Dozens of DeafBlind people from around the Twin Cities gather once a month for food, fun, and mutual support.
Says club host and founding member, Steve Oglesbee: “The DeafBlind Club was set up so that people could chat and play games. With the help of several organizations, DB Club has continued to meet the third Saturday of each month and we have added support service providers and interpreting students. It is great to see people from the DeafBlind community come together every four weeks.”
The group meets at Rise’s Minnesota Employment Center (MEC), located at Lifetrack in St. Paul. In addition to providing the space for DeafBlind Club to meet, MEC team members are also on hand to assist with whatever is needed — setting up the room, getting things ready for the pizza or potluck lunch, assisting with communication access as needed, and overall community involvement.
MEC’s Lead Occupational Communication Specialist Austin Beatty has been active with the DeafBlind community for more than eight years, and brought that involvement to his work at Rise.
“This is a great group of people who enjoy getting together for socializing and support from others with a shared experience,” said Austin. “This is one of a few ongoing social opportunities for DeafBlind people in the metro area. It also gives people an opportunity to share information relevant to the community, such as legislative updates, voting information, or other events of interest to DeafBlind people.”
A secondary, but equally important function of DB Club is to provide a welcoming space for students of ASL interpreter training programs to get exposure to the DeafBlind community and become more familiar with their unique language demands.
Working with DeafBlind people requires a different set of skills which most interpreter training programs don’t often focus on. Volunteering at the DB Club is a way to get people involved at an early stage in their careers as well as increase the pool of qualified DeafBlind interpreters and support providers.
A much-anticipated event is the annual Minnesota DeafBlind Association (MDBA) Thanksgiving Banquet, now in its 38th year. It was held on November 11 at the Ramada Plaza in Minneapolis. People from across Minnesota, as well as from eight other states, attended this year, and enjoyed not only a great turkey dinner with all the trimmings, but raffles, door prizes, and many awards and recognitions to community advocates and supporters.
MEC sponsored a table and six MEC team members volunteered their time in various capacities throughout the evening.
“This banquet is, by far, the biggest event of the year for the DeafBlind community,” said Austin. “I have been attending this banquet since 2010, and each year seems to be bigger and better than the last.”
For more information about the DeafBlind Club, or if you’d like to attend a gathering, contact Austin at MEC: firstname.lastname@example.org.