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June 9, 2004


From: WBIR-TV, TN - Jun 9, 2004

Doug Woods has been married to his wife Ethel for 34 years. But they've never heard each other say I love you.

Both are deaf. They speak with their hands.

The need to communicate without sound is why they support a new retirement community for the deaf.

"It's important to communicate," Woods says. "So it would be fun. We'd be able to talk with each other and socialize, have a full-time nurse, be able to interpret or sign, things that are important for the deaf."

The Knoxville Center for the deaf wants to turn a South Knoxville site into Tennessee's first home for deaf senior citizens.

The group plans to break ground in 18 months and open in 2007. They hope to add a nursing home and assisted living facility in the future.

Knoxville could become the state's most popular spot for deaf senior citizens. A similar home in Georgia attracted residents from 6 states and now has a waiting list.

Since the Knoxville is home to the State School for the Deaf, the developer says it is already key to deaf culture.

"You've got so many deaf that have come to school here and spent the best years of their life here," Georgia developer Ben Jackson explains. "They've gone out and worked in other parts of the state, often times now they're retired, their spouse is deceased and they're very lonely. They want to come back to be with their peer group"

Here they could find safe, affordable housing with adaptive equipment and staff they can communicate with.

The $3.5 million development is a place the Woods say they'd consider to grow old together.

"I hate to see deaf over here, deaf over here, we're all separate," Woods says. "And you can get very lonely, I think it's great to see the deaf come together in one place."

6/9/2004 12:41:23 AM Reporter: Kay Watson

Copyright ©2004 WBIR-TV Knoxville