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Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center brings deaf awareness to area businesses with free lunch & learn programs

Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center (DHHC) is helping Lee County businesses enhance communication with the deaf and hard of hearing community by offering free lunch and learn programs on Deaf Awareness and American Sign Language.

A $5,000 grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation launched “Sign the City,” a program to bring lunch for 15 to 20 people and teach employees how to sign the alphabet, common introductions and specific words related to business to help with communication with clients. In addition to lunch, an American Sign Language instructor and all materials are provided.

The program provides about 60 minutes of engaging instruction and serves as an opportunity for employers and their associates to explore Deaf Culture and learn how to better communicate with potential employees and customers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Lunch is provided in partnership with Glory Days Café.

“What was great about it is we now know the center exists and we have a place to fall back on if any of our clients need things we can’t provide” said Enas Bendeck, an employment consultant and job coach for Goodwill Industries. In addition to basic sign language, the team learned about resources for connecting hard of hearing employees with others in the community. “We are constantly looking at how to provide the best service to everyone.”

Bendeck said many of the 15 attendees at the Goodwill session asked about taking additional American Sign Language classes, and she hopes to connect other departments and businesses with the program.

“It was engaging, informative and fun,” Bendeck said. “I think there’s a need for it.”

Any business interested in scheduling a lunch and learn can call 239-461-0334 voice phone, 239-247-5821 video phone.

About Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center

Founded in 1983 as The Deaf Service Center, the Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center is the only organization of its kind in Southwest Florida specifically working to improve the quality of life for the deaf and hard of hearing citizens and their families through education, advocacy and community involvement. A wide range of services are offered to deaf and hard of hearing children and adults of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Glades and DeSoto counties, including interpreting services, free telephone equipment loans, deaf mentor program, American sign language classes, information and referral services, employment assistance, family education, community outreach and education, and adaptive equipment sales. For information, call 239-461-0334 voice phone, 239-247-5821 video phone, or visit https://dhhc.life/.

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