Over the past year, HSDC’s staff and Board of Directors have worked hard every day to ensure that we continue to foster inclusive, accessible communities through communication, advocacy, and education. State and local government budgets are under strain, and there is considerable uncertainty regarding federally-funded health programs, making the services HSDC provides even more vital to the people and communities we serve. Our work provides individuals with the communication tools they need to access basic needs that people without communication differences take for granted, such as housing, medical care, therapies, and education.
In late 2016, HDSC’s Leadership Team and Board of Directors completed a strategic plan to optimize how we deliver services to our clients. Achieving the five overarching strategic goals we established will enable us to provide the clients we serve in Western Washington with better and more efficiently delivered services, making our counties, cities, and communities more inclusive. Below are a few of our accomplishments during Fiscal Year 2017 in pursuit of those goals:
- Integrate our service array, and be leaders in each service area.
Ned Behnke Speech-Language Preschool explored establishing an outreach model that will allow us to serve more children with speech differences in King County. We identified funding for a pilot outreach program, now in progress, that will bring the combined expertise of our Speech and Education departments into preschools throughout the region, ensuring that children with speech disorders are properly served.
- Ensure those we serve feel they are reflected in our organization, particularly the Deaf, with whom we have the most work to do.
Since the strategic plan was completed, we have added four new Board members who are deaf or hard of hearing, bringing the total to seven. Also, our new Director of Education is Deaf, enabling us to better connect our educational services with the Deaf and hard of hearing communities. During Fiscal Year 2017, approximately 25% of HSDC staff members were Deaf or hard of hearing.
- Increase the awareness, identity, and visibility of our brand.
In May 2017, HSDC launched a redesigned website with the help of a team of volunteers from Microsoft. The new site is more accessible for people with disabilities and will allow us to strengthen HSDC’s brand in the community.
- Strengthen our ability to invest in staff and technology.
The Microsoft team also helped us create a client satisfaction survey that will allow us to better understand the needs of our clients, and how we can better serve them through improved use of technology.
- Strengthen our financial model to increase our ability to invest in growth.
In March 2017, HSDC’s SignOn Interpreting Services program merged with ASL Interpreter Network (ASLIN), a for-profit agency. The combined entity, now known as HSDC Interpreting Services, is the largest provider of sign language interpreting in the Puget Sound area. In addition to enabling us to provide increased and more effective interpreting throughout the Puget Sound area, HSDC Interpreting Services is our largest program and a source of financial support to the rest of HSDC, particularly for those programs delivering free or subsidized services.
2017 also marked the 80th anniversary of HSDC’s incorporation. As we look back at eight decades of service, we feel privileged to be a part of an institution that continues to serve community members who are deaf, hard of hearing, and have speech differences with passion, effectiveness, and respect. We seek to honor the efforts of everyone who came before us by working to ensure that HSDC remains a pillar of the Puget Sound community.
2017 marked HSDC’s 80th anniversary. Click the thumbnails below to see the history of the agency and the disability movement over the past eight decades.
Jane Williams, who was affectionately known as Janie, is one of the most admired figures in the history of Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center. She first worked with HSDC in the 1990s to help lead a successful capital campaign, bringing with her thirty years of experience in the nonprofit and fundraising worlds. HSDC board member Laurie Rosen-Ritt, who co-chaired the campaign, remembers that “Janie was one of the busiest people in the world, yet she always answered when anyone in the community came calling. She made things better wherever she went, and HSDC was lucky to be one of those places.”
Janie eventually joined HSDC’s Board of Directors herself, believing that when a volunteer matches their passion with the mission of an organization, “magic things can happen”. As an individual who was hard of hearing, as well as a longtime client, Janie knew the importance of the agency’s work in the community. Her enthusiasm was infectious. HSDC staff who worked with Janie throughout the years remember her as charming, friendly, and vibrant.
A lifelong philanthropist, Janie touched many lives before her passing in 2017, including her surviving husband, two children, and four grandchildren. We are grateful to have been a recipient of her generosity, and her influence on HSDC will be felt for many years to come. Says Executive Director Lindsay Klarman: “Janie was a champion who helped make sure all children had equal access to education, seniors got equal access to sound, and the community as a whole worked together for the greater good. I will miss her smile and warmth—her legacy lives on in the individuals and families we are able to help every day.”