Summer Get-Together 2017

Join us for a play day!

Whether it’s your first time coming to an event or you never miss a chance to socialize and catch up.

Tuesday, August 22nd 2017 11:00am – 2:00 pm Grimston Park 19th Street at 7th Avenue New Westminster (close to 22nd Street Skytrain Station)

Look for the orange & blue balloons!
ASL Interpreter Available

This park has a beautiful playground and wading pool. Bring a picnic lunch, swimwear, towels and blanket.

RSVP is not required, but please watch our Facebook page for notice of cancellation if it’s raining. Visit our Facebook Page & Website: https://www.facebook.com/handsandvoicesBC Contact: info@bchandsandvoices.com

Summer Get Together Flyer

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The Big Move- Traditional Chinese

By Anja Rosenke

The Big Move- Traditional Chinese

Link to English version

This translation was made possible with a generous donation of the Gwyn Morgan & Patricia Trottier Foundation.

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The Big Move- Simplified Chinese

By Anja Rosenke

The Big Move- Simplified Chinese

Link to English version

This translation was made possible with a generous donation of the Gwyn Morgan & Patricia Trottier Foundation.

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The Big Move- Punjabi

By Anja Rosenke

The Big Move- Punjabi Translation

Link to English version

This translation was made possible with a generous donation of the Gwyn Morgan & Patricia Trottier Foundation.

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Parent Coffee Night- Microtia/ Atresia Topic

Please join us for a special coffee night on Monday May 29th, 2017
Special Topic: Microtia/ Atresia
(Attend in person or Call-in Via Teleconference or online video conference if you live outside the Metro Vancouver area)

parent coffee

We are pleased to have two of our BC Hands & Voices members, Jesse Kazemir and Catherine Kalchbrenner. Jesse is an SFU student with bilateral microtia/ atresia and Catherine is the parent of a 6 year old with right-sided microtia/ atresia. This is a safe space to ask your questions and learn more to support your child.

 

Please join us in person for Lower Mainland parents. If you’re interested in the phone-in or webcam/ online option, please RSVP by May 25th so that we can provide you with the calling information.

WHEN: 7:30 – 9:00pm

WHERE: Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre, 3575 Kaslo St. Vancouver

CONTACT: ckalchbrenner (at) cw.bc.ca to RSVP or with any questions.

2017MicrotiaAtresiaCoffeeNight4.30

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The Story of a Chapter: 10 years of BC Hands & Voices

By Teresa Kazemir

Ten years ago, in June of 2007, I attended my very first Hands & Voices Leadership conference outside of Denver, Colorado. I will never forget the warm, welcoming, supportive and energizing feeling that radiated from that group of parents and professionals. It was like a family and I immediately felt that I belonged, regardless of our son’s hearing levels, what form of communication we used or what country we came from. Straight away, I thought that this was something we needed in British Columbia, especially for families of young babies that were just starting to be identified by universal newborn hearing screening through the BC Early Hearing Program.

“Hands & Voices … was like a family and I felt that I belonged, regardless of our son’s hearing levels, what form of communication we used or what country we came from.”

To back up a little…in 2006, as the BC Early Hearing Program was forming, a Parent Advisory Group (PAG) was established to help guide the process. Members of this volunteer group included Cathy Luther, Tammy Busch, Amy Ho, Jen Kipling, Shelley Mallinson and myself. Initially, the PAG was asked to provide input and feedback related to various aspects of the Early Hearing Program. We provided a parent perspective, while the professionals considered processes and procedures, and we also helped to develop materials and resources such as the website, brochures, and the family path (a brochure outlining the steps a family takes following hearing screening through to early intervention).

In 2007, the BC Early Hearing Program was ready to consider implementing a parent to parent support component of the program. Cathy Luther and I were sent to the Hands & Voices Leadership conference to explore whether Hands & Voices might be a good model for parent to parent support in BC. After many hours of discussion and debate, we came back with the recommendation that BC set up a Guide By Your Side program – and because Guide By Your Side is a Hands & Voices program, this also meant setting up a BC chapter of Hands & Voices.

Teresa Kazemir and Cathy Luther at the Leadership Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado, 2008

The next several months was a flurry of activity – BC Hands & Voices was established as a non-profit society and invitations were sent out to various individuals to become the founding directors of the board. A mission statement and by-laws were created. An application was made to Hands & Voices Headquarters, which involved a great amount of correspondence as we were the first chapter established outside of the USA.

Mission Statement: BC Hands & Voices is a parent-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  We are a parent/professional collaborative group that is unbiased towards communication modes and methods, believing that families will make the best choices for their children if they have access to good information and support.

Some of the original BC Hands & Voices board, 2009 (Jen Kipling, Monique Preer, Cathy Luther, Teresa Kazemir, Amy Ho, Mary Stewart)

Simultaneously, planning was underway to set up Guide By Your Side. This Hands & Voices program was to be overseen by the BC chapter, at the same time being fully funded by and part of the BC Early Hearing program. I was hired as the Guide By Your Side Parent Coordinator, and the first team of Parent Guides were selected (Amy Ho, Shelley Mallinson, Bobbi Best, Gillian Doan, Terri Dauvin). This was all accomplished by early March 2008, in time for our initial training with Leeanne Seaver and Janet DesGeorges, two of the founding members of Hands & Voices.

First group of Parent Guides, 2008: Back row from left: Terri Dauvin, Bobbi Best, Teresa Kazemir. Front row from left: Gillian Doan, Shelley Mallinson, Amy Ho

“There was a specific need for unbiased parent-to-parent support very early after identification”

Early on there was some confusion about who Hands & Voices was and why we needed a chapter here in BC. There were two other parent organizations already in existence – Family Network for Deaf Children (FNDC) and Canadian Hard of Hearing Association of BC Parents’ Branch (CHHA-BC Parents’ Branch). Through many meetings and discussions, we all came to agree that while FNDC and CHHA-BC Parents’ Branch both provided much-needed supports for families, they were focused on school–aged children. With the implementation of the BC Early Hearing Program and newborn hearing screening, it became clear there was a specific need for unbiased parent-to-parent support very early after identification. Thus BC Hands & Voices, unlike other chapters of Hands & Voices, has always focused on the specific age group from birth to 5 years, supporting families within the entire spectrum of communication choices and hearing levels.

“BC Hands & Voices … (is) focused on the specific age group from birth to 5 years, supporting families within the entire spectrum of communication choices and hearing levels.”

Over the past ten years, many of our founding members have transitioned off the board, and some Parent Guides have moved on to other jobs, but there has never been a lack of people ready and willing to embrace our philosophy and join us in our work. As a parent driven organization, our board is mostly parents of deaf and hard-of hearing children, but professionals working in this area complete our diverse team. I have felt privileged to sit at the table with so many parents and professionals from diverse backgrounds with a wealth of experience and expertise. We continually learn from one another – by stretching ourselves and listening to each other’s stories, we become better advocates for our children and better supports for other families.

So now, after 10 years on this journey, it’s time for me to step back a little. While I do enjoy ‘driving the bus’, it feels good to see other very capable parent leaders step up to take on those roles. I am not leaving BC Hands & Voices altogether, but I am happy to see that it has become a strong organization that is no longer dependent on one or two specific individuals to keep it alive. My feelings are similar to when our oldest child moved out ‘permanently’ – I’m proud, relieved and optimistic, yet I know I will have to hold back a little and refrain from interfering or taking over. Parenting an adult is quite different from parenting a child. So I will strive to be available when needed, but also to respect that there are different ways of doing things. I look forward to this next phase with BC Hands & Voices, and I am happy that I am able to continue working with such a wonderful group of people!

 

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Fun Family Picnic 2017

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing Program, CHHA BC Parents’ Branch, Family & Community Services, Family Network for Deaf Children – Deaf Youth Today (DYT)

WHAT: An event for deaf/hard of hearing children, their siblings and parents and children with their Deaf/hard of hearing parents (CODA). Join us for a fun day! We will provide:
• Hot dog lunch
• Entertainment and games for the kids
• An opportunity to mix and mingle with other families and with youth/young adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Please bring with you:
• a salad, fruit or vegetable plate or dessert to share (note: no freezer/fridge/oven)
• lawn chairs or blanket to sit on
Rain or Shine!  Free admission! Donations gratefully accepted at the event.

WHEN: Saturday June 17th, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

WHERE: Victory Hill/ Provincial Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services 4334 Victory St., Burnaby BC

CONTACT/ RSVP: Registration is required so we know how many people to expect. 
Please register online by June 13th at  http://www.fndc.ca/registration/familypicnic/
Special Note– Families of children with Atresia and Microtia – let’s meet up at the picnic!
If you are interested in meeting up with other families of children with Atresia and Microtia, please contact Catherine Kalchbrenner: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca who will collect names, and make a point of introducing families to one another during the picnic.

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If I Can Do It, You Can Do It: Hornby Island Family Deaf Camp

By Andrew Banks

Family camping – an event that is enjoyable, but definitely comes with its challenges. Family Deaf Camp, well, this was going to be interesting. These were the thoughts that went through my mind when my wife, Sandra, suggested that we go to Family Deaf Camp on Hornby Island.

My wife and I were great car campers before kids. When our two children came into our lives, all attempts by us to go camping were put on hold. We are the proud parents of an older hearing child, aged 5, and a younger child, aged 2, who was born deaf and had bilateral cochlear implant surgery at the age of one. The challenges of trying to camp with a very young family seemed beyond our capacity. Add in my lack of comfort with communicating in sign language, and the thought of attending a Deaf family camp was daunting.

After internally debating my wife’s suggestion, I agreed that yes, now was the time for a family camping trip, and the idea of camping on Hornby Island was even better. We know Hornby Island well as my wife’s family has lived there for many years. The decision was made to go.

July 2016, we arrived at Family Deaf Camp, with our children, for our first camping trip as a family. My wife made the executive decision that our eldest child and I would go to the camp to find a “good” site, while she and our youngest visited with her family. When I came to the camp entrance, which is located at the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre, I started to feel some trepidation. A good campsite – that is a lot of responsibility, especially when you don’t know the area. We pulled into the campground and were immediately greeted by Deaf Youth Today staff. Now my sign language skills are a work in progress and I think I must have looked like a stunned animal. However, their enthusiasm and helpfulness quickly overcame any language differences. With their help, we found a good spot – not too near or far from the action, and also handy for that all-important outhouse! After we staked our site and built our encampment (the best two room tent on the island!), I went to get my wife to show her my campsite selection expertise.

Our first day was enjoyable as we explored the campground and settled in. Before long, families that we knew from the community also turned up and the daunting task of camping with a young family became a relic of past thoughts. Our kids played with the other children all afternoon and, to our pleasant surprise, were quite tired come evening time and easily fell asleep in the tent. My wife and I wondered why we were so hesitant about going family camping in the first place.

 We had a delightful time over the next couple of days participating in some of the organized events for families, such as rock climbing, arts and crafts, and paddle boarding, just to name a few. The camp provided coffee every morning, two evening meals in the lodge, and breakfast for us on the last day. Not having to cook every meal took the pressure off and allowed us more opportunities to connect with other campers. There was also lots of time for us to relax between the scheduled events. 

Rock Climbing Fun



The staff was so easy-going and accommodating that communicating, either with or without sign language, became a non-issue. There was also a team of interpreters on hand to ensure access for everyone. Our children were having a blast, which allowed us, as parents, to relax and enjoy the whole experience.

 The highlight for me was the somewhat improvised performance, with optional audience participation, held each evening at the main campfire stage. The staff worked hard to entertain us and include the children. It was really enjoyable. After the show every night, the younger children went to bed exhausted. Once they were asleep, parents were able to socialize.

 I will always remember having a great campfire conversation with a couple of Deaf parents, with the help of an interpreter. The interpreter was so good that I quickly forgot I was relying on her. I found it quite funny that we had to hold the conversation when someone new joined in until the lights could be repositioned to ensure everyone could see people’s hands signing.

 The three days of camp quickly went by and, as a family, we were all somewhat saddened that Family Deaf Camp for 2016 was over- it was that enjoyable. Both of our children had fun, and were communicating with no inhibitions. My wife and I had time to relax, socialize, and to share common experiences with other families.

 Our family is already looking forward to returning to Hornby Island for Family Deaf Camp this summer. We hope to see your family there too. You can find me by looking for the dad who seems somewhat puzzled in sign language conversations but has a big smile on his face.

Editor’s Note:

Family Deaf Camp is hosted and organized by Gord and Allison Campbell. Gord is the director of the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre. Deaf Youth Today (DYT), a summer program of Family Network for Deaf Children (FNDC), partners with Tribune Bay to make family camp a deaf friendly, language rich experience. Family Deaf Camp is for parents with deaf/hard of hearing children and Deaf/hard of hearing parents with their children, and is designed for families that use sign language for all or part of their communication, or are open to learning. For more information and to register go to http://www.fndc.ca/familydeafcamp

 

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Navigating New Cultures with My DHH Child

By: Anonymous

My family immigrated to Canada when I was two years old, back in the late 70s. That was almost 40 years ago! This past holiday season we decided to take the whole family back to my home country. We still have very strong ties there, most of my relatives still live there and we are in constant contact. I was thrilled at the thought of going back (it had been over a decade since I was last there) and we spent many hours planning and packing for our month long trip.

Source: https://www.brisbanekids.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/shutterstock_138608582-703×470.jpg

We did all of the normal preparations: gifts for the family, enough seasonally appropriate clothing, and mapping out where we wanted to spend our days and weekends. There was a little anxiety at the thought of the long haul flights with my two young children but, if I’m honest, what I was most anxious about was how to navigate my daughter’s hearing loss in a completely different culture and country. Added to that was the concern that my two children don’t speak my native language. They understand it perfectly but always reply in English.

The last time I had been back, hearing loss and equipment were far from my radar. I had no idea how many things that I take for granted here would play out. I know about the technology available here, what people’s typical reactions are and I am comfortable navigating social situations when I need to explain any accommodations my child might need. But all of these things were a complete mystery to me in relation to my home country.

All my family are aware of my daughter’s hearing loss and I am always open and forthcoming with them about her hearing levels and equipment. But somehow it’s not quite so real when you’re talking over FaceTime is it? How would they react when we were there? Would they remember that if she’s not wearing her hearing aid she may not hear them? Would they try and make eye contact? Would her cousins be gentle when the inevitable rough housing happened? What if there were questions from other kids? A million things went through my head before we finally got on that plane.

We arrived at 1am exhausted and, after a good long sleep and breakfast, I gathered the cousins and my daughter. I showed them her hearing aid. I let my daughter explain in her own words (in English) why she needs it and how she puts it on. I translated everything for her (and I filled in some blanks). We asked them if they had any questions. “Can she still hear us?” I let her answer in her own words. The more forthcoming I was, the more comfortable it made everyone. It went… exactly as it would have at home, beautifully. No big deal. Then off they went to navigate the fun of play in two languages. They quickly and easily learned to communicate with each other in both languages. And if the questions came from other kids, my daughter’s cousins now had the language/ knowledge to explain to the others. Wonderful!

Even if you have a younger child, who may not yet have the language or means to speak for themselves,  a mini intro to your child’s hearing loss/ hearing device/ accommodation needs/ communication methods in your words to others would be equally as beneficial. I always find it to be a great learning opportunity for all.

The rest of our holiday went much the same. It was really no big deal. All these moments were the same as they are here, wonderful opportunities to educate others and learn from them as well. I didn’t see any other children with hearing aids; apparently health care doesn’t cover them for children and most people don’t have the means to purchase them. I learned a lot about what hearing loss for kids looks like there, so it was an opportunity for me to educate myself too!

Here are some other tips I can offer:

  • Even if your child doesn’t speak the language, teach them some basic words to communicate with others in the target language. (I had to do this while we were on our trip, but I wish I’d done it before) Examples include, Hearing Aid, Cochlear Implant, Hearing Loss, “sorry, I can’t hear you”, “Can you please say it again?”
  • Try to educate yourself about what services/ schools or communication options are available in that country! I also wish I’d done more research on this. It would have made for even richer conversations and exchanges. “This is what it’s like in Canada, I’ve read there’s XYZ here, that’s the same/ different!”
  • Questions are great opportunities to model the language for your kids, let them hear you. This applies no matter where you are, home or away!

A lot of my anxiety quickly dissipated and we all had a great time. I had forgotten a fundamental kid truth: no matter the culture or country, kids are kids and just want to play!

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Our Family’s Experience of the Bilingual-Bicultural Educational Approach

By Joy Santos

The Bilingual-Bicultural educational approach for Deaf children is one where the child uses American Sign Language (ASL) as their first language, and English as their second. This is also known as the Bi-Bi approach, and it is often mentioned around the Deaf Community. While different approaches work for different children, this has been our family’s preferred approach for my daughter, Teanna, in both her home and school life. I would like to take this opportunity to share some of the reasons why I have found it to be of benefit to us.

Teanna was born deaf, and received a cochlear implant at age two. She is now in Grade 4 at the Provincial School for the Deaf, where she receives instruction primarily in ASL. Advantages of the Bi-Bi approach with regards to Deaf education are that children receive instruction in a language that is highly accessible to them, they are immersed in their culture, and are surrounded by native users of ASL who can also serve as positive role models. Teanna participates in classes such as Deaf Culture studies, and I feel that this helps her learn and understand more about her identity as a Deaf person. This learning environment also encourages students to promote self-advocacy, and learn about prominent moments in Deaf History. I find this particular approach to her learning to be very empowering.

 

The curriculum has been superb with accommodating each student’s individual needs, and I feel that personal goals unique to each family can be discussed in depth during one-on-one Individual Education Plan* meetings during the school year. During these sessions, teachers and families collaborate with common educational objectives, and it is where I typically express my desire for Teanna to obtain fluency in both spoken and written English.

Infant and toddler’s brains are primed to learn and absorb languages, whether it is in visual or spoken form. As an Early Childhood Educator, I have learned about, and witnessed firsthand, a multitude of advantages to raising a bilingual child. These can include:

  • Cognitive Benefits
    • Bilingual brains seem to be able to multitask more efficiently.
    • The skill of reading seems to be acquired easier by bilingual children.
    • The concept of abstract thinking and problem solving seem to be understood more clearly by bilingual children.
  • Cultural Benefits
    • Bicultural children have an awareness that various cultures and languages exist. This could potentially encourage socialization with peers who may or may not speak their language, and also promote tolerance.
    • Being aware of other languages and cultures, and feeling comfortable in different environments is an asset in our increasingly globalized world.

Generally speaking, our choice to incorporate the use of both ASL and spoken/written English into our daily lives certainly reaps multiple benefits, as both have been useful in various settings.

With ASL, it makes communicating from a distance, in noisy environments, or through physical barriers, such as a window, so much easier. I am also rest-assured that Teanna and I will be able to communicate even if her Cochlear Implant gets misplaced, runs out of batteries, or breaks down – or if it simply needs to be left at home when we go to the lake or plan on riding roller coasters at a theme park.

With English, she is able to confidently communicate with people who are not fluent in ASL, and can even teach ASL to them! A fun fact about Teanna is that she aspires to someday become a singer and songwriter. Her knowledge of English allows her to write songs, and it is very endearing for me to see her independence in taking action to pursue a dream of hers.

Most importantly, the Bi-Bi approach provides her with the freedom to choose which works best for her in any given moment. There are days where she has chosen not to use her cochlear implant, and tells me “Mom, I want a quiet day today, please sign if you want to talk to me.” There have also been days where she will say “Mom, let’s chat so I can practice English,” and she will take the initiative to ask me about English grammar and pronunciation of some words. Her ability to code-switch has always amazed me!

One of the most crucial points that I have learned thus far in my role as a parent of a Deaf child, is the importance of providing our children with options for themselves. With regards to language, I remember constantly hearing “facts” or “statistics” that viewed the Bi-Bi approach as detrimental to successful language development, and it was therefore discouraged. On the contrary, though, there has also been a lot of research done to prove that children’s brains are like sponges, and they will take in and utilize what is made available to them.

While there is no one “right way” to teach all deaf and hard of hearing children, I see proof of the strengths of the Bi-Bi approach in my daughter. This extends beyond her proficiency in both ASL and English, to expanding her interest to learn about the world around her. She is keen to learn about different cultures, and wants to travel and learn more languages (both oral and sign) from other countries. Her disposition to take the world by storm is inspiring!
* When a deaf/hard of hearing child transitions to school, the plan developed and followed through by their team progresses from an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) to an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

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