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

Adult Education & Outreach

AEO served 832 unduplicated clients. There were 229 students in ASL I, II, and III classes that were onsite, online, or community based. AEO presented 34 virtual and in-person workshops on Deaf culture and ASL in Middle Tennessee businesses, universities, congregations, and agencies.

After 1,056 employees of the Metro Nashville Police Department took mandatory in-service about serving the Deaf and hard of hearing last year, almost 200 more completed the training this year. The in-service consisted of three, twenty-minute videos--ADA and Deaf Driver Safety, Deaf Language and Culture, and Legal Interpreting. 

AEO hosted Drive-In BINGO, Trunk or Treat, Tax Days, Flu Shots, and Signing Santa--all socially distanced, masked, or virtual. 

AEO was excited to launch new, statewide, and fully-accessible Driver's Education and GED classes for the D/deaf and hard of hearing. 


With Development and Empowerment, AEO managed a large CARES grant to provide rent, utilities, and housing and food stability to our community. Additionally, we provided laptops and training to support community members with access, education, jobs, and relationship. 

We launched a new Deaf History page on the website and celebrated Black Deaf History Month and Deaf History Month with daily posts celebrating individuals and events. 



From tornadoes to the pandemic to Christmas morning bombings, we stepped up to ensure equal access for our D/deaf, Deaf-Blind, and hard of hearing communities. Working with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, multiple county health departments, the Tennessee Department of Health, Mayor Cooper, Mayor Harris, and Mayor Strickland, we provided qualified ASL interpreters to ensure our community had equal access to critical and life-saving information.

Around the clock, we monitored news stations and worked with reporters and news directors to ensure interpreters stayed in frame at all times. We advocated for closed captioning for streaming press briefings and posted transcripts for our Deaf-Blind community.

We educated the public about necessity of masks that were barriers to our communication. We solicited volunteers and sponsors to make and provide thousands of clear masks that protected us while allowing full access. Our interpreters continued to walk into hospitals and clinics, even when the diagnosis was COVID-19, because all people deserve equal access and effective communication.

We produced timely, factual signed/voiced/captioned videos with critical information about COVID-19 and the vaccines and hosted a very special COVID-19 Conversation with Dr. Kiepp Talbot, a member of the CDC's Vaccine Advisory Committee. We created and distributed a COVID-19 Communication Card. We successfully advocated for the inclusion of ASL interpreters in the first round of vaccines made available. 

We hosted a statewide Community Meeting on Access in Tennessee Hospitals and are working with the Department of Justice, Middle District of Tennessee, to develop standardized equal access accommodations policies for our D/deaf, Deaf-Blind, and hard of hearing communities. 

We advocated for the presence of ASL interpreters for all presidential debates, visible on television. 

We established a new pharmacy program through Genoa to ensure our clients have safe, consistent access, help, and advocacy.


We launched our first year of Bridge to Leadership, a series of classes designed to develop leadership skills in our community. .

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BridgesWEST served 358 unduplicated clients in Community Services and hosted 13 workshops as well as Drive-In BINGO,  Tax Days, Trunk or Treat, and Deaf Days Out in the park. BridgesWEST also helped organize a very special March for Equality & Justice, celebrating and advocating for our Black Deaf community.


We continued to focus on community outreach and hosted a week of virtual, IdeaExchange meetings and then two, virtual Community Meetings to listen to our beloved community. We established a new relationship with Memphis City Police to provide Deaf Awareness Trainings. We provided Educational Boxes to support our D/deaf and hard of hearing Signing ACEs during a stressful academic  year, and we provided laptops, trainings, and other resources to adult clients to support access, education, jobs, and relationship during the isolation of the pandemic. We named our first-ever Director, Brenda Cash, and welcomed a new Empowerment Coordinator. 

The Signing ACEs, our youth program in Memphis in collaboration with the Mayor's Office of Youth Services, met virtually, and our graduates did their first, paid internships in Summer 2021!  

We provided over three thousand hours of interpreting services, tripling our first year open and continuing to grow, and continued to provide professional development opportunities for our interpreters. 



Empowerment is our case management program. Empowerment served 203 individual clients, primarily in the areas of jobs, housing, individual access, and education. Other priorities were food security, training opportunities, educational advocacy, and advocacy for access to health care, mental health care, and other services.  

Empowerment collaborated with the Financial Empowerment Center to provide weekly financial counseling, providing interpreters and a social worker to work with the counselor. If there were identified barriers to program participation, we were able to provide some direct financial assistance to remove those barriers. 

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Interpreting Services

Interpreting Services served approximately 1,000 individuals, not including students and audiences.  Over 22,000 hours of interpreting services were provided by two staff interpreters and more than thirty contract interpreters, including 1,054 hours by Deaf interpreters.  Deaf Interpreters 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 6,631 Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) minutes and 250 minutes of CART.  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. CART (Communication Access Real Time) provides live captions in English and creates equal access for our hard of hearing community.

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 a robust program of high-quality professional development for interpreters with topics ranging from legal interpreting, language deprivation, and mental health interpreting to best practices in team interpreting, medical interpreting, and narcotics terms. 

Interpreting Services provided a robust program of virtual professional development, using qualified interpreters with specific areas of expertise to offer professional development on topics such as legal, medical, performance, mental health, and more.

Interpreting Services continues to lead the push for improved access to and quality of mental health services for the D/deaf and hard of hearing, leading a statewide Mental Health Task Force.

Youth Education & Services

Our youth programs adapted and redefined their focus to meet the needs of our children and youth from birth through high school. Our after-school program moved to virtual space. We offered trainings on how to use Zoom and Teams to support access during virtual school. We provided after-school tutoring and homework assistance. We reached out to schools to provide clear face masks and enclosed face shields to create full access for D/deaf and hard of hearing students, and we educated parents on how to include clear masks for access in IEPs. We developed, filmed, and posted a comprehensive series of academic vocabulary. 

On the weekends, we hosted virtual youth game days to keep students connected. We launched new clubs like our Cooking club that was immensely popular. Each week, we emailed out a new grocery list, and then we met virtually to cook together. 

With Interpreting Services, we hosted the first Deaf Education Institute online, and it was amazing, providing wonderful training and support to educational interpreters, Deaf educators, and parents all across the country. With CARES funding, we developed huge educational boxes filled with accessible movies, books, dictionaries, games, and more and distributed them to students in Middle and West Tennessee. We were also able to provide laptops as needed. In January, our students filmed ASL versions of Martin Luther King, Jr. quotations to honor his life and work. 


Little ACEs met with families virtually, and while we know in-person is best for our infants and toddlers, parents benefited from a greater ability to chat and to ask questions. We hosted Signing Santa where children could meet virtually with a Deaf Santa and his interpreter, Rudolph. We filmed and distributed Santa signing "'The Night Before Christmas."

We offered a special parent ASL class online and a family ASL class on Saturdays. Club Sign Me Up met virtually, and Camp Sign Me Up, all virtual in Summer 2020, offered both virtual and in-person options for Summer 2021.