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Local nonprofit for deaf and hearing impaired facing COVID-19 impact

Posted at 10:38 PM, May 11, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — As area organizations look to return to normal, many are still coming to grips with the major impacts COVID-19 has left on operations.

Total Source for Hearing Loss and Access in Tulsa has faced the pandemic with different challenges than most and is looking to the community in hopes of a rebound.

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic changed a world perspective. People were forced into limitations and given guidelines on how to live safely.

But for people like Shareca Thompson, this new world of being unable to do this or that, was one she was already familiar with.

"As you can see, I’m in a wheelchair,” Thompson said. “I have nerve damage from surgery, complications. I'm not able to go outside like other people."

Thompson is also deaf and navigating through society is anything but easy, especially now.

"Hearing people don't have any problems communicating with a mask because you can hear what another person is saying,” she said. “Deaf and hard of hearing people depend a lot on lip reading."

Although everyone is facing isolation, the deaf and hard of hearing encounter it differently, looking for ways to stay in-the-know and receive aid while also maintaining a social distance.

That's where TSHA comes in, a nonprofit United Way Agency.

"I go to the doctor a lot and to communicate, I have interpreters,” Thompson said.

It's just one of many services provided by TSHA, which is currently facing many hurdles because of the pandemic.

"We've certainly seen our services that we tend to do in person, like some sign language interpreters tend to go out personally, that has really had to be restricted,” Diana Emerson, program and community resource director for TSHA, said.

Not only that, but funding to provide crucial resources have also taken a hit.

"We had a 5K fundraiser scheduled for April, which obviously have to be postponed,” Emerson said. “So, we are seeing an impact from the coronavirus just as other agencies are."

TSHA is hoping to get back to normalcy, providing in-person aid to those who need it most, and it needs the public's help with donations.

"We would love to also see people really being mindful of reaching out to their hard-of-hearing and deaf neighbors and family members. "

If you’d like to help TSHA get back on its feet or learn more about its cause, you can visit its website here.

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