Circa 1962

In the early 1960’s, a group of deaf leaders began DCARA as an all-volunteer agency. Working with other members of the California Association of the Deaf, local churches, and the deaf community, this dedicated group created an agency that would provide interpreting referrals, children’s reading assistance, foster parent programs and social activities for deaf seniors. It was incorporated in 1962 as a non-profit agency, under the name of East Bay Counseling and Referral Agency, Inc. (EBCRAD). From meetings in basements, kitchens, and garages of deaf people, the agency grew to be the multi-office agency it is today.

Black and white group image of past DCARA staff.
Black and white image of young Debby Buchan from 1980.

Mission Statement

Promote and advocate for the rights of full access to American Sign Language and English, education, employment, and cultural identity of, by, for, and with Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and DeafBlind people.

Our Vision

Global recognition, pride, respect for ASL, equality, and justice exist for all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened, and Deafblind people.

Our Values

We recognize, respect, and cherish the tapestry of cultures that make up the community it serves. We respect diversity, including but not limited to ethnicity, religious faith, lifestyle, Deaf identity, hearing loss identity, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and cultural diversity. We respect intersectionality, such as how gender, race, ability, sexual orientation, and other aspects of identity on multiple and often simultaneous levels interact. We acknowledge, respect, support, and value the fluidity of an individual’s varied identities.

We integrate Deaf culture in the workplace; this includes the preservation, education, and celebration of Deaf people’s international sign languages, art, literary traditions, history, values, shared experiences, and our ways of being Deaf.

ASL is the language and human right of all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafened, and DeafBlind people; therefore all Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafened, and DeafBlind individuals have the right to access to ASL.

All individuals both outside and in the agency have the right to 100% communication access. For effective expressive and receptive communication for every individual, we advocate for all forms of reasonable accommodations such as telecommunication, interpreters, captioning, real time captioning, and/or assistive technology.

The health of a Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Deafened, and DeafBlind individual as a DCARA employee, board member, volunteer, or community member leads to better community relationships and services.

Individual: Individuals are accountable for their actions.

Agency-wide: We are accountable for upholding our mission, values, and belief systems; we have a responsibility to “walk the talk.”

Community: The community collaborates with us to affirm and validate our values, practices, and programs.

Each of us self-identifies in different ways; thus, we model mutual courtesy and respect of each of our identities. We strive to learn from each other and support each other’s learning processes when we make mistakes.

We strive to do the right thing and do it with honesty. We believe in approaching our business and daily operations with integrity.

Long-term financial planning is a vital discipline for creating and maintaining financial sustainability for DCARA, which requires creating a vision and engaging in proactive thinking and actions. We engage in financial risk management practices. We run our organization like a business.

We are committed to full consumer satisfaction.

DCARA Board Members

We are always looking for GREAT board members to join our dynamic team. If you are interested, please contact our board president.

Service Area

DCARA provides service to the 14 following counties in California:

  • Alameda

  • Contra Costa

  • Del Norte

  • Humboldt

  • Lake

  • Marin

  • Mendocino

  • Napa

  • San Francisco

  • San Mateo

  • Santa Clara

  • Santa Cruz

  • Solano

  • Sonoma

If your county is not listed here, please visit here to see which organization can serve you. 

History of DCARA


An all-volunteer group of deaf leaders founded East Bay Counseling and Referral Agency for the Deaf (EBCRAD). The first Board members were George Attletweed, Leo Jacobs, Ralph Jordan, Emil Ladner, Ralph Neesam and Hal Ramger. Hal Norton and Dean Swaim joined them in 1965.

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1964 - 501(C)(3) STATUS GRANTED

East Bay Counseling and Referral Agency, Inc. is granted 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit agency by the Internal Revenue Service. The first office is opened in Berkeley.

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The DCARA Bookstore is established, selling literature related to sign language and deafness.

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1976 - NEW NAME

EBCRAD changed its name to Deaf Counseling, Advocacy & Referral Agency (DCARA) so that the most important word in the name, “deaf,” would be listed alphabetically in the telephone directory.

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DCARA moves to Oakland.

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DCARA establishes administrative headquarters in San Leandro.

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The Bookstore is renamed Deaf Store and begins selling videotapes, deaf-related novelties, and signaling and assistive devices, in addition to books.

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Deaf House, a transitional housing program for homeless deaf people, is established in Hayward.

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DCARA, with financial assistance from the East Bay Club for the Deaf, purchases the Deaf Community Center property. An old garage is converted into a multi-purpose room, and the Deaf Store moves into the house.

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Headquarters moves to a former bank office building in San Leandro, CA.

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DCARA expands services to California’s North Coast community with offices in Eureka and Ukiah.

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DCARA celebrates its 40th Anniversary at the Argent Hotel with guests Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur.

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Deaf Community Center celebrates its 20th anniversary.

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DCARA purchases a former Mozzeria food trolley to start a new food business, Tilden Cafe. Serving grilled sandwiches using homemade bread loaves baked from the wood oven. 100% of the proceeds will circle back towards DCARA programs.

Visit Tilden Cafe

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2018 - NEW LOGO

After 30+ years, DCARA finally changes its logo. The logo was commisioned by a deaf graphic artist, Angel Omar Guzman.

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