Deaf Community of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania seems like a pretty good community to live if you are deaf. In this profile of the deaf community of Philadelphia, everything mentioned has a Philadelphia address.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, Washington Monument Statue, Eakins Oval
dszc / Getty Images

Accessible Theatres

Philadelphia's biggest strength with regard to deaf-friendliness seems to be the generous supply of accessible performing arts theatres. Hands UP Productions regularly interprets theater performances at the Walnut Street Theatre and the Arden Theatre Company. The Philadelphia Theatre Company offers open-captioned performances. Another theatre offering captioned performances is the Amaryllis Theatre Company. The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts offers assistive listening devices; one source states they also have sign interpreted performances but this information was not available on their website's accessibility page.

Captioned and Subtitled Cinema

Searching on Philadelphia, PA yielded three foreign subtitled film sources, one rear window captioned source, and one open-captioned source:

  • AMC Franklin Mills Mall: rear window captioned film
  • Ritz East: foreign subtitled film
  • Ritz Theatres Ritz at the Bourse: foreign subtitled film
  • Ritz Theatres Ritz Five: foreign subtitled films
  • UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17: open captioned film

Additional opportunities to see foreign subtitled films are offered by the Philadelphia Cinema Alliance. Plus, the America-Italy Society of Philadelphia has a Cinema all'italiana program that has subtitled films. Furthermore, there is an annual Philadelphia Independent Film Festival that features some foreign subtitled films.

Accessible Museums

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an Accessibility Office that can help with sign language interpreting and captioning.

Religious Services

Philadelphia is home to a few churches for the deaf, such as the All Souls Church for the Deaf and St. Philips Church of the Deaf. There is also the Philadelphia Deaf Ministries, which meets at the Calvary Temple in South Philadelphia. Jewish deaf residents of Philadelphia can join the Hebrew Association of the Deaf, which holds its events such as Shabbat at the Rose Olanoff Community Center.

Social Life

There is a sizable Philadelphia American Sign Language Social Group that hosts a Philadelphia Deaf Professional Happy Hour. On the PSD website is a Community section that has a listing of current activities and events for the Philadelphia deaf community.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Organizations

The Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf has a greater Philadelphia chapter. National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) has a Philadelphia chapter; see the NBDA website for current contact information. Hard of hearing residents of Philadelphia can connect with the Philadelphia chapter of Hearing Loss Association of America.

Deaf Education

Philadelphia is home to the well-known The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD). PSD is an old private school that dates back to 1820. It is located in the historic Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

For deafblind students, there is the Overbrook School for the Blind, which with assistance from the Pennsylvania Deafblind Project offers services for deafblind infants and toddlers as well as students up to 21 years old.

Parents of deaf and hard of hearing students in Philadelphia who prefer to mainstream their children can work with the Office of Specialized Instructional Services in the School District of Philadelphia to find a placement.

Audiology and Cochlear Implant Services

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a pediatric cochlear implant program. Another children's hospital, the St. Christopher's Hospital for Children, offers only audiology services.

Interpreting and Captioning

People in Philadelphia who are interested in becoming interpreters can take interpreter training at the Community College of Philadelphia. Interpreter referral services and a community interpreting program are available through DHHC. In addition, 360 Translations International, Inc. provides interpreter referral services in Philadelphia.

Sign Language

The Center For Community And Professional Services (CCPS) at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf offers sign language classes. Parents seeking to learn baby sign language can take classes through Sign with Me in Philadelphia. Plus The Expressive Hand, a pottery and sign language studio, offers sign language classes.

Social Services

The Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre's (DHCC) service area includes Philadelphia County, which includes the city of Philadelphia. CCPS also offers deaf adult literacy services. Additional social services are available through the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a council of nonprofits that offers services for deaf youth. The Free Library of Philadelphia has Braille materials for deaf-blind residents. Philadelphia even has its own Philadelphia Deaf Lions Club, a club within the Lions, a service club organization.

Mental Health Services

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a Family Wellness Program that offers mental health services and referrals. In addition, Intercommunity Action Inc. has interpreting services for deaf mental health clients.

All this is just what is available in the city of Philadelphia itself. Next door in New Jersey there is even more for the Philadelphia deaf community.

By Jamie Berke
 Jamie Berke is a deafness and hard of hearing expert.