Our History

**NOTE**  This is not a complete set of our history.  As more information becomes available, we will make changes to this presentation.  Enjoy this presentation!

History of DHHSC








Pre-1984 to Present

Click on the right arrow to begin the slideshow

Tulare County Advocacy and Communication Center (TCACC)

Established in Visalia, CA in 1983 in response to the lack of services being provided to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the area.


Harry Schaffner was named as first Executive Director of TCACC in November 1983.

Establishment of Board of Directors & Interpreting Services

The Board of Directors and Interpreting Services were established soon afterwards.


One month later, TCACC was renamed to Valley Advocacy and Communication Center (VACC) to avoid confusion of the agency’s affliation with Tulare County’s government services/programs.

Official Opening Day

VACC officially opened its doors on November 1, 1984, with two full-time staff providing services funded by the Calfiornia Department of Social Services.

2nd Executive Director & Addition of Fresno's VACC Office

Paul Singleton became VACC’s second Executive Director in 1986.
Fresno Outreach Office was established soon afterwards.

Fresno Outreach office's relocations & Third Executive Director

Early 1987, Nancy Carroll became VACC’s third Executive Director, and she served for 12 years.
During her tenure, VACC moved to Clovis and then back to Fresno on Sixth Street.

Visalia Outreach Office Closed

In July of that same year, VACC’s Visalia Outreach office closed with the Fresno Outreach office becoming the Headquarters.

First Valley Deaf Festival

VACC hosted the first Valley Deaf Festival in 1988, a small local festival for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, which still runs annually to this day.

Organization Expansion

VACC established Central Coast Outreach Office in 1990, with support of local funders, including Harden Foundation and Community Foundation of Monterey County.

Staff Growth

VACC grew to 13 positions to serve the D/HH Community and their families, friends, and community service providers of Central California in February 1999.


In 1999, VACC was renamed to Deaf & Hard of Hearing Service Center  (DHHSC) after a decision by the Board of Directors in order to reflect and better serve Central California.

Augmentation from State of California

Also in 1999, VACC obtained more funding to keep the Central Coast Outreach office open and running.

4th Executive Director

Larry Laskowski became DHHSC’s 4th Executive Director in mid 1999.

Establishment of Merced Outreach Office

During Larry Laskowski’s tenure, Merced Outreach Office was established to serve the community in Merced, Madera, & Mariposa Counties.

Big Shoes To Fill

By the end of 2000, Rosemary became the 5th Executive Director.


During her time, South Valley Outreach office in Visalia, CA was reopened (previously closed in 1987), serving the community of Kings and Tulare Counties.

Expanding the Organization

DHHSC grew to four offices during Rosemary W. Diaz’s tenure with an annual budget of $1.5 million and 28 staff positions.

Martha's Vineyard In Central Valley

In the year 2002, DHHSC, led by Rosemary Diaz, hosted the first ever Martha’s Vineyard In Central Valley, reflecting on the history of Martha’s Vineyard where Deaf and hearing people in the past interacted and worked together.  This is now an annual event.

Establishment of the Headquarters

DHHSC officially opened its headquarters on November 1, 2003 in Fresno and continues operating three outreach offices.

20th Anniversary of VACC/DHHSC

DHHSC celebrated its 20th Anniversary (1984-2004) by hosting a gala for staff, Board of Directors, community members, and the public.

6th Executive Director

Danielle Thompson was named as 6th Executive Director.

Budget Cuts



DHHSC faced a 10% budget cut in 2007, resulting in the closure of three staff positions.  As a result, the remaining staff assumed more responsibilities to maintain services and events to the D/HH Community.

Current Executive Director

Michelle L. Bronson currently serves as DHHSC’s 7th Executive Director, starting in 2009.

Expanding Today's Services

Under Michelle L. Bronson’s direction, DHHSC established new services and programs, including  Reaching Out and Communicating with our Kids (ROCK), Youth Employment Services (YES!), and Employment Development Department (EDD).

30th Anniversary GALA

In 2014, DHHSC celebrated with a 30th Anniversary Gala.  Past and current staff and Board of Directors, along with their guests, came to celebrate this special milestone.

Retirement of Kathy Doerksen (Yoshida)

After more than 25 years of working with DHHSC, Kathy was the first person to officially retire in late 2015.

Growing Once Again

In 2018, Deaf Access Program finally received a much-needed augmentation for the first time in 19 years.  It allowed DHHSC to create new positions, including trilingual staff and the first-ever Public Relations/Community Outreach Specialist.

Partnering With Organizations

In June 2018, DHHSC partnered with NTID/RIT (National Technology Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology), Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), & Fresno State University (FSU) in hosting the first-ever STEM camp in California for Deaf & Hard of Hearing high school students.

Creation of LGBTQIA+ Client Services Specialist

On October 16, 2019, LGBTQIA+ Client Services Specialist was introduced, a first kind in DHHSC history, serving Deaf/Hard of Hearing LGBTQIA+ Community.

30th Annual of VDF

Commemorating the 30th annual of VDF (Valley Deaf Fesitval) in 2019, DHHSC had everything out, from having its theme to having an awesome guest entertainer from The Flipside Show for that year.


It was awesome and memorable
event for us all.

Working Remotely During COVID-19 Pandemic

For the first time in DHHSC History on March 16, 2020, DHHSC staff are working remotely as a pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) for an uncertain amount of time.


Protecting everyone’s health is of utmost importance to us.


Photo Credit: Signing Savvy website

30th Year Milestone


December 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of our staff Paul Barnett, a longtime employee of DHHSC.

1st Anniversary Of Remote Services


March 16th marks one year anniversary of DHHSC working remotely.


DHHSC are still committed serving the community and the public of Central California.

Open By Appointment Only



Almost a year and half later since started remotely (March 2020), DHHSC’s offices finally are open to the public with appointment ONLY with COVID-19 procedures in place while working remotely.

Full Opening - Welcome Back!



April 4, 2022 marks the day DHHSC offices opens its doors to the public either by appointment or by without appointment.  Not only that, but future events and so on will be held at our four offices and out on the field while maintaining it through online.

The Return of Valley Deaf Festival



November 19, 2022 marks the day the annual VDF event returned since 2019 due to COVID-19 pandemic – a perfect fit for our theme, “There’s No Place Like DHHSC”.  It was great to see many who came to make it successful.

Looking to the Future

Serving our community since 1984. We serve an average of 38,000 people each year.


We are committed to grow as an agency to better serve the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community of Central California.
Thank you for being a part of DHHSC.