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Life for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in Alaska

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Updated September 16, 2011

What is life like for deaf and hard of hearing people in Alaska? If a person in Alaska loses hearing, where can he turn for help? If a deaf child in Alaska needs a cochlear implant, where can the child go to get implanted and get follow-up services? These and other questions about the Alaska deaf and hard of hearing community are answered below.

Cochlear Implants in Alaska

At this time, there apparently is no place in Alaska to go to receive a cochlear implant. Instead, Alaskans go to the mainland (usually Seattle, Washington] to receive cochlear implants, and then return to Alaska for mapping and therapy through the Alaska Cochlear Implant Network and other places. Places providing cochlear implant services in Alaska include the Alaska Native Medical Center, Northern Hearing Services, the Virginia Mason Medical Center's Listen for Life Center, and the Alaska Speech and Hearing Clinic.

Education

Alaska has a state school for the deaf and hard of hearing in Anchorage, the Alaska State School for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing. Information about this school can be found on the Anchorage School District website, but the school itself does not have a website. Education is provided in both self-contained classrooms and mainstream classrooms in cooperation with local elementary, middle, and high schools.

Entertainment and Social Calendars

The website DeafAlaska.com lists social activities such as an ASL Club and Junior National Association of the Deaf pizza socials. A few Regal movie theaters in Anchorage and Fairbanks show open captioned (similar to foreign film subtitles) movies. The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts offers interpreted performances.

Infant Hearing Screening in Alaska

Alaska's Health & Social Services office of Women's, Children's, and Family Health provides information on Universal Newborn Hearing Screening in Alaska. This program offers parents information packets covering general information on newborn hearing screening, community contacts, basic information on hearing loss, and a more detailed parent resource manual on early hearing detection and intervention.

Information and Referral on Deafness in Alaska

The Alaska Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf Blind Council serves as an information clearinghouse for the state of Alaska, and refers people to appropriate services in or near Alaska.

Interpreting and Relay Services

Alaska has its own chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the Alaska Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. There is also a statewide telecommunications relay service, the Alaska Relay. One of the places people in Alaska can turn to when seeking interpreting services is the Access Alaska interpreter referral line. In addition, some social service organizations (see below) also offer interpreter referral services.

Organizations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Alaska has an Anchorage chapter for the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Religious Services for Deaf in Alaska

The Bible Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska proudly proclaims on its website that all of their services are interpreted. Plus, the Anchorage Church of Christ has a deaf ministry with a deaf minister.

Sign for "Alaska"

There is a sign for Alaska. It looks like hands making the shape of an Eskimo hood, using the "A" handshape. The University of Alaska offers sign language classes under its Humanities curriculum.

Social Services

Alaska has multiple social services for deaf and hard of hearing people. First, the Deaf Community Services in Fairbanks offers, among other things, interpreter referral services, rehabilitation services, and assistive technology.

Southeast Alaska Independent Living has a Deaf Services program providing interpreting services and training and other services.

The Arc of Anchorage Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center offers independent living services, interpreter referral, and residential living services for rural students attending the school for the deaf. In addition, the Arc sponsors the Camp Aurora summer camp for deaf and hard of hearing teens in Alaska.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in Alaska has a statewide coordinator for the deaf.

Speech and Audiology Services

Parents and teachers seeking speech language pathologists and audiology services can contact the Alaska Speech Language Hearing Association.
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