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
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: who will collect names, and make a point of introducing families to one another during the picnic.

Posted in Events, Families to Families | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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


Posted in Articles, Events, Families to Families | Tagged , , | Comments Off on If I Can Do It, You Can Do It: Hornby Island Family Deaf Camp

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.


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!

Posted in Articles, Families to Families | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Navigating New Cultures with My DHH Child

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).

Posted in Articles, Families to Families | Comments Off on Our Family’s Experience of the Bilingual-Bicultural Educational Approach

2017 AGM & Parent Evening

BCHVhandLogoBC Hands & Voices Parent Evening & AGM

Monday, March 6, 2017
7:00 – 9:00 pm
Free to attend
Deaf, Hard of Hearing & Deaf-Blind Well Being Program
#300-4211 Kingsway, Burnaby

(Attend in person or call-in via Teleconference Line if you live in an Outreach area)


“Traveling with your Deaf/Hard of Hearing Child”
Thinking ahead to your spring & summer travel/camping plans? Join some experienced H&V parents and some of our local Deaf/ Hard of Hearing Guides and Board Members in a casual discussion on tips and practical information for making your adventures memorable, enjoyable and even educational for the whole family!


BC Hands & Voices Annual General Meeting 7:00-7:30pm

We’ll begin with a short AGM, where we will share what BC Hands & Voices has accomplished over the past year! This is also a great opportunity to update your membership ($20 per family).

Parking and Location Information
 Parking is available in the building parking lot (accessible off Kingsway) and is $2.25/hr. Street/metered parking can be found on Kingsway, on Barker ave (between WBP building and Shell gas station) or on Grange street behind WBP building. Other side streets have free parking. Someone will be waiting in the lobby of the building to open the door and provide access to the elevator to go up to the 3rd floor. If you’re late, please call 604-612-9193 

ASL interpreters will be provided.
For more information or if you live in an Outreach area and need the teleconference information please email

2017 AGM


Posted in Administration, Events, Families to Families | Comments Off on 2017 AGM & Parent Evening

What’s In Your Toolbox?



By Anja Rosenke

When I was growing up, my dad napped every evening after work. Some dads maybe poured themselves a drink, some perhaps watched the evening news, but my dad rested. Every night, same time, same spot. Family jokes still abound about the permanent depression in the cushions in ‘his’ spot on the couch. Back then, our hopes would sink each evening as he settled in on the couch, because that meant we wouldn’t be allowed to watch the lineup of sassy sitcoms that filled the evening TV schedule. We looked forward to seeing what funny antics Jack Tripper and Mr Roper would get up to, but my dad hated the canned laugh-tracks on those glitzy shows. In those days, there was only one TV in the house, and it was positioned very inconveniently directly across from said couch. Enough said.

On some level we were aware that our dad napped because of his strenuous, even exhausting work. He went to work each day with hammers, levels, and planes in his tool belt, but I would argue that those evening naps were an even more important tool for him. He recognized that his job was stressful and taking time in the evenings to decompress helped him deal with it each day. Only as an adult have I have come to understand the value of what he did for himself back then.

Most of us are aware that we need to have a few tools in our parenting toolbox to help us do the sometimes challenging job of raising successful, happy, well-adjusted, and amazing kids. Wait, who am I kidding – sometimes we need tools just to get us through one day! Well, as parents of deaf and hard of hearing kids, I think we need those tools at the ready even more so. Inevitably, there are points along the journey of raising our successful, happy, well-adjusted, amazing deaf and hard of hearing children that can be especially stressful or challenging. Many parents are first faced with this when their child’s hearing loss is identified. But challenging and emotional times can arise from all sorts of situations: navigating the transition into preschool or elementary school, guiding a child through a social falling out with friends, adjusting to a change in teacher or therapist, or facing a further drop in hearing levels. It’s times like these when we all need some solid tools to help us cope, and to see ourselves, our children, and our families through.

Community is one of the most important tools in my toolbox. Sharing your experiences, your fears and concerns, your joys and successes with someone who has ‘walked a mile in your shoes’ can be powerful, validating and uplifting. A German proverb that I heard often growing up translates as “a shared burden is half the burden”. I truly believe this. Come to think of it, this tool comes straight out of my mom’s toolbox. She came to Canada as a newlywed speaking little English, having left behind her family and friends to build a new life here with her husband. Growing up, we would often find her sitting at the kitchen table with a friend, heads together, coffee mugs in hand. She sought out community. Similarly, I find that turning to another parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child means turning to someone who understands. Over the past eight years of my journey as the parent of a deaf/hard of hearing child, I have found that no matter where you live in the world, what language you use to communicate, or what your family circumstances – you share common ground.

Another important tool for me is exercise. The problem is that even though I know it works, I don’t always make time for it. This one didn’t come from either of my parents, but was one that I discovered for myself as an adult. Exercise simply makes me feel good. Call it an endorphin rush, a runner’s high or an outlet for frustration, there is a physiological response to getting your heart rate up and your blood pumping. Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone stop reading and give me fifty pushups, but making time for a bit of movement, some fresh air and a change of scenery is always a good idea. Unfortunately, many people – myself included – tend to put exercise on the back burner when life gets busy and stress levels rise. Ironically, it is one of the best ways to help deal with that pressure and stress. The sport and exercise psychologist, Dr. Kip Matthews, explains it well: “exercise affords the body an opportunity to practice responding to stress, streamlining the communication between the systems involved in the stress response. The less active we become, the more challenged we are in dealing with stress.”1

Writing has always been a go-to for me, and even as a young child I remember getting a lot of satisfaction from putting pen to paper. I journaled for years at home and on trips abroad, and as an angst-filled teenager I even tried my hand at poetry! That didn’t last but I feel fortunate to have put this “tool” in my toolbox early on in life, and it continues to serve me well. Nonetheless, with the busy pace of family life, I need to remind myself that it is there for me to call upon. It does me a world of good to simply get my thoughts down on paper. I do this in various ways – for one, when it seems like all we talk about at my son’s school are his “stretches”, I try to take note of the clever, funny, interesting things he says and does at home with his broad vocabulary and vivid imagination. I have been doing this for years, and from time to time I sit down with my son and share these anecdotes and quotes with him. He gets to see himself the way that I see him: amazing and unique, full of strength and resilience.

I admit, I find it a challenge sometimes to see the forest through the trees, especially when it feels like the trees are closing in. At times I feel as though I experience my son’s highs and lows, successes and stumbles as if they were my own. This can be heart-stopping and gut-wrenching, exhilarating and joyous all at once. I don’t know if it’s healthy, but that’s the way it is for me. I often need to remind myself of the tools that I have in my toolbox, to dust them off and put them to good use. They help me to weather and sometimes even thrive in the turbulent times.

So whether you write or draw, talk or jazzercise your stress away, the important thing is that you figure out what tools work for you. Once you discover them, place them in your own personal toolbox to draw from when you need. Above all, every parent of a deaf or hard of hearing child should know that there are always moms and dads out there – be it online, at a Hands & Voices coffee night, or through your early intervention agency – who are going through or have already experienced something similar to you. At the very least, they can lend an open ear. And who knows, by reaching out, you may be giving them an important tool to put in their own toolbox.



Posted in Articles, Families to Families | Comments Off on What’s In Your Toolbox?

Writing Your Family’s Story


By Jen Gow

Kim Sanderson recently spoke to ‘the power of your story’ at the annual Parent Workshop that was co-hosted by BC Hands & Voices, Guide by Your Side, CHAA BC Parent’s Branch and the Family Network for Deaf Children. It’s perhaps no surprise that her presentation was brilliant; Kim’s a communications consultant in her professional life, after all. Like a great movie, it was more than just entertaining – I found it really engaging and thought provoking.

Kim spoke to the influence parents have on the core values our deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) children live their lives by. As the mother of two adults, an older hearing daughter and a younger profoundly deaf son, she has the voice of 30 years of experience. Kim summarized her 30 years of experience, and included her 10 top parenting tips. Reflections on her own journey as a parent with her deaf son, family, and community offer rich food for thought.

Editing your original life plan

By her own admission, Kim is an organizer, and when she was younger she set out a plan for her life. It outlined her ambitions for her personal and professional life, down to the type of person she’d marry and the number of children she wanted. Things were coming along quite nicely until she found out her younger child was deaf – this certainly hadn’t been written into the plan!

Like many of us, Kim didn’t know anyone who was deaf. Negative stereotypes filled the void of positive role models. Confusion, sadness, disappointment and fearfulness soon followed but Kim quickly realized that she faced a choice at this point. She could either refuse to accept this change to her plan, or she could accept it and create a new one.

Looking back, Kim has great clarity and confidence when she says that embracing these changes made to her original plan have greatly enriched her life. But she also acknowledges that it didn’t always feel like that, and that it didn’t always come easily.

You are your child’s mirror

As a new mother, Kim worried that she wouldn’t always be there for her children so she wrote letters to their future selves. These letters contained the words that she spoke to her children at the time, and these flashes from the past now offer up a treasure trove of insight.

So what was Kim telling her young deaf child? When he was two, she wrote that he was smart, intelligent and athletic. Now he is a web designer, and a competitive athlete at national and international levels! Similarly, when Kim saw her son in the BC Early Hearing Program ‘Nice to Meet You’ film (which showcases young d/hh adults) she was struck by the way he mirrored the positive language and messages his dad and Kim had used since he was a small boy.

Watching the rest of this film, Kim realized that this projection of a parent’s messages to their children wasn’t limited to her own family. Kim has known many of the young adults in this film since they were babies, and was struck by their family stories of positive reinforcement too. She recalled one parent always speaking to the importance of reading, and her children speak to the importance of literature; another family’s core value centered around communication, regardless of the mode, and their child speaks of the importance of communicating with our children and immersing them in language; another parent was very at ease and accepting of her son’s hearing loss from the very start, and the son speaks of his comfort with his hearing loss.

We are always told that we are our children’s biggest teacher but sometimes it can be hard to see our influence in the incremental changes from day to day. This fast-forward glimpse into the past and present of d/hh young adults was a striking way to see the huge influence that families’ core values have on children’s attitude and outcomes.

Your attitude determines your altitude

Drawing from her own childhood memories, Kim reminded us that this influence can be negative as well as positive, and that it can deeply affect the life choices of our children. We exercise this power not only in our everyday actions but also in the language we use. However, we don’t live in a bubble, and many others people will also hold sway over our children.

Our d/hh children might pick up negative messages from others that can potentially block their progress. Of course, as parents we want to protect our children from those ‘you can’t do that’ moments but when they come up we can advocate, not just to resolve, but also to model for our children. We can’t be with them all the time, though, so just as importantly we must teach them to fly. As I step forward into my daily life, I’m taking Kim’s adage with me: your attitude determines your altitude.


If you have any questions for Kim, you can reach her at consultantmanyhats (at)

Posted in Articles, Families to Families | Comments Off on Writing Your Family’s Story

The Power of Fairies

by Lee Johnston

We run through a similar bedtime routine every night in our house. After dinner and playtime, our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter is given a bath, followed by “milk and book,” as she calls it. Then she snuggles with either myself or my partner in a big comfy chair in her bedroom – lights dimmed, bottle of warm milk at the ready and a selection of familiar books at our side. Along with being a nice way to bond together at the end of our day, it’s a really interesting time in her life, developmentally speaking. Kathleen is becoming more vocal and opinionated in general, as toddlers are wont to do, and more interactive. My partner and I appreciate being able to spend time with Kathleen focusing on literacy and language skills as she winds down for the day, in a comfortable room without distractions.

When it’s my turn to read, I ask her what book she wants first. I’ve learned her shorthand: “Monkey book” refers to Curious George (“pancake” for the one where he saves the charity breakfast; “chocolate” for the one where he wreaks havoc in a chocolate factory); “Mouse book” refers to the story of Tiny Too-Little, the mouse with a crush on a giraffe who attempts to pile random objects high enough to give her a kiss. There are classics like Corduroy and Goodnight Moon, books recommended by workmates and gifted by friends, and ones depicting stories taken straight from her favorite TV shows (I’m looking at you, Peppa Pig!).

One of the latest additions to the book collection holds a special place in my heart. Freddy and the Fairy is the story of a boy who finds a fairy named Bessie-Belle stuck in a tree. He rescues her and in return she offers to grant his wishes. Unfortunately, she can’t hear very well and has trouble correctly interpreting Freddie’s requests for different kinds of pets. A series of miscommunications ensues, wherein Bessie-Belle grants Freddie a bat instead of a cat, a frog instead of a dog, and so on. Freddie gets frustrated and stamps his feet, and the fairy gets sad and cries. Fortunately, the Fairy Queen appears and explains to Freddy that his habits of mumbling, turning away and putting his hand near his mouth when he’s speaking are impeding his ability to communicate with Bessie-Belle. He learns to communicate more clearly and his wishes for a multitude of pets are granted, with only the occasional slip-up.  


Kathleen loved the book from the get-go. Maybe it’s because Bessie-Belle wears hearing aids like her. They’re a subtle blue and often covered by the fairy’s hair, so I’ve pointed them out to her. She nodded in acknowledgement, but seemed more interested in the cat Freddy was envisioning wishing for. Maybe she loves the book because she likes fairies and animals, and can empathize when the fairy is “stuck” and “sad.” Whatever the particular reason, Kathleen’s “Fairy book” quickly became a staple of our nightly routine.

The best part is that it’s actually really good. The illustrations are delightful and the prose stands up to repeated readings. The book’s author, Julia Donaldson, is famous for having written classic children’s books like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom. She herself is hard of hearing and wears hearing aids, and has commented on how touched she was by the positive response to Freddie and the Fairy, particularly from hard of hearing children who were happy to see hearing aid use depicted in a book. Donaldson has gone on to advocate for more diverse representation of deafness and hearing loss in children’s books. More recently, she has gone on to create a book (What the Jackdaw Saw) about friendship and sign language with a group of deaf children in a workshop organised by a UK-based charitable organization for deaf children and youth called Life & Deaf. If you’re interested in reading more about this author’s belief in inclusion in children’s book and about the development of What the Jackdaw Saw connect to this article.

Now that she’s getting older we’re thinking more about how to increase Kathleen’s access to representations of hearing loss. She has yet to indicate that she has questions about why she wears hearing aids while no one else in her family does. And it’s too soon to say what, if any, role her hearing loss and hearing aid use will play in her identity formation as she grows into her older self. But it’s important that we see ourselves reflected in the world, particularly when we’re children. We’re lucky that we can attend group sessions with other hard of hearing and Deaf children, and that another child attending Kathleen’s daycare wears hearing aids. She has examples of other children to look to for affirmation. But it’s nice to have an example of hearing loss representation in our home, expressed in an entertaining and subtle way. It’s also a nice tool to have to pass on to the Freddie’s of the world – those of us (myself included!) who sometimes take our hearing status for granted, and forget to communicate with others as best we can. I’m looking forward to seeking out more books and representations of hearing loss for our family and home, so they’re there if and when Kathleen needs them.

Unfortunately (for me), Kathleen has a new obsession – Peppa’s First Sleepover. This book doesn’t stand up quite so well to repeated readings, which is too bad as it’s the first book Kathleen has decided must be read no less than three times in a row. Freddy and the Fairy’s waiting patiently on the shelf, however; its time will come back around, I’m sure.


Posted in Articles | Comments Off on The Power of Fairies

Parent Workshop- The Journey- Raising Our Deaf & Hard of Hearing Kids

Event Title: Parent Workshop – The Journey- Raising Our Deaf & Hard of Hearing Kids

Hosts: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, CHHA BC Parents’ Branch, Family Network for Deaf Children, Deaf Youth Today

The Power of Stories: Kim Sanderson (Communications Consultant and proud mom of a son who is Deaf) will draw from her experience raising a deaf son and hearing daughter to discuss the importance of identifying and reinforcing your child’s strengths as a means of developing a strong foundation for their life plan.

Language, Learning & Literacy: Charlotte Enns (Associate Dean and a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba) will provide information about how early exposure to language is connected to later learning and literacy development. Her main focus will be on sharing ways that families can reinforce their child’s language and literacy learning.

There will be lots of opportunity for discussion, to ask questions and share experiences in addition to these presenters. ASL interpreting & CART captioning provided.

$15 per adult includes lunch.
Childcare programs available for age group 0-5 and 5-12 year old deaf/hh kids $10/child. Parents to provide own lunches for children. Please see flyer for full details.

Date: Saturday, October 22nd

Location: South Slope Elementary, BC School for the Deaf – 4446 Watling Street, Burnaby

Link: Register @

2016-parent-workshop-page-001 2016-parent-workshop-page-002


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Parent Workshop- The Journey- Raising Our Deaf & Hard of Hearing Kids

Parent Coffee Night- April 24th

Please join us for a special coffee night on Monday April 24th, 2017
Special Topic: Deaf Culture
(Attend in person or Call-in Via Teleconference Line if you live outside the Metro Vancouver area)

parent coffee

We are pleased to have two of our BC Hands & Voices members, Dan Braun and Christy Jeffery lead our evening and share some of their experiences growing up.  Do you wonder what it may be like to use American Sign Language as a primary language?  How do our kids (and us as parents) learn to use interpreters? What are some every day strategies used to adapt as a deaf/hard of hearing person in a world full of sound?  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 option, please RSVP by April 20th so that we can provide you with the calling information.

 WHEN: 7:30 – 9:00pm

WHERE: BC School for the Deaf at Burnaby South Secondary School, 5455 Rumble Street, Burnaby

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


Posted in Deaf Culture, DHH Guides, Events | Comments Off on Parent Coffee Night- April 24th