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Federal Grant To Help Deaf People Who Are Victims Of Domestic Violence

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A local  agency that helps victims of domestic violence says a federal grant will help it serve a part of the Rochester population that may not be getting all of the assistance it needs.

The Willow Domestic Violence Center, previously known as Alternatives for Battered Women, is getting a $425,000 federal grant to help serve those who are deaf or hard of hearing and who are also victims of domestic violence.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter announced the grant, noting that on a per capita basis, Rochester is home to the nation's largest deaf population.

Jamie Saunders is President and CEO of Willow. She says people who are deaf and hard of hearing can face special challenges in trying to get away from violent situations involving domestic partners.

“A victim of domestic violence can often feel isolated and alone, and it’s so hard to leave in the first place , many do, many do successfully but it’s already challenging enough, and that is for the hearing population.”

Saunders says the grant will help update outmoded types of technology that the Willow Center has now to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing.

“At Willow Center, while we have reached out and we have served clients who are deaf and hard of hearing, our entire system is 20 years old. It’s based on a buzzing system, it’s based on communications with the telephones, through our hotline, all of these can be barriers to leaving in the best of circumstances.”

The Willow Center is also working with two other local organizations to administer the three-year grant.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.