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Rotarians learn of resources for hearing-impaired

POSTED: May 1, 2009 1:04 p.m.
Photo by Lauren Hunsberger/

Katherine Doster receives a certificate of appreciation at Tuesday's Rotary Club meeting from member Dr. Timothy Byler.

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Tuesday, Katherine Doster, support service specialist with the Georgia Council for the Hearing Impaired, informed Rotarians through an interpreter about current issues, projects and concerns for surrounding area residents who are hearing-impaired or deaf.
She said GACHI’s main purpose is to educate people about Americans with Disabilities Act laws, services available to hard of hearing Georgia citizens, local support connections, and many other opportunities for assistance and social interaction. Doster said there are six GACHI offices across the state, including the one she’s stationed at in Hinesville.
“We’re responsible for 28 counties,” Doster said of the Hinesville branch’s expansive service area.
Doster’s interpreter, Nancy Davis, information and referral specialist with GACHI, said across the 28 counties, the office serves more than 5,000 hearing-impaired or deaf residents.
However, Davis said this number isn’t the entire deaf population in the area because, unfortunately, there are many people who she refers to as “hidden deaf.” She said people often don’t seek help because they’re either ashamed to report it or the problem is overlooked, specially with children who are placed in regular schools.
“One of our main goals is community outreach. We have monthly workshops to help educate people,” Doster said.
She explained that community outreach includes helping students with their testing skills or providing new communication technology to people who have trouble using telephones, as well as supporting Camp Juliena, a summer camp for teens and youth to provide healthy social opportunities
As Doster informed residents about all the positive components of GACHI, she also said funding for these programs has been deteriorating and some offices and programs, including hers, are at risk of closure.
“Most of the time, we’re funded through the state, donations and VR applications,” Doster said.
Doster, said she isn’t going to give up without a fight as she personally recognizes the importance of the program, which was developed in 1989, and all its efforts to educate and help people.
For more information about GACHI, go to www.gachi.org.
 

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