Deaf community expanding services at annual festival - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Deaf community expanding services at annual festival

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JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) -

East Texans are researching different resources to help people in our area who are deaf and hard of hearing.

A lot of research was done at the 22nd annual East Texas deaf festival Saturday in Jacksonville. The deaf community plans to improve the services for deaf people in 23 East Texas counties.

Mark Grimes has been bringing people together for the East Texas deaf festival since 1993.  

"Anybody can come; they're welcome to come and know that East Texas does have a deaf community here," Grimes said. "The big cities they're aware but the small towns are not."

Susie Grona had the chance to reunite with an old friend from 40 years ago at Saturday's festival.

"The deaf community is small. Everyone can see their old friends," Grona said. "For example, one of my old friends and I hadn't seen for 40 years; talking was so cool. It's a place for everybody to come together and meet and mingle."

At the 2010 festival, Grona says she found out there has never been a center for the deaf in the community. For more than 30 years she has been hands on with the deaf center in Corpus Christi.

"We could go there and socialize, we could get services, we had summer recreation programs for children who are deaf, and we had literacy programs for adults," Grona said.

In 2012, a group of East Texans received their non profit status for the Tyler Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center.

"We've just been steadily working to find out what those services are that we can offer, and we've just recently started offering interpreter services," said board president Lonny McKinzie.

Grona is a retired teacher who feels there are not enough resources for deaf adults and children.

"The deaf kids go to school here and they go home, and they may not have any communication with their parents," Grona said. "Some parents can sign but most do not. I want to offer my help with tutoring and give back to the deaf community."

The Tyler Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center board says they hope to get a facility this year.

"We need more help, we need more board members, and we're just anxious to be able to start offering more services to the deaf community," McKinzie said.

You can find out more information on the deaf center, the services it provides and how to get involved on their web site.

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