For the 33rd year, the Lighthouse hosted an accessible, week-long retreat designed expressly for Deaf-Blind adults. Over sixty Deaf-Blind individuals attended the retreat, supported by over 110 sign language interpreting volunteers. Held in Seabeck, WA on the shores of Hood Canal, the retreat provides Deaf-Blind adults with an opportunity to learn new skills towards independence, experience new activities, network with peers and service providers, and establish friendships that will provide peer support throughout the year. Participants came from near and far to attend the retreat in August, with more than half of attendees traveling from across the country and globe.
While ordinary daily life presents barriers for Deaf-Blind individuals, the retreat offers a welcoming community of peers and friends who truly understand the experience of living with a dual disability. This year’s retreat attendees enjoyed recreational activities including early morning swims, dance and culture of Hawaii, support groups, tactile and fragrant arts and crafts workshops, tandem bicycling, tours of local area interest and education, a popular health spa, a seven seat bike!, community dances and much, much more. Attendees joined workshops that addressed federal telecommunication developments for Deaf-Blind people, the latest research on Usher’s syndrome (a common cause of deaf-blindness), the latest innovations in tactile communication, and new assistive technologies that are providing breakthroughs in communication and information access for Deaf-Blind people. Participants have opportunities to expand their awareness and experience on so many levels; we even had one participant this year who was unfamiliar with the ADA, and the extent that it could protect her in her place of employment. She now has information she can use to improve her work environment and her value to her employer.
The retreat is an essential part of the Lighthouse’s mission to serve the needs of people with visual disabilities who are also Deaf or hard of hearing. Our annual retreat is part of our nationally recognized Deaf-Blind program that has provided employment, services, and support to Deaf-Blind individuals for the past 35 years. There is no other organization in the Pacific Northwest, providing these comprehensive services to Deaf-Blind persons.
We rely on members of the community to help fund critical costs that make our Deaf-Blind Retreat accessible to all participants. Thank you to our donors for your support, covering scholarship funds, transportation costs, costs to support our volunteers, and helping to ensure that all of our Deaf-Blind participants were able to be a part of this year’s retreat. We could not do it without you!