Why a Program Just for the Deaf

Many times, a Deaf person needing treatment for chemical dependency issues will be admitted to a treatment program designed to serve hearing people, and communication takes place through a sign language interpreter. In such a situation, interpreters are provided on a limited basis, such as, a few hours a day for group sessions or lectures. Without the constant service of an interpreter the Deaf client can feel restricted in his/her access to staff.  In addition, this may prevent interactions with other clients, these connections are a key part of the treatment process. Our goal is to provide an atmosphere of Deaf culture, allowing the patient to feel at ease with the environment.

Our program provides for the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals in the following ways: our program staff is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), we are knowledgeable and respectful of Deaf culture, and we have expertise working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing chemically dependent individuals. This allows for direct communication in the client’s native language without a third party having to be present. We provide a full range of professional services in chemical dependency treatment including individual therapy, group therapy and self-contained therapeutic services.

We, at the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals, are proud to be a component of Fairview Chemical Dependency Services, located in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota Medical Center- Fairview. For more than 30 years Fairview has been nationally recognized as a pioneer in chemical dependency treatment.


Here are just some of the ways in which we meet the specific needs of our clients:


  • Our team is made up of members who are Deaf and hearing.
  • Signed language is used to communicate with clients starting at the intake and assessment process, continuing through treatment, and on into aftercare planning.
  • Once in treatment, we provide dedicated staff fluent in sign language seven days a week, from 8:30am-9:00pm.
  • A small staff to patient ratio allows us to meet the individual needs of patients.
  • Sign language interpreters are on staff to facilitate communication when needed for interactions with the Hearing program.
  • Education on many topics related to alcohol and drugs is a crucial component of the program. Mini workshops presented in ASL include instruction about HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis/STIs, and domestic violence.
  • Clients participate in workshops covering an array of topics such as coping with grief, success in the workforce, and improving interpersonal relationships.
  • Psychological services are available.
  • A family program for families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing members is provided as a component of our program. Group therapy and lectures offer the participants both information and support. Families are invited to attend our Family Week, an educational and therapeutic program bringing patients together with their loved ones, participating in the process side by side.
  • Treatment materials are adapted to a broad spectrum of client communication preferences. Adaptations include modified written English, signed and captioned DVDs, and visual based activities.
  • As part of the therapeutic process, patients attend several twelve-step meetings in the community every week. Support is continually given to clients coping with the feelings of frustration or isolation that are sometimes felt as a Deaf person.
  • To help ease the transition back to the realities of daily life, aftercare plans are individualized to meet each client’s needs. Plans include indentifying appropriate resources, counseling services, written materials, ASL Twelve Steps DVD, and an educational component. The aftercare plan is printed out with specific details for the client to take with him/her upon graduation.

For admission into our Program or for more information, please contact Central Intake at 1-800-233-7503 or 612-672-2736 (v/tty)
612-273-4461 Fax.

Minnesota Chemical Dependency Program
for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals
University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview