The Story of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Lancaster County
t was 1946 and many GI’s had returned from World War II with serious
hearing loss. A group of prominent citizens from central Pennsylvania decided to help. On December 7, 1946 they formed a nonprofit agency that was chartered and known as the Hearing Conservation Center. The Center provided audiological help to the heroes who had paid a great price for serving our country. The agency eventually came to serve many others who had experienced hearing loss.
Separately, but with just as much importance, the Counseling Services for the Deaf, Inc. was chartered in 1973 to provide assistance to persons who were born with, or who experienced, a total loss of hearing. Initially, services were provided to the Deaf Community in the home of one of its founding members.
With both agencies looking for ways to provide greater help to those in need, talks began with the United Way toward merging the two agencies into one. In 1979, the two formerly independent charitable businesses became one, with the Hearing Conservation Center as the managing entity. The new agency retained its affiliation as a United Way agency.
Providing services to the Deaf Community became an increasingly important part of the new agency’s mission. Case management services were provided without charge — American Sign Language interpreting services and educational classes were provided to fund this new service. The new agency went through a number of name changes before settling on "Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Lancaster County.” DHHS, as it was affectionately called, assisted thousands of people with needs ranging from hearing aids to homelessness.
DHHS and its predecessor agencies were all nonprofit businesses highly focused on helping people and less focused on the competitive market place of business. In time, many for profit audiology practices and interpreting services opened, competing with DHHS’ profitable services (hurting funding for DHHS' work), but the need for services to the Deaf Community continued.
In 2014, the Board of Directors and the management team at DHHS evaluated options for the continuance of case management services. The Disability Empowerment Center (DEC) agreed to take these services into their organization. In 2016, after nearly 70 years, DHHS found itself unable to continue, and concluded operations. We would like to extend sincere thanks to everyone who supported DHHS during its long and distinctive history of service to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.
The Board of Directors, Management and Staff of
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services of Lancaster County