Your generosity and investment moved us toward a more inclusive world with fewer barriers!

Adult Education & Outreach

AEO served 2,977 unduplicated clients in 2018-19. There were 187 students in ASL I, II, and III classes as well as a parent-child ASL class and 162 students in various school groups. AEO partnered with Nashville Community Education for the first time, providing ASL classes to 27 more students.  AEO presented 45 workshops on Deaf culture and ASL in Middle Tennessee businesses, universities, congregations, and agencies and hosted one weekend SSP (support service person) for those working with the deaf-blind.

One thousand and fifty-six employees of the Metro Nashville Police Department took mandatory in-service about serving the Deaf and hard of hearing. The in-service consisted of three, twenty-minute videos--ADA and Deaf Driver Safety, Deaf Language and Culture, and Legal Interpreting. 

In community building, AEO hosted twelve, monthly Game Days and with Interpreting Services, four outings to Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre.  

LivingWell served 24 fitness clients. 


WellFEST welcomed 317 attendees who learned more about personal, physical, and mental health and well being with workshops and booths on language, financial investments, blood pressure checks, and more.


Advocacy is our systems-change program. While we have always advocated on behalf of individuals, in 2017-18, we turned our attention to creating change for our entire community by removing systemic barriers. Our efforts begin with open, respectful conversations in Town Hall meetings. Our Town Hall on Law Enforcement welcomed over eighty participants, equally divided between the Deaf and hard of hearing communities and law enforcement throughout Middle Tennessee. That conversation led to the idea for Deaf Driver Safety legislation, a voluntary database attached to license plates that would alert officers if a driver were Deaf or hard of hearing. Sponsored by Rep. William Lamberth and Sen. Ferrell Haile, Deaf Driver Safety became law on July 1, 2018.


In 2018-19, we introduced open caption movie showings to Middle Tennessee through a collaboration with AMC theaters. One, new release movie was available each week in an open caption format, meaning captions on the screen, making the universal experience of movie watching truly inclusive of all.

In January 2019, we introduced a bill that became the #WordsMatter law when signed by Governor Lee on May 8, 2019. This important legislation changed the terms "hearing impaired" and "hearing impairment" to "deaf or hard of hearing" and "hearing loss" throughout Tennessee Annotated Code. Language empowers or disempowers, and our community has suffered oppression and discrimation based on ignorance and misunderstanding, too often perpetuated through labels that imply a brokenness or "less than" status. This language change, sponsored by Rep. Jason Powell and Sen. Steve Dickerson, empowers our community and changes perception that come to shape our reality. 


Empowerment is our case management program. Empowerment served 136 individual clients, primarily in the areas of jobs, housing, individual access, and education. One hundred and thirty-one clients met self-identified goals.  Other priorities were food security, training opportunities, educational advocacy, and advocacy for access to health care, mental health care, and other services.  Empowerment also hosted the first College Boot Camp, coordinated five workshops, and welcomed two interns from area universities.

Interpreting Services

Interpreting Services served 746 individuals, not including students and audiences.  Almost 26,000 hours of interpreting services were provided by two staff interpreters and more than thirty contract interpreters, including 706 hours by Deaf interpreters.  Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDIs) are highly-qualified interpreters who team with hearing interpreters to meet the specific needs of clients where there is an additional language barrier.  


Interpreting Services also provided 3,761 Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) minutes.  VRI allows us to provide services quickly and cost-effectively to remote areas but never replaces the value and quality of having an interpreter in person. 

Interpreting Services continues to work with courts and law enforcement to ensure best practices and legal compliance when working with the Deaf and hard of hearing community and improving access to mental health services for Deaf and hard of hearing consumers. Interpreting offered high-quality professional development for interpreters and hosted its annual Interpreter Appreciation Dinner. Interpreting also led a special Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Day at the Nashville International Airport.

Youth Education & Services

Youth Education & Services, dubbed the 'The Signing ACEs,' (Advocacy, Community, Empowerment) had a great year.


Having piloted Baby ACE & Me, Jr. ACE & Me, and Deaf Mentor, YES rolled out the new Little ACES program in FY19.  Little ACEs serves children and their families from birth to start of school, offering weekly classes for parent and child together and a monthly visit from a Deaf Mentor.  The youth department welcomed a certified Deaf educator to the staff, and she partnered with qualified Deaf adults to develop an outstanding curriculum and evaluations. The program grew enrollment by over 100%!


These early intervention programs address the severe language deprivation Deaf children born to hearing parents. Almost 95% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents, 75% of whom never learn to sign. All children in our early intervention program demonstrated measurable growth in both expressive and receptive language, and parents reported a higher sense of competency and communication. 

Twenty-three Deaf and hard of hearing (and two hearing siblings) students from Middle Tennessee were enrolled in The Signing ACES, our after-school program that met three days a week, serving students from 1st to 12th grades. The program focuses on language acquisition in both American Sign Language and English. 94% increased his/her reading level. 82% mastered 80, multiple-meaning words. 82% mastered 95 English, grade-appropriate vocabulary words. 82% demonstrated improvement in writing, and 82% demonstrated improved social-emotional outcomes.  

Camp Rise & Sign is a sleep-away camp for Deaf and hard of hearing students.  We had 42 campers for the big weekend in May. Camp Sign Me Up is a weekday camp for hearing students who want to learn American Sign Language. We expanded to six weeks and added beginning, intermediate, and advanced tracks for each week. We also had a special, intensive teen week. We had 80 unduplicated campers. Many campers chose to return for multiple weeks, and we had nine junior counselors, teens who volunteered with us. 

Club Sign Me Up, an after-school club to learn ASL and Deaf culture, worked at three schools in MNPS with forty-three students in elementary or high school.  

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