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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Announcing -- neodba

What is NEODBA? If you are one of my local contacts, I'm sure
you've already heard of it about 100 times by now. For the rest
of the world, NEODBA is what's been keeping me so busy lately.
If you are wondering why I haven't responded to your recent
email, or why I'm not posting too many blogs lately, here's your

NEODBA is my new organization -- Northeast Ohio Deaf-Blind
Association. I am the co-founder and leader. There are three
other people helping with the group, but it is still so much

NEODBA is a social organization for individuals who are
deaf-blind. Our mission is to enhance the lives of people who
are deaf-blind by offering access to social activities and events
in a safe and supported environment. In doing so, people who are
deaf-blind become active members in the community in which they
live. At the same time, we bring awareness of the needs and
capabilities of our members to the general public.

It's not easy creating a group like this for people who are
deaf-blind. To succeed in our mission, we need volunteers to
help work with deaf-blind members. These volunteers are called
"Support Service Providers" (SSP's). They are hard working and
dedicated individuals who are willing to be the "eyes and ears"
for people who are deaf-blind.

It's like the question of the chicken and the egg -- which comes
first? We want to create a social opportunities for Deaf-blind
individuals. First, we need to find and train SSP's. To
prepare for that training, we need a fund raiser so we can buy
materials and things like that. Although we haven't had our
first social yet, we have been hard at work getting this
organization off the ground.

In October of 2010, my co-founder and I presented NEODBA's first
SSP Training Workshop. We had about 25 people there for the day
long training session.

Our next plan was for a fund raiser. This got stalled because of
my health issues. However, we finally held a wonderful
fundraiser on October 6th, 2011. "Deaf-Blind Spirit Night" took
place at our local Chick-Fil-A restaurant. The deal is that
the organization must bring in enough people to break the
average sales for that day and time. If they succeed, they get
10% of the over all dine-in sales for that night. They also get
to keep any cash from the spinning wheel game.

NEODBA's "Deaf-Blind Spirit Night" was a smashing success. I am
still overwhelmed by all the people who showed up that night and
the support they offered. We had nearly 30 volunteers
offering their help. We had people outside holding signs to try
to bring in more customers. We had door greeters and
interpreters at all registers. There was the spinning wheel and
appearance by the famous Chick-Fil-A cow. We had a braille table
with braille/print picture books. Kids could make their own
book marks with their name in braille. There was also an ASL
table where children could learn some sign language. We had
glitter glue "I Love You" sign tatoos and face painting. We also
had an info booth, to provide more details about NEODBA and
upcoming events. There I sat, like a queen on her throne, with
people waiting in line to talk to me and ask questions.

Customers kept pouring in. There were many deaf people there.
They sat around chatting in ASL, while eating some good food.
The restaurant was packed. There was no parking space left.
People would stop by just to offer a donation. They were also
giving donations via the drive-thru window.

In total, we made about $265 that night. It wasn't the money
that thrilled me, however. It was the people and the support.
It was the chance to promote deaf-blind awareness. I know that
everyone who came to the fundraiser, left with something special
in their heart.

NEODBA's next move was to offer another SSP Training Workshop.
This took place on November 12th, 2011. This year we had about
35 students show up, along with 8 volunteer interpreters and one
general volunteer. My co-founder, SSP Coordinator, IT specialist
and I took turns presenting different parts of the workshop.
Three out of the four of us are deaf-blind. Who better to teach
an SSP training workshop than people who are deaf-blind?

I believe the workshop was well received. Students gave me much
positive feedback at the end of the day. Once again, they all
lined up to talk with me one-on-one. I love that.

What is next for NEODBA?

During the first week of December, we hope to have a mini-social
at Greenleaf Community Services for the Deaf. Our SSP
Coordinator will teach us how to make gingerbread houses. I'm
still trying to get the date and time set up. I've been playing
phone tag with the person I need to talk to at Greenleaf.

This winter, we will have our first major social -- snow tubing
at Brandywine Ski Resort. That's when the real fun begins!

If you live in the Northeast Ohio region and would like to become
involved with NEODBA, please contact me at Please help us reach out and locate any
deaf-blind individuals living in this area. Above all else,
NEODBA is for them.

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