From 1972 to 2012: Share Your VDDHH Memories

  • Jul 6, 2012
  • |
  • publicrelationsdept

Best Entries to be Read at 40th Anniversary Open House July 27-28

In honor of VDDHH’s 40th year of service excellence to Virginia’s deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened and deaf-blind communities, Virginia Relay invites you to share your favorite VDDHH memories. Whether you are a member or employee of a partner organization, or a member of one of the communities VDDHH serves, please post your best stories, experiences or congratulations in the comments section below. Select entries will be shared at a celebratory open house to be hosted at VDDHH headquarters on July 27-28. We want to hear from you!

VDDHH 40th Anniversary Open House

  • VDDHH Headquarters: 1602 Rolling Hills Drive, Suite 203, Richmond, Va. 23229
  • Friday, July 27: 4pm-7pm
  • Saturday, July 28: 9am-Noon
  • Free and open to the public. No registration is required.

VDDHH and its partners invite you to help us celebrate 40 successful years of breaking down communication barriers in the deaf, hard-of-hearing, late-deafened and deaf-blind communities.

  • Hear about our vision for the future from Dr. Bill Hazel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources
  • See exhibits on the latest relay services, assistive technologies and more
  • Meet VDDHH staff and 17 partners, including the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, Valley Community Services Board and more
  • Enjoy complimentary refreshments and fun for all

For additional details, call 1-800-552-7917 (V/TTY) or visit

Don’t forget to share your VDDHH memories below!

5 Responses for "From 1972 to 2012: Share Your VDDHH Memories"

  1. Pat Isaacs July 17th, 2012 at 9:05 pm #1

    In 1977 or 1978, VDDHH was called VCD. VCD held an Town Hall Meeting in far Southwest VA. I think it was in Norton. Back in the 1970’s before the new roads, it was at least a 7 hour trip from Richmond., and all the Deaf people were excited to have VCD come. It really was a big event! The staff had done great outreach to let people know and many Deaf people came. It was such a celebration, Everyone wanted to speak and just let the VCD staff know how happy they were.

    One couple who were probably about 70 years old came. They lived about an hour away, in a small mountain coal town. They were dressed very shabbily. They told us that they had gone to school in KY. The man told stories about his school life and playing football. His sign was very old fashioned, and Fred Yates thought quickly and began to act as an interviewer for the man, and also repeated his comments in more modern sign language in such a respectful way. I will never forget that day.

  2. Mary Nunnally July 23rd, 2012 at 11:30 pm #2

    My first visit to VCD was in 1975 and all I really remember is meeting Lorene Joslin as Fred Yates’ interpreter. We had come to Richmond for an appeal hearing of my father’s unemployment benefits and Fred was a “character witness”. From that day forward, Fred “hounded” me to become an interpreter. When I transferred to VCU in 1979 & moved to Richmond, I found my way to the Main Street Office of VCD and Fred. I was in love with the library. Every paper I wrote for my college classes were about deafness and I spent many days either researching in the VCD library or checking out materials. Later I got invited to those weekly Friday lunches at the old S&W Cafeteria at Willow Lawn. This is where Fred met Lera & Bernard Moore for lunch before he drove home to Staunton. Occasionally Jimmy Cutler joined them too. Being a lonely Coda away from home, I joined them as often as I could as I was “starved” for signing. I learned so much from those Icons, they were my Idols.

    While Fred continued to hound me, I did finally go for my RID Certification. Being a naive 20 year old, I was clueless about the “professionalism” of interpreting. I freaked when I found out that Fred was on my evaluation panel (yes, live panel back in those days). I was so terrified that I couldn’t even sign. Fred called a “time out”, took me out of the room and told me to relax and be myself. He reassured me that I could do it as he had been watching me since I was a youngster. Somehow I was able to get over my nervousness and get through the performance testing. I told no one about it until I got my results, which was passing. Then Lorene taught me about the field of interpreting.

    Lily Bess became the Director as Fred returned to his beloved VSDB and Staunton. Lily identified the need for a community center for the deaf after the Richmond Center for the Deaf (J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College) reduced services due to funding reductions. Brandermill Lions Club was looking for a service project and Lily convinced them that this was a major gap. This led to the creation of the Communication Center for the Deaf (CCD) and my first job utilizing my skills from my B.S.W. and RID Certification.

    VDDHH has a rich history and strong roots since its creation within the deaf community. As you can tell from my story, I am one of many professionals who benefited from the services and resources. Without this agency and its dedicated staff, who knows what field I would be working in today? Thank you, VDDHH, and I salute you as we celebrate 40 years of great services.

  3. Rachel Bavister July 24th, 2012 at 11:36 am #3

    I will always treasure my Virginia Relay knitted scarf! Received it when the Fricks and I drove down to Norton in the snow (without 4 wheel drive!) to celebrate VRS’s first year, or was it VRS’s millionth customer? Our Relay out of the Piggly wiggly is the best. RB

  4. Rachel Bavister July 24th, 2012 at 11:42 am #4

    Another story — I came to Virginia in 1973 and met the Moores for the first time. I do believe it was Fred Yates who introduced us. Lera and I got chatting, and she said “Oh, you’re an English teacher?” She had a gleam in her eye which I interpreted to mean, “Let’s share books”, or something like that.
    The very next time we met, Lera handed me 2 shoe boxes full of correspondence and other documents and asked me (flattered me, really into doing it) to put all this information into an essay on the History of the Founding of VCD.
    It took me a while as I didn’t even know very much about our new agency; but I did it. RB

  5. Arva Priola July 25th, 2012 at 2:00 pm #5

    Arva PriolaJuly 25th, 2012 at 11:05 am#5

    In 1989 I was living life to the fullist and suddenly it was turned upside down with the loss of my hearing. As a health and physical education teacher in the elementary school it would mean the end of my career as a teacher.

    I was hospitalized for the hearing loss for 14 days at Georgetown with no access to family or friends. I was alone. If it was not for my brother in law listening and writing things down I would not known anything about what the doctors were saying. At that time I began my advocacy role for myself and others.

    I had to retire from teaching on disability.

    I thought to myself how am I going to be able to hear my three children and was very concerned about their personal safety. How would I call their doctor or hear the smoke detectors in my home when they went off. Most of all to be able to understand them saying I love you Mom.

    Having experienced this I became an advocate. The only way at that time that I could communicate was through a letter. I wrote many letters. One to a very special person named Cheryl Heppner who had been a part of the VDDHH staff. She was one of the only one that wrote me back. She told me about VDDHH and also put me in contact with Eileen Cooper. I learned about a wonderful national association the Hearing Loss Assocaition of America.

    Through contact with Eileen Cooper and others founded the Hearing Loss Association of America Rappahannock Chapter. Also learned so much from Lois Hodge and Charles Christie.

    Though self education got my first TTY so I could communicate over the phone with other deaf. Then VDDHH established the Virigina Relay and I could call anyone. it saved my life from isolation. I could stay in contact with family and friends. Most important of all could continue understand and be a part of my children education.

    I started with learning sign langauge first at home with a tutor for all the family. I continued and went to J Seagant Reynolds Community College to take classes. Meet Ronald Lanier for the first time who was working for VDDHH ( taught ASL I class) and Christine Ruderson was in my ASL I class. Of course met Cat Clough my teacher at that time.

    At that time VDDHH the director was Mrs Buchman and they offered an advocacy class for those with hearing loss. I took that class and was off to becoming an advocate. During that time got to meet Leslie Prince as she presented from VDDHH.

    I have seen technology grow from the TTY and now Video Relay. Most important to me CapTel as it is so important for the late deafened adult as well as the hard of hearing. Then CapTel on my cell phone is surreal.

    As I learn more about technology, advocacy , and peer counseling. It also helped by attending many conventions for HLAA. I also was a board member.

    Through meeting other with hearing loss learned about mental health counselors for the deaf, deafblind, hard of hearing, and late deafened adults. I became a memeber of the Mental Health Counsel for the state.

    At the same time met Mary Nunually the state director for rehab for all people with hearing loss. Never forget our travels to doing training about the hard of hearing and deaf. My kids will never forget the Alertmaster they saw for the first time. They thought the vibrator was so funny.

    God presented an oppotunity to go back to work for the disAbility Resource Center to start the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program. We were honored to be the first CIL to have a private contract with VDDHH.

    God had given me so much over the years and if it was not for UVA Cochlear Implant Center under Dr. Paul Lambert I would never have gone back to work. Miracle of hearing again open doors to serve the state of the Commonwealth.

    I have been with the disAbility Resource Center starting my 17th year. VDDHH has givien me so much. Thanks to Governor George Allen that first made Outreach for VDDHH private.

    I have meet so many fine people. I will always reminder Gloria that served as the librarian. she was there with a smile and always willing to help in anyway she could Virginians.

    Then meeting the money man Clay Bowen that has served so well through the years in helping us in anyway he could do our job. We cannot forget Sue Browning the first Outreach Coordinator for the state.

    I am so thankful for all the staff at VDDHH in their many different roles.

    It is so important for VDDHH remain a separate agency as agency throughout the state would put people with hearing loss on their bottom of their list in serving them. Hearing people just do not understand our needs and VDDHH is there to assist all Virignians not matter who you are.

    VDDHH and HLAA has made me who I am today with vital information to live independent life.

    I just want to say thanks you for 40 years of wonderful service in the Commonwealth.

    Arva Priola