Clubhouse for Deaf a Success

They are in recovery and they are deaf. And now they have their own clubhouse where they can find services and make new friends.

Established in November 2012, the Deaf Community Services (DCS) Clubhouse serves deaf adults, including young adults in recovery or at risk of severe mental illness and/or substance abuse.

Membership at the new clubhouse was initially low but now 40 people take advantage of the services offered there.

“At the beginning it was slow but now we are super busy,” said DCS Clubhouse Manager Masa Nakama through a sign language interpreter. “We are really excited. The social aspect is amazing.”

The DCS Clubhouse helps members with schooling, job placement and housing resources.  Members go to the clubhouse to use one of three computers or to use a video phone to make appointments. They prefer the video phones because they feel the teletypewriter (TTY) phones are antiquated.

Members also go there to socialize with other deaf people experiencing similar issues.

Through an interpreter, Tammy White, 45, said she goes to meet new people and to learn more about services available.

“I come to use the video phone to make appointments,” said White, who is in recovery from drug addiction. “I volunteer to talk to others and enjoy helping people.”

Rafael Rodriguez, 57 and in recovery from substance abuse, said he particularly enjoys the cookouts and interacting with other deaf people.

“I really enjoy being social. We are all very happy,” he said.

The deaf clubhouse is one of 14 funded by the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

The clubhouses serve as community meeting places and support settings for mental health and substance addiction clients, their friends and family and community members. They also help members improve their social skills and offer vocational training as part of their recovery. 

“We wanted to reach a wider deaf population than those individuals already benefiting from the behavioral health clinical services,” said Virginia West, regional program coordinator for HHSA’s Behavioral Health Services. “We hope the clubhouse can be an intervention to prevent young adults from developing a serious mental illness, as well as substance addiction.”

For more information about the DCS Clubhouse, email

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact