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CHS in the new millenium

The approach of the new millennium was an exciting time for Chicago Hearing Society. In 2000, Illinois Governor George Ryan and Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago declared August the first ever Sign Language Interpreter Awareness Month. The brainchild of CHS interpreter services assistant director Kim Bianco, this special month was established to increase the public’s awareness of the interpreting profession and to show appreciation for the contributions made by interpreters to improve access for deaf and hard of hearing people. 

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, CHS provided more than 25,000 hours of interpreter services and its the total operating budget exceeds $2 million for the first time ever.

Also in 2000, CHS offered domestic violence counseling services for the first time. A full-time counselor fluent in sign language works as an advocate with the victims helping them to navigate the police and court system and to receive related services.

The CHS website is expanded to include online registration for sign language classes, the Silberman Center for Assistive Technology and Deaf Line, a listing of events of special interest to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

CHS became a founding member of CHOICES for Parents, which hires a part-time coordinator in 2001. CHOICES for Parents is a coalition of parents and organizations that provides support and information to parents who have a child with an identified hearing loss. Recently enacted legislation mandated that by the end of 2002, all Illinois hospitals must screen the hearing of newborns.

In 2001 the CHS pre-school hearing and vision screening program closed when the Chicago Health Department expands its services. For 17 years, the CHS program served thousands of children annually in Head Start and day care programs under the direction of Patricia Martin.

In the fall of 2001, CHS joined forces with Hearing Loss Link, a nonprofit organization that serves late-deafened adults. Following the merger, CHS hires a full-time coordinator to provide counseling, advocacy, referrals and education to individuals who have lost their hearing.

Video Relay Interpreting Services

In May, 2003, CHS contracted with CSD to begin providing video relay interpreting services.

At the end of 2004, CHS received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. The grant enabled CHS to develop and implement training for workers in domestic violence shelters, hospital emergency rooms and other services about how to meet the special needs of deaf victims of domestic violence. A videotape was produced to educate workers across the country.

Today, Chicago Hearing Society offers its largest array of services and supports yet from a beautiful office in Chicago's Lincoln Park district, just steps from public transportation.

As CHS began its next 90 years we reaffirmed the commitment to our mission: To empower deaf, hard of hearing and hearing people to communicate with each other.

We can't do it alone. Click here to donate.



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