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National Conference: November 5 - 6, 2013


November 5 and 6, 2013 - Vancouver Washington

The Bridging the Gap: Creating a Community of Support for Deaf Survivors conference was held on November 5 and 6, 2013, at the Hilton Vancouver Washington, situated in the beautiful Pacific Northwest just minutes away from Portland Oregon. The conference included 4 keynote addresses and more than 15 workshops on meeting the needs of Deaf survivors, including understanding Deaf culture, working with interpreters, and how to be a hearing ally, among many others. The presentations were provided by a diverse array of practitioners, including Deaf survivors and hearing allies.

Esther Short Park - located less than a block away from the Hilton Vancouver Hilton Photo Courtesy of the Vancouver USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Esther Short Park - located less than a block away from the Hilton Vancouver Hilton
Photo Courtesy of the Vancouver USA Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Meeting the Needs of Deaf Survivors

Limited research suggests that Deaf women experience domestic violence and sexual assault at rates equal to or higher than hearing women. However, they are much less likely to receive services and supports from mainstream hearing victim services. Lack of outreach, communication barriers, including lack of TTYs and access to American Sign Language interpreters, and the lack of Deaf cultural competency, are all barriers that contribute to Deaf survivors not receiving the services and support they need. When a Deaf survivor does get connected to an agency, oftentimes communication barriers prevent them from being able to fully participate in the services and supports offered. Due to this, Deaf survivors and advocates report high levels of isolation among Deaf survivors. This isolation can keep Deaf survivors in dangerous situations with no perceived way out, or leave them without critical health support after an assault.

At the Bridging the Gap conference, our goal was to teach how to: create an environment within your organization that is Deaf friendly; communicate with Deaf survivors; work with American Sign Language interpreters; safety plan with Deaf survivors; and conduct more adequate outreach to the Deaf community. We also hope attendees learned about Deaf organizations from across the country, and how to partner with Deaf specific domestic and sexual violence services.

Who Attended?

  • Court Personnel
  • Domestic violence program advocates, educators, and managers
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Prosecutors
  • Rape crisis center advocates, educators, and managers
  • Sexual assault foresnic examiners and sexual assault nurse examiners, and other medical personnel
  • State domestic violence and sexual assault coalition staff
  • STOP Administrators
  • Office on Violence Against Women grantees
  • Other allied professionals

Organizations from the same community were encouraged to attend in teams to foster collaboration.

This conference was an OVW-sponsored conference. With approval from your OVW Program Specialist, OVW grant funds could have possibly been used to support your attendance.

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact CVS staff by email at