What We Do

Our Mission:

Deaf-REACH seeks to maximize the quality of life of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and families through a wide spectrum of services.

Our Vision:

We envision a world in which Deaf and Hard of Hearing people are equal participants in society.


Through the new strategic planning process Deaf-REACH has broadened the mission and vision of the agency.  

Deaf-REACH – Our History

Deaf-REACH is a non-profit agency committed to maximize the self-sufficiency of deaf and hard of hearing people who need special services. By providing referral, education, employment, advocacy, counseling and housing, Deaf-REACH offers specialized programs and access to additional services within The Washington, D.C. area. While the agency welcomes all deaf and hard –of-hearing people, various programs focus on the specific needs of those who are also mentally ill, developmentally disabled or socially and economically disadvantaged. Included are group homes and apartments, information and referral to community services, personal counseling, housing placement assistance, vocational training and job placement, addictions counseling, HIV prevention education, life skills training and socialization activities.

Although incorporated in 1972, the idea for Deaf-REACH actually sprang from an ecumenical retreat in 1967 when a speaker failed to appear. This one event, improbable as it may seem, began a chain reaction that culminated in the establishment of the National Health Care Foundation for the Deaf, now known as Deaf-REACH. At the retreat, the substitution for the absent speaker’s presentation was a round-table discussion of how deaf churches could maximize the effectiveness of their community outreach. When someone mentioned that the approximately 30 deaf patients at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., a facility for mentally ill persons, were isolated from one another because they were housed randomly throughout the complex, a monthly social was proposed.

Fortunately, the head of the hospital supported this idea, recognized the benefits of permanently moving all participating deaf patients into one building, and created the hospital’s Mental Health Program for the Deaf. The success of this program was obvious and through it the need grew for a group home outside of the hospital’s campus where deaf patients who have progressed and been released could live while adjusting to life in the greater community. Otis house, Deaf-REACH’s first group home- also the first such home in the nation for deaf, mentally ill persons- was thereby opened to support the patient’s transition

Since then, Deaf-REACH has grown steadily forcing the agency to seek larger quarters. In January 1991, the main office was established in the heart of Northeast Washington’s Brookland community – a historic neighborhood that warmly welcomed them. Now Deaf-REACH, with its offices, group homes, and programs within walking distance of one another, continues to grow toward the future.

Our Philosophy:

All Deaf-REACH programs embrace the nationally acclaimed psychosocial rehabilitation approach to mental health. Utilizing this approach, members are actively involved with professionals in their own treatment, helping establish the format and level of service delivery that they receive. An important aspect involves learning necessary life skills, thus minimizing the need for assistance from a service professional. This self-empowerment is part of what distinguishes the approach at Deaf-REACH and provides a solid foundation for member’s success.




As a certified sub-provider of services under DC Department of Mental Health, Deaf-REACH has Community Support Providers who work with members with mental illness to ensure that their needs for living in the community are met. In addition to access to a psychiatrist, these mental health services are offered for diagnosis, assessment, counseling and community support. Members are actively involved in every step of their individual plan for success.  This program is built on the premise that consumer choice is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Consumers work as part of a team with staff members to develop an Individual Support Service Plan (ISSP). The plan will follow the goals and objectives developed in the Individual Recovery Plan (IRP) and will include areas of support, education, and interpersonal and coping skills.

Our bottom line for them is” Paving the way towards: independence, improvement in quality of life, empowerment, increased self esteem and HOPE.


Supported Employment is a modern rehabilitation program that matches production goals of employers with the skills and interests of deaf individuals who have additional disabilities.

Deaf-REACH Supported Employment meets the needs of both parties: the employer acquires workers who are loyal and highly motivated, and individuals secure jobs that help them to develop independence and self-esteem.

Supported Employment services are managed by our Job Developers who work with employer and the individual every step of the way: assessing employee skills, finding compatible jobs, screening potential candidates, coaching and training the employee on-site during the transition period, and consulting with the employer on the progress and performance of workers.

Deaf-REACH Supported Employment made possible through a grant from the DC Department of Mental Health. Under this program, Employment Specialists assist deaf people with mental illness to become and remain successfully and employed in integrated work settings. This new approach to supported employment is founded on the belief that anyone can work if they are given the appropriate support.

We are also became part of the Employment Network under the Ticket to Work Program. Our supported employment team works with individuals who have vouchers from the Social Security Administration to find and retain jobs in competitive work environments, The goal of this program is to give people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a result of disability the chance to achieve long-term employment by providing them with choices and opportunities to go to work.


The Deaf Horizons Day Program is one of the programs at Deaf-REACH.  It uses a psychosocial approach in working with individuals, who are mentally challenged, economically disadvantaged, and/or educationally disadvantaged, on achieving their goals through classes, activities, and 1-on-1 work with staff.  The goals fall into the categories of reading, writing, math, self-advocacy, and transitional employment; these goals are reviewed and modified every six months.  The program operates from 8:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. Mondays to Fridays and is located a couple blocks from the agency’s Central Service Center.


The Independent Living Skills (ILS) Day Program works with Deaf and Developmentally Disabled individuals to enhance and maximize their self-sufficiency and quality of life through employing our pre-vocational and day-habilitation services.

The pre-vocational activities are geared towards learning and performing tasks to develop their skill set, some examples are: collating colored index cards, labeling envelopes, assembling brochures, packaging utensils, and creating safe sex kits for the HIV Program at Deaf-REACH.  The day-habilitation activities include arts & crafts, movies, and community outings to a variety of locations such as: museums in DC, parks in the Greater Washington area, and educational tours of facilities such as the police station, the library, etc. We strive to meet the individual needs of every client and encourage their success.


The Residential Program is one of the programs at Deaf-REACH.  It provides residential settings that fall in a range of levels of supervision – from group homes that have 24/7 supervision to apartments where residents receive minimal support from staff.  The program has three group homes – two with 24/7 supervision and one with less supervision (semi-independent).  In addition to working on housing goals, the individuals engage into a variety of activities such as getting together with others for a cookout, calling/visiting relatives and friends, celebrating each other’s birthday, watching movies, and relaxing


United Way: #8164

CFC:# 57478