Nashville, Tennesee is on many lists as one of the most liveable and affordable cities in the U.S. It is also home to many of the state’s hearing-impaired residents and offers a plethora of state, municipal, and community-based services to the deaf and hard of hearing.
Many of the services for the deaf are coordinated by the Tennessee Council for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing (TCDDBHH) created in 1978. The council has centers across the state, including in Nashville. Among its responsibilities, the TCDDBHH provides funding for many community centers and vocational rehabilitation services.
Other deaf and hard-of-hearing organizations in the Nashville area include:
- Tennessee Association of the Deaf, Nashville Chapter
- Hearing Loss Association of America, Nashville Chapter
Arts and Entertainment
Deaf and hard-of-hearing residents are provided open captioning at two movie theaters in the Nashville area: the Regal Hollywood Stadium 27 on Berry Hill and the Regal Opry Mills 20 adjacent to the Grand Ole Opry in Tally Green.
Silent dinners, a new phenomenon in which diners are asked not to speak during the dining event, have gained popularity among both hearing and hearing-impaired patrons. Many of these are scheduled in the Nashville area, primarily in upper-end shopping complexes such as the Opry Mills Mall, Cool Springs Mall, and the Rivergate Mall.
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center in downtown Nashville offers live interpreters for many of their performances and provides infrared assistive listening devices upon request at all three of their theaters.
The grand dame of the country music scene, the Grand Ole Opry, also offers interpreter and communication access real-time translation (CART) to deaf patrons through the Nashville-based Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
ASL Interpreters in Nashville
In addition to Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, there are a number of organizations and individuals offering interpreting services in American sign language (ASL). You can find many of these through the Nashville chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
Another popular agency is Gate Communications which offers religious and performance ASL services in both Nashville and surrounding communities.
Deaf Education and ASL Training
The Mama Lere Hearing School, based at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, offers an oral education to deaf children through the age of six. The objective is to help preschool children better mainstream into the local educational school system.
Similar services are offered through the Tennessee Early Intervention Services (TEIS) program which uses the SKI-HI curriculum for families with infants, toddlers, or preschoolers who are deaf.
Among the organizations and schools offering training in ASL in the Nashville area:
- Nashville State Community College offers an associate’s degree in ASL, one of the few colleges in Tennessee to do so.
- Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center offers a Master in Education of the Deaf (MDE) degree for individuals wanting to pursue a professional interpreting career.
- Trevecca Nazarene University‘s Department of Communication Studies offers ASL I and II classes.
- Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing also offers conversational ASL classes for both adults and children.
The Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Nashville is responsible for overseeing services for the deaf at the Nashville Public Library and all other libraries in the state. They also offer a comprehensive, regularly updated online directory of services for the deaf.
Religious Services for the Deaf
The Brentwood Baptist Deaf Church near Nashville in the only congregation in Tennessee dedicated to serving the deaf community and their families. Among their offerings, the church organizes a summer camp for children to help improve their ASL communication skills.
Christ Church Nashville near Brentwood also offers ASL interpreting services during their 10:30 a.m. services as does the Central Church of Christ in downtown Nashville which offers Sunday and Wednesday services in their Chapel for the Deaf.
Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant Services
There are many audiology clinics and hearing aid providers throughout the Nashville area. Among some of the more highly regarded:
- Ronald C Sheffey Hearing Services/Ears 4 U near downtown Nashville
- Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Tennessee State University
- Vanderbilt Balance and Hearing Center adjacent to Vanderbilt University
- Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center at Vanderbilt University which offers a state-of-the-art cochlear implant program