What does IGNITE do?

We provide:
  • Advocacy Services
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Medical and Hospital Advocacy
  • Legal Advocacy
  • Accompaniment: Go with you to the hospital, court, making police contacts, finding shelter
  • Provide basic items, including shampoo, soap, and other needs
Information & Referrals
Counseling & Education Support
  • Education and Empowerment Sessions
  • Individual Counseling Sessions
  • Individual Art Therapy Sessions
  • Survivors Art Circles: Healing Through Art
Community Education & Engagement Programs
  • Community Education
  • Community Art Workshops and Art Exhibits
  • Community Engagement
  • Trainings
Deaf-centered Domestic Violence (DV) and Sexual Assault (SA):
  • Domestic Violence (DV)
  • Sexual Assault (SA)
  • Dating Violence
  • Stalking
  • Red Flags in Abusive Relationships
  • Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships, Friendships, and Boundaries
  • Deaf Community Accountability and Coordinated Community Responses – How to recognize and respond to DV/SA, support Survivors, and hold Abusers accountable
  • Systems Issues and Advocacy
  • Safety-Planning
Deaf People, Deaf Culture, Deaf Community:
  • Deaf People and Deaf Culture
  • Accessibility for Deaf Survivors
  • Securing and Working with Sign Language Interpreters and Deaf Interpreters
    Legal, Medical, and Crisis Situations
  • VideoPhone situations
  • Consultation/Training for Hearing Service Providers/Professionals
  • Deaf Community Accountability
  • Outreach to the Deaf Community
  • Strategies for Maintaining Confidentiality in the Deaf Community (Managing Small Community Issues)
  • Diversity in the Deaf Community
  • Collaboration and Co-Advocacy between Deaf and Hearing Organizations

Mission & Vision

Our mission is to end domestic and sexual violence in the Deaf community through advocacy, education, and services.

Our vision is to inspire and transform communities to be accountable by creating a culture free of violence.


IGNITE’s main goal is to support the needs of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing survivors of domestic violence and sexual violence. We also support other members of the Deaf community including Children of Deaf Adults (CODAs) and ASL interpreters.

We aim to:

  • Ensure that services are available to victims/survivors
  • Ensure full access to communication
  • Empower victims/survivors in attaining support and assistance through other agencies
    Anonymity and confidentiality are strictly honored.

Board of Directors

Kelly Metz Davis

Finance Director

Jeanne Behm

Erin Finton
Nicole Lupinetti
Beth Noworatzky

Executive Director
Erin Esposito


On March 1998, five Deaf women from Rochester, New York, participated in a week-long intensive training program that was provided by Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS), the first internationally known Deaf-run domestic violence and sexual assault agency, in Seattle, Washington. These women were: Beth Anne Metlay, Sharon C. Staehle, S. Martina Moore-Reid, Sharon Haynes, and Vicki T. Hurwitz.

From 1998 to 2009, in Rochester, Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Victims, ASADV, was purely made up of volunteers. Paid staff was finally made possible in January 2010. ASADV received two federal grants in the fall of 2009. One was from the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), under the Cultural & Linguistic Grant program. This was a joint application with ADWAS. The other grant was from the Americans Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), part of the stimulus package, and was awarded to ASADV by the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).

In 2016, ASADV changed its name to IGNITE to empower the community and to continue its mission and vision in a way that is setting new

ASADV Executive Directors:
Vicki Hurwitz (1998 — 2001)
Sharon Staehle (2001 — 2003)
Vicki Hurwitz (2003 — 2006)
Mary Mowl (2006 — 2008)
Sharon Haynes (2008 — 2009)
Erin Esposito (2010 — Present)