A mosaic hanging at the Alameda County Family Justice Center.

Any deaf visitors will be directed to DeafHope, which focuses specifically on providing services to victims of domestic violence in that community. “We just feel like there really is a need,” says Aracelia Aguilar, an empowerment director with DeafHope, speaking through a relay interpreter via phone. “And we can see how people are trying to survive. There’s such limited communication.”

DeafHope was founded in 2003 by Julie Rems-Smario along with eight other women, who recognized there was a need for specialized services. Previously, says Rems-Smario, also speaking through a relay interpreter, in domestic violence cases, it was often easier for survivors to stay in an abusive home where the abuser knew sign language than to access services available for sexual assault or domestic violence victims, which were designed for the hearing community.

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