folks are visual, right?! Next, I would like to show you two video testimonials from Deaf people who have used our housing services.

Buffy:  Hmm, next it seems like we should be talking about health services. This is Julie’s part.

Julie: Ah yes, back to me. Sorry for the confusion there. Another service that Bridges will start offering soon is called “Bridges Health Care Training.” The purpose of this training is to educate hearing health care providers. “Health Care” can mean large umbrella organizations providing physical health care services, psychological services, neurologists, mental health care providers, counselors, doctors, nurses, and others. We have been seeking out and hiring presenters, most of whom are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or late-deafened and are experts in collaborating with Deaf people in health care settings to make educational videos that we then have voice interpreted and captioned and will be uploading to our Bridges website. We’ve started this project, but the videos haven’t been released yet. They will be very soon, though.

These videos will be posted soon and available for folks to watch. We will also be posting clips that are specific to information that the Deaf Community needs to know. Deaf folks often don’t have the resources or education to get this information like hearing folks do, so we want to provide health care information to our community. These videos will talk about issues such as self-advocacy and empowerment, and the rights we have in terms of health care. These clips taken from the full-length videos will be free for community members to view. Hearing health care providers who would like to watch the full-length videos will have to pay a fee to access the video content via the website. But the Deaf Community will be able to access the content that is specific to them for FREE which is cool. We are excited for forward movement in this area!

Buffy:  Hi!! I’m Buffy Reis and I am the coordinator of the National Sign Language Assessment (NSLA). Next slide please. Next slide.

The NSLA uses the SLPI (sign language proficiency interview) exam for its testing. This assessment evaluates a candidate’s level of sign language proficiency. In 2021, NSLA partnered with Avant Assessment to launch a computer-adaptive test to evaluate K-12 students’ ASL proficiency. We are really excited to release this next week.

NSLA has a team of 12 raters located across the U.S. in New York, Florida, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Oregon and California which is awesome because candidates using our services in K-12 settings are also located all around the U.S. So, we try to match candidates with raters in their local areas.

In 2023, NSLA processed over 150 requests for evaluation. This is an exciting time for us, and we will continue to grow as we receive more contracts and requests for evaluation services. Ok. That’s all for NSLA!

Chad:  Okay, I would like to go back a few slides. As we’ve said, this organization is quickly growing and changing. We’ve had to go through a pretty steep learning curve, but we’re making our way. I wanted to go back and recognize another member of our team who deserves an equal amount of attention that we missed in our previous update on employment and independent living services.

Erica Brown is another of the PCL employees who will be joining Bridges. She is hearing and her pronouns are she/her/hers. She previously worked as a VR counselor and she has a lot of experience and knowledge about the Deaf/DeafBlind/Deaf+ and Hard of Hearing populations becoming successfully employed. She’s also very proficient in program development and will be a big asset to Bridges once her PCL unit transfers over. She will be the director of program and business development working with everyone in the agency to help determine the trajectory of Bridges’ programs for the future. We are SO excited to have Erica join us! All told, we will eventually have seven members of the PCL joining the Bridges team! We are really looking forward to having them all on board!

Now let’s go back to the previous slide.  I want to touch on each of the hot pink topics briefly. While we do offer ADA Accessibility Assessments, this part of our business has been quiet lately, which is fine, because we have been able to focus our efforts on other things allowing us to grow our program offerings and staff.

A5 Interpreting and Captioning Services has, thus far, mainly been focused on providing interpreting and captioning services for in-house needs. This means, we’ve been providing interpreting and captioning services for needs within Bridges (training, accessible videos, etc.). However, we are hoping to establish a permanent in-house interpreter/captioning scheduler position sometime this year. Once we do this, we can build out our A5 interpreting/captioning referral service to include a much wider clientele which will put us on par and in competition with all the other interpreter referral agencies in the state of Oregon and in other locations as well. I’m looking forward to using my sales skills from my time at ZVRS and Purple Communications to increase our referral business, and make A5 Interpreting the top ASL interpreting agency in the state.

Last but not least, we have added to our list of training opportunities by adding a course in CPR and First Aid. One of our new team members, Nyssa is a certified teacher. While she is hearing, her parents are Deaf, so she is a native user of ASL. She will be teaching CPR and First Aid classes in ASL, so if your Deaf organization is interested in learning CPR or First Aid, provision of this class will be a fee-for-service option provided by Bridges!  This will be another line of business and growth for Bridges.

Now let’s take a look at things going forward. We have talked extensively about our employment services program which will transition over to Bridges very soon.

The Oregon Department of Human Services is going to be releasing an RFP requesting proposals for Co-Navigator/Support Service Providers (SSP). We are awaiting the release of this RFP and will apply for it. We’ll see what happens after that. We have also written a proposal to extend our Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant for another three years.

Within the next three months, we are hoping to secure a physical office space. We have been looking for a location. Once we find a location, we will move everyone from working from home to the physical location and will run things from that office. After years of working from home, remotely, we will finally have a space to call our own! This will be a central location where all Deaf/DeafBlind/Deaf+ and Hard of Hearing people can come to access our services and take advantage of our resources. Please note that our new physical location will NOT be our mailing address. We will continue to keep and use our current mailing address for correspondence.

The next 12 months will see us growing from two full-time employees to 15 by summer of 2023 which is a HUGE staffing increase. Once we go through the process of increasing our staff and integrating our team, we will participate in learning through a diversity, equity and inclusion lens as a full team. We want to make sure that our team has the benefit of both social and transformative justice perspectives to help inform their work. We want to embrace a collective leadership model to navigate our way to providing the best services for our community. This really is an exciting time for Bridges. As always, we will be scouting for additional funding.

Finally, to the point of fundraising, together, we build bridges! There are too many barriers and not enough bridges. PLEASE consider making a financial contribution to this agency to help offset costs and fees and to support the programs we offer. So many expenses come up when running an organization like this, and your financial support helps us provided needed services. To make a donation, please visit the URL on the slide www.bridgesoregon/donate. Next slide.

This month we are fundraising for our own in-house Braille Printer. We know there are some DeafBlind folks around the state that have a tough time getting access to printed materials in Braille. Bridges wants to make sure that the information it is sharing with the community is available in Braille format. To date we have been outsourcing having our documents converted into Braille and it is very expensive. We want to make sure our DeafBlind clients have access to all the same information the rest of our clients have, so having an in-house resource like that will help us achieve this. Having a Braille Printer on site will allow us to print things for clients in real time and will give these clients equal access to that enjoyed by sighted clients. So, this is the next goal we have in terms of a resource we can offer our community. Next slide.

Please save the date, December 2, 2023, for our annual Pancakes with the Grinch fundraiser. Our first annual fundraiser was a HUGE success with over 250 people attending. It was quite amazing! Here’s hoping this year’s event is even bigger. Just a heads up that the Grinch costume got an upgrade for this year so you’ll have to check it out! Next slide.

Bridges Oregon has the HUGE vision of serving Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing Oregonians. Next slide.

We wanted to make you aware of some resources that are available to combat hate, discrimination, and oppression. There is a hotline available that you can access via VRS – this hotline WILL accept ALL VRS calls – called the Oregon Bias Response Hotline. If you happen to witness or experience a hate crime or bias incident (and this includes audism, vidism, and linguism in addition to other isms like racism, etc.) you can call this hotline for support. This hotline will also keep track of incidents of bias/hate and document all reports of these incidents. It’s important that people have a safe place to report these experiences and have them documented. This reporting can help improve things in a variety of ways in the future. You can also visit their website as well ( ). Next slide.

We have several different ways you can follow us, contact us, or learn more information about us. Feel free to check out our socials or website!

This slide lists our mailing address and contact information.

Now I’d like to open things up for questions and answers. If you are hearing and don’t sign, don’t worry, we have ASL interpreters here ready to interpret for you. So, are there any questions?

Chad: The first question is from Karen B. She asks, “Do any of your services cost money??” Our VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) services, Communication Facilitator (CF) services, OVW services, and employment services do not cost anything. Our Training Courses, NSLA assessment, Bridges Health Care Training online platform, are all fee for service – so they cost money. I think that’s it…

Sammi: I’m sorry to jump in but just to let everyone know, the chat is disabled, so if you want to ask a question, please use the Q & A feature at the bottom of the screen to type your question. I can’t seem to change the chat settings while the Zoom meeting is in progress. Thanks!

Chad:  Ok, the next question is from Adam Logan. He asks, “I’m wondering about what your service plan is for the Braille Printer?” The Braille Printer will be housed in the Bridges office, on-site, and the idea is that any printed materials that Bridges produces for distribution will also be printed in Braille as well for those folks who depend on Braille to read.

Another question from Philip – “Do you provide advocacy services for individuals who are survivors of crime involved in the legal system?” Sammi, do you want to answer this one?

Sammi:  Sure. Hi, I’m happy to answer your question. Yes, we do provide advocacy and accompaniment services related to those folks who have experienced crime. This includes support while going to court, sitting for a police interview, working with an attorney, or who are involved with DHS services, and also if someone has to go to the hospital and is subject to a medical exam as a result of a crime, if they prefer our support to their regular support system. I think that’s it for the answer to your question.

Chad: Ok, the next question is from Adam Logan, he asks, “Can someone from outside the agency come in to Bridges and use the Braille Printer?” Our agency will decide whether we will let folks come in to use the printer. More likely than not, there will be a fee associated with using the printer to support the provision of outside resources in Braille.

Any more questions?

Karen B. says, “Thank you so much! I’m wondering does Bridges have its physical location established in Salem now, or is that still in process?”

Chad: I’ll answer that one. We have a location in mind. We have a business/commercial broker realtor who is working to negotiate between Bridges and the landlord of the building, so things are still in process. We are looking to nail down our office location soon, but in terms of when it will be open to the public, we first must make everything beautiful and comfortable, so it isn’t ready yet. Once we have painted and added furniture, plants, and décor we will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration!

Everyone:  Yay! I can’t wait! I’m so excited!!

Julie: Howrad wants to turn on his video to ask his question, but I am trying to figure out how to invite you to turn on your video. I think I will make you a panelist so you have the ability to turn on your video, ok? Howrad are you ready?

Howrad: I know there is a need for lots of diverse groups and programs, but I am wondering if you have something for senior citizens in Oregon?

Chad:  That’s a great question, Howard. I think this is something that the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities need to advocate for with the Oregon Legislature and the Department of Human Services. There is a story behind this. Last year, DHS posted an RFP for an Advocacy and Case Management grant. This grant would have provided funding for us to hire staff who are specialists in working with Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing individuals of ALL ages, including senior citizens.

We applied for this grant and even hired a grant writer that cost us over $5000 to write the grant for us, and we submitted that proposal to DHS. We were ultimately selected and awarded the contract, and proceeded with budget negotiations with DHS. Things were going well, but when the DHS negotiations committee submitted the proposal to the DHS budget office, they said that they needed to be given approval to disburse the funds and there wasn’t any approval within the contract so they couldn’t approve the disbursal. So, the contract was rescinded.

What this meant was that the DHS budget office needed a line item in the contract which gave them legislative approval to fund the service contract.  So, now, I am encouraging the Oregon Association of the Deaf and the general Deaf Community in Oregon to come together to pressure the Oregon Legislature to give DHS the authority to fund this contract. Once this happens, we will receive the contract to provide these services.

Sammi:  I have something to add to that. While my services (VOCA) are limited to those folks who have experienced crime, there is no minimum or maximum age to receive services. Any survivor of crime can access my program.

Chad: And to add to what Sammi said, often senior citizens or older adults can be victims of financial abuse, financial fraud, and other sorts of financial harm. The internet is full of scams. If a Deaf senior citizen experiences any of this sort of crime, they are still able to contact Sammi for resources under the VOCA program.

Sammi: And to tag on to that, even if a Deaf senior citizen isn’t sure if they’ve been a victim of a crime, they can still contact me and I’m happy to talk with them to help them navigate the situation.

Chad:  Is there anything else, Howrad?

Howrad: No, thanks.

Chad: I see another question in the Q & A from Philip. He asks, “Will Bridges consider setting up an office in Portland sometime in the future?”  That was part of my proposal to DHS – to set up regional offices in Portland, Salem, Bend and Medford and…I am missing one.

Sammi: I think it’s Eugene.

Chad: Yes, that’s right and Eugene. We still need to community to come out strong with pressure on the legislature to fund this. But just because we are stuck in terms of the DHS contract for now, doesn’t mean we have stopped seeking alternative funding for this. We will continue to look for funding sources. We have a multitude of needs within the community as identified based on the 2016 community-based needs assessment. Those needs are clear. While seeking additional funding resources, I have had a few conversations with folks about transitioning some of their programs to be a part of Bridges, and in doing so, potentially making their sites adjuncts of Bridges in other locations. This is a longer route to our goal, but that is fine. We’re here to make it happen.

Another question from Philip. He says, “Awesome! What do I need to do to push the legislature to make this happen?”

Chad: You can start by contacting the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee and ask that authorization for this program be included in DHS’s CURRENT fiscal bill which includes programs like WIC, food stamps, and employment, as well as their office expenses. There needs to be specific language in the bill that authorizes DHS to fund our program to help the future of Oregon’s Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing population. That’s the first step.

The second is to mobilize the Deaf community and OAD to rally for this cause. So, larger community work needs to be done.

Does anyone else have their hand raised or are there any more questions in the Q & A?

Julie: All is quiet.

Chad: That’s fine…for those of you who might have missed this update, the video will be uploaded to our Bridges YouTube channel. First we need to make sure that the audio voice interpretation is clear, and that the captioning appears on the video so it is accessible for everyone, and then we will upload it. I think I see one more question in the Q & A – the name says “Anonymous” so I don’t know the name of this person. The person says, “Thank you for your hard work!”

Philip also says, “This is more of a comment than a question but, Thank you ALL so much for your wonderful services and all of your hard work related to securing the future of this important agency!”

All panelists:  Thanks Philip!!

Chad: Ok, I guess this is the countdown to the end of the session. Are there any last comments or questions before we close?

Laine Gayle says, “Thank you so much!!”

CM Hall says, “Happy Birthday, Chad and thank you for all of your hard work on the grants!”

Chad: Thank you CM! XOXO

Ok, now the final countdown, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – Good Night!! Goodbye!!

All:  Goodbye!!

Sammi:  Take care!

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2023-04-11T22:07:21+00:00Tuesday, 11 April, 2023|News|
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