The HCIA Deaf Access Committee exists to help Deaf people who want to get sober or stay sober be able to do that.
The HCIA Deaf Access Committee exists to help Deaf people who want to get sober or stay sober be able to do that. We believe that it is AA’s responsibility to help any alcoholic who suffers from our disease have access to the message. A Deaf person cannot have access to the message without interpreters, and most cannot afford an interpreter on a regular basis. DAC exists to provide both spiritual and financial support, for Deaf people to participate in AA, get a sponsor, and be part of our fellowship on a regular and on-going basis. Because an individual, especially a newly sober individual, cannot carry the financial burden of interpreters, and because a single group also cannot, we believe that the responsibility should be shared by all AA groups, to pool contributions ear-marked for this purpose, as has been done successfully in other parts of the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions
Also, Volunteer interpreters, while appreciated in a pinch, because they are not being paid, have the option not to show up.This is very disappointing for a Deaf person looking forward to the only meeting they may get, and not be able to comprehend anything being share in an meeting or be able to interact with others, contributing to the isolation they already feel due to their alcoholism.
seemed more willing to offer help to hearing newcomers than Deaf. And when the newcomer does show up instead of being welcomed back (like a hearing newcomer or someone that relapsed) some Deaf newcomers are greeted with resentment. “We paid an interpreter and you didn’t show up”.
And, sadly, sometimes the actions of a few are carried over to any Deaf newcomer that attends. DAC is trying hard to bridge the gap between hearing and Deaf AA members, so that there can Deaf people can have access to the message AND have relationships within the fellowship. There’s more to AA than just the meetings.
Presently the only AA literature available in ASL from the General Service Office is the first 164 pages of the Big Book (VS-1) and the Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions (VS-3). GSO is currently working on an even more accurate translation of the 4th Edition.For many AAs the key to their sobriety is having the opportunity to hear other AA members share their experience, strength, and hope in sobriety and service. Alcoholics who are Deaf have no access to AA stories and find very limited access to AA meetings, and service events, thus makes it difficult for them to learn how others members of AA stay sober and how do service work.
After a year and a half of showing growing results with our efforts to help AA, we joined Intergroup as a standing committee. You can read more about or history and purpose on our webpage.
“Our experience is that many group consciences of both open and closed meetings have agreed to allow professional non-A.A. ASL interpreters to translate for an A.A. member in their meetings. In order to help both newcomers and longtime A.A. members, some groups announce at the beginning of the meeting that the professional translator is bound by a code of ethics and that all interpreted communications are confidential. Some A.A. members have pointed out that an interpreter, like a wheelchair, is just a method or apparatus to help an A.A. member with special needs.”
GSO has more to share on this:
“GSO experience indicates that limiting an A.A. meeting to a narrow category of A.A. members may not allow the full, rich message of A.A. to be available. An example is a group that meets in a school where only young people with limited sobriety attend. They are not able to take advantage of longer time sobriety, experience, strength and hope. Our experience is that Deaf members report that attending regular ASL interpreted meetings of A.A. helps them with their spiritual condition and often helps them avoid the temptation to feel isolated and relapse.There have been attempts in the past to start up AA meetings conducted in ASL, but often these groups do not get input or feedback from old timers as to how to use the Traditions to keep it an AA meeting. The majority of the participants are new to sobriety and have had very limited exposure to AA meetings, service, and the AA traditions. These groups often do not have the experience, strength, and hope offered from AA meetings that have participants with long-term sobriety and
experience in service.”
Aside from this, we do not believe it is the state’s job to help Deaf alcoholics, but our duty. Our responsibility statement “Anytime,Anywhere, when anyone reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA be there!! And for that: I am responsible! “was written for the 1965 A.A. International Convention in Toronto. by identifies former AA trustee, Al S. He wrote an article in our International Newsletter Box 459 this: We must remember that AA will continue strong only so long as each of us freely and happily gives it away to another person, only as each of us takes our fair share of responsibility for sponsorship of those who still suffer, for the growth and integrity of our Group, for our Intergroup activities, and for AA as a whole. It is in taking responsibility that real freedom and the enduring satisfactions of life are found. AA has given us the power to choose – to drink or not to drink – and in doing so has given us the freedom to be responsible for ourselves. As we become responsible for ourselves, we are free to be responsible for our share in AA, and unless we happily accept this responsibility we lose AA.
So we are a truly a fellowship of equals, how do we level the playing field for the Deaf Alcoholic? We believe that the DAC provides the answer to this, as well as other committees around the United States that now has a strong Deaf sober community that have merged with the hearing community in AA.
The bi-lingual community here in Texas went through a similar history, 10 years ago, and are now strong and thriving in their Spanish Districts, because the hand of AA was there, and paid for the translator equipment we continue to use at our Area meetings. But it started with one alcoholic talking to another. One day, perhaps we will have a Deaf District here in Austin.That will be up to us all, and whether we can live up to the spiritual principles set by our predecessors.
person has a clear view of the interpreter. The interpreter also needs to be able to hear well to translate. Sitting in the corner of the back of the room doesn’t work well.
We also need people available to sponsor Deaf AA members. Signing is not required for any of this, just willingness. There is ample technology available to help people get past language barriers, such as:
TTY (also known as a TDD – Telecommunication Device for the Deaf):
Equipped with a keyboard and small visual display, this device enables users to type their messages and send them over the phone lines.
Relay Service: If the person on one end of a phone call uses a TTY and the person on the other end uses a regular (speaking) telephone, the services of a relay operator are needed. All telephone companies now provide this service free of charge.
Internet & Video Relay is a free service for Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to place and receive text-based relay calls using a computer or mobile device. It enables Deaf or hard of hearing persons who sign to communicate with hearing
persons through video conference equipment like web cameras or video phones features.
Different people use different devices, so it is an individual preference as to which way is most comfortable for the Deaf newcomer.. Face to face interaction is a must, though, to feel part of the fellowship. In that case, use of a computer or handwritten notes will sometimes suffice.There are plenty of opportunities for individuals who would like to pick up basic sign language if they wish, through the local universities or on-line. Again, willingness, is the key!!