Deaf advocacy a survival story

When a West Chester-based agency that served the deaf and hard of hearing had a falling out with its founders and eventually ceased to exist, the founders began anew, working to ensure that its community could continue to receive needed services.

The Deaf Community Action Network - DeafCAN - has sprung from the ashes of the Center for Hearing and Deafness (CHAD). CHAD began through the efforts of Bill Lockard, and his wife, Beth. Bill Lockard said the couple met in 1981 when he was working at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia and she was doing a teaching internship there. He mastered ASL, often interpreting for his wife, deaf since childhood from spinal meningitis. 

Using their basement as an office, the couple began trying to reduce barriers experienced by the hard of hearing, such as obtaining a job or navigating a doctor's office. CHAD began in 1994 and was recognized as a go-to agency for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community until the Lockards, frustrated with the actions of a new board of directors, left in the spring of 2010.

Without the Lockards as anchors, CHAD did not survive, but the couple was already working to fill the void. Now, they are seeking support for a Sept. 25 fundraiser for DeafCAN, which will begin with a morning celebration at Christ the King Deaf Church in West Chester and conclude with a dinner at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Exton. For details about the fund-raiser, call 484-319-4256 or 866-817-9023. Additional information about DeafCAN can be found at

 According to state records, Pennsylvania has about 48,500 deaf residents, and more than 500,000 who are hard of hearing.