Deaf VISA

Deaf Visitors & Immigrants for Self Advocacy

Our Mission in Action

Connecting Communities

International Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf-Blind (DHH-DB) individuals may feel isolated or underestimated interacting in various social circles here in America. Such isolation inhibits culturally enriching exchanges that strengthen individuals and communities. Deaf VISA believes in the value of diversity and works to promote it with the primary goal of enhancing the inclusion of DHH-DB visitors, immigrants, and refugees. We create activities that bring diverse members of signing communities together to break down barriers and perceived limitations. Through a series of popular activities, participants engage in natural social interaction to make real and lasting connections. This program aims to bring people together and reduce misperceptions about people of different backgrounds, especially regarding DHH-DB people of international origin. 

Program Components: 

The Language Exchange
This program focusses on language learning of DHH-DB people of international origin. Key components of this program are also designed to connect communities, with a focus on the inclusion of DHH-DB visitors, immigrants and refugees in various social circles. Activities include Game Night, Conversation Partnering, Halloween Story Night, and The Thanksgiving Feast among others. 

Game Night
This monthly event provides opportunity for individuals to establish vital community connections and friendships in a diverse and upbeat environment. The games are designed to be interactive, eye-opening, inclusive, and educational. 

Conversation Partnering 
Although the primary focus of this program is language learning, the process allows people of different backgrounds to develop a deeper understanding of each other's culture and experiences. Partners may interact in person or online. We are currently seeking support to re-establish and enhance this activity. 

Halloween Story Night 
This fun cultural event is attended by hearing and DHH-DB people from many backgrounds who, in addition to enjoying Deaf Story telling, also engage in group activities to learn about one another and practice ASL story-telling techniques themselves. 

 The Annual Thanksgiving Feast 
This popular event brings 60 to 80 people together for a day of food and fun. It is designed to build awareness about the diversity within the signing community through targeted positive interaction.

Affirming Strengths

DHH internationals face social and systemic barriers to education and opportunity both in their home countries and here in America. While many DHH internationals may disproportionately experience social, educational, and other gaps, this is not the case for all. Deaf VISA has chosen a strategy that showcases and builds upon strengths by starting wherever people are.


The Deaf International Panel is just one forum where DHH internationals can share stories of immense struggle, perseverance, and strength often in the face of extreme hardship. We are also currently developing materials that highlight the strengths of DHH internationals living or staying in America to share with the wider community.

Promoting Communication

Language barriers can lead even the most well-meaning teachers, interpreters, or peers to underestimate DHH internationals' capacity for communication. To combat this tendency, we design programs that place DHH internationals in situations where they can both teach and learn multiple modes of visual communication. 


Through The Language Exchange,  DHH internationals engage in ASL and print-English conversations with native users to reinforce 2nd language learning. In return,  DHH internationals are paired with those new to visual communication to have conversations through gesturing and drawing.


Advancing Self-Advocacy

DHH internationals must adjust to the cultures, procedures, and languages of America. If they come with partial or no access to information and resources that are widely available to others, this can be difficult. When DHH seek support, gaps in assumed knowledge or experiences can become glaringly evident. Many may doubt their capacity for independent thought or action. 


Core components of Deaf VISA were designed to counter such perceptions and to provide direct access to information that has been widely available to other populations.

We periodically host workshops and discussions on a variety of topics that expand access to widely circulated information and that establish and time management, study skills, physical and mental health, self-defense, and more.