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August 21, 2005

Delray non-profit clinic caters to hearing-impaired and deaf

From: Boca Raton News, USA - Aug 21, 2005

by By Corey Siggins

Audiologist Gary Friedman wants hearing-impaired and deaf individuals living in southern Palm Beach County to know that help is currently available to them.

Friedman is part of the Deaf Service Center, 100 E. Linton Blvd. in Delray Beach, a non-profit clinic that specializes in assisting local residents suffering with hearing loss or impairment.

Deaf Service opened last year as an offshoot of the West Palm Beach HEARING WELLness Center, using staff members from that location as well as volunteers. The center is the first non-profit hearing health resource of its type in the southern portion of Palm Beach.

Originally a part-time operation, the addition of Friedman to the audiology department in January has enabled Deaf Service to have full-time hours Monday through Friday for its patients – by appointment only.

Recent statistics from Deaf Service indicate that approximately 150,000 Palm Beach residents suffer from hearing loss. An estimated 12,000 residents are completely deaf.

"The deaf and hearing-impaired community is a completely different culture of people. Unfortunately, they have been largely underserved over the years," Friedman said. "We want these people to benefit from us through the latest state-of-the-art equipment and education. We want to do the things that are in their best interest."

As an audiologist at Deaf Service, Friedman conducts personalized hearing tests and community hearing health screenings. He also provides conventional and advanced digital hearing aids to suit patients' needs.

One of the more popular services to be found at Deaf Service is the free distribution of technologically advanced telephone systems designed for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals.

"It truly is amazing what's out there for our patients in terms of technology," Friedman said. "Any device that can make their lives a lot easier, we try to offer."

Deaf Service staff members are also present to counsel individuals who are still coming to terms with their disability or need assistance in dealing with personal matters.

Client specialist Beth Bystrycki – who is hearing-impaired herself – explains that some patients often have difficulty interacting with such professionals as doctors and lawyers. "For instance, a doctor could write a prescription that a hearing-impaired or deaf individual may not be able to read. It then may be hard for that person to communicate the problem to the doctor," Bystrycki said. "I can be there to help out by interpreting in sign language what the doctor is saying."

The clinic has garnered much acclaim since going to full-time status, with as many as 200 patients being seen per week. Many of the appointments are through referrals from other patients.

Boca Raton resident Harriet Panzer, 85, had been a regular patient and volunteer at HEARING WELLness Center before Deaf Service opened. She applauds the services that are now available to residents in her area.

"Both clinics have really made a big impact in my life by giving me hope," Panzer said. "I really feel like there are people looking out for me."

Deaf Service Center is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by appointment only. For more information, call 561-278-6444, TTY 278-1444 or visit

Contact Corey Siggins at 561-893-6441 or at

Copyright 2004 - Boca Raton News