Halloween Family Play Day 2018

Come out and join us for our First Halloween Family Play Day!


Sunday October 28th, 2018

Thunderbird Community Centre
2311 Cassiar St, Vancouver BC, V5M 3X3

2pm-3pm (Play Gym & Bouncy Castle)
3pm-4pm (Costume Parade & Activities)

Come and get together with other families of deaf/hard of hearing children for a Halloween themed fun time! Bring your little one in costume & don’t forget socks for the bouncy castle, your own snack and a water bottle.

Parents are responsible for their own children at these events.

This is a FREE event, RSVP not required.
Donations gratefully accepted.

ASL Interpreter will be present.


Click below for the pdf flyer to share!

Halloween Family Play Day 10.2018

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Deaf Gain – Another Perspective

Author: Rabab Elbaharia

The first time I heard the expression “Deaf Gain” I did not understand it. When I asked various people to help explain the phrase, I received answers such as “you can talk while your mouth is full by using your hands,” or “you can chat from a distance in a very loud room”.  Deaf gain is a term to counter the idea of being deaf as a ‘loss’. Instead, there can be many benefits to deafness such as improved visual abilities and also important contributions to society in different fields (science, sports, medicine, arts etc.)

Today, when I reflect on my family, I find the deaf gain expression very much resonates. We are a new family of immigrants and 2018 marks our third year in Canada. My daughter Salma was born with left microtia and moderate to severe deafness on the left side.

Our first deaf gain experience was probably our connection to the Guide By Your Side program (GBYS). As a mom exploring all the mixed feelings that came with the news of Salma’s hearing difference, I was very happy to learn about the program and that I would be connected to a parent of a child with a similar hearing difference. With the first call I received from our Parent Guide, I felt security in knowing we wouldn’t be navigating this new situation alone.

More blessings arrived as we started early intervention services. We loved going to the early intervention agency which was a home away from home to us. From early on, our family has been involved in many of the programs offered through the centre, and not only did our involvement help our hard of hearing daughter, it helped the whole family to feel connected to the new community we had chosen to live in.

Being new to Canada with very limited friends and no family members around, I can say that our involvement in the programs and activities has really protected us from experiencing the social isolation that can come with being immigrants. It gave us an invaluable chance to connect physically and emotionally with other parents who we consider today as true friends. With our involvement came the opportunity for us to get to know the deaf/hard of hearing community and to see how amazing a deaf person can be in every aspect. As a mother of a daughter with single side deafness or unilateral hearing, I had always asked myself “what if she loses her hearing on the other side?”. Now I am not particularly concerned after getting to know how capable a deaf person can be.

In regards to deaf gain, I also must mention the number of activities and positive experiences that we as a family now look forward to every year, such as the Hornby island family camp, three days of fun filled activities every August (Mingle and Play), and lots of gatherings, outings, and picnics throughout the year.  These mean a lot to us as a new family trying to build connections with our new community and create that very important feeling of belonging.

Although it may sound funny, I have to say attending the groups and activities with Salma were ice breaking opportunities. They allowed me to test my language, feel that I am safe, understand people around me and be understood.

The deaf gain is not only a blessing received by a person who is deaf; in our case it was an enormous benefit that extended to include my whole family.

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From Swimming to Swan Lake – Language and Learning Go Hand in Hand

By Brianne Braun

Whether your child is deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing, chances are they will be involved in recreational programs at some point in their childhood. For our American Sign Language (ASL) using kids, we must ensure that they have access to those same opportunities by requesting, and sometimes insisting, that a Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) be provided.

Our oldest child, Argyle, is hearing. We started parent & tot swimming lessons with him when he was just a baby and he has been enrolled in various Recreation Surrey programs ever since. When our daughter Aurelia came along, our plan to sign her up for swimming lessons and other Recreation Surrey programs didn’t change just because she happened to be born deaf.

So in early 2016, I asked our local pool to provide a RSLI for Aurelia’s parent & tot swimming lessons, and also encouraged them to create a class specifically for Deaf and hard of hearing kids. I was connected with one of the City of Surrey’s Accessibility & Inclusion workers and was thrilled to learn that the City of Surrey was willing to provide interpreting services as part of a new pilot program. That was over two years ago now and our group has expanded as new families have joined and the kids in our original parent & tot class graduated to independent lessons. Although we called Aurelia “the barnacle” when she first started swimming lessons, because she often refused to let go of Dan or I, her Saturday morning swimming lesson with her Deaf and hard of hearing friends is now one of the highlights of her week.

Aurelia also loves to dance. Countless times I would grab my ear plugs then crank the music up for afternoon dance parties, so I signed the two of us up for Creative Dance Moves, a parent participation class offered by Recreation Surrey. We did this for two seasons, with me trying to juggle between the roles of both parent and interpreter. When the lesson was over, boys and girls would start arriving for the next class, Ballet Level 1, which was not parent participation. Aurelia always lingered to watch and when she started practicing ballet moves on her own at home, I knew what to register her for next.

As ASL is Aurelia’s first language, she became accustomed to using interpreters from a young age, but usually alongside her father, who is also Deaf, or, like the swimming lessons, as part of a larger group of Deaf and hard of hearing children. This would be her first time being the only Deaf participant, with no one except the interpreter knowing any ASL. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive, but I once again reached out to the Accessibility & Inclusion folks at the City of Surrey and requested a RSLI for Aurelia’s upcoming ballet class. It was as simple as sending an email and receiving a prompt reply stating that an interpreting agency had been contacted and that I would receive confirmation soon.

On the first day of ballet, Aurelia met the interpreter and then immediately told me to “go sit on the bench with the other moms” while she turned and joined her classmates. To see that level of confidence in my three year old, I can’t tell you how proud I was in that moment. Having access through the interpreter, I watched her learn, hone her dance skills, and develop friendships with the other children. Aurelia and I are both looking forward to this fall when she will resume ballet once again. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the City of Surrey and Recreation Surrey for their ongoing commitment to ensuring that their programs and services are accessible to even the very youngest members of the Deaf community.

Whether ASL is your child’s first language, or if they prefer to use ASL for some or all of their communication in group settings/challenging listening environments, please consider requesting a RSLI for your child. And if someone tells you that it can’t be done, don’t take no for an answer. For our Deaf and hard of hearing children, having full language access makes a world of difference.

To request a Registered Sign Language Interpreter (RSLI) for your child’s Recreation Surrey program, please contact Ross MacDonald – Community Services Assistant. Phone: 604.502.6321, Fax: 604.502.6315, Email: rmacdonald (at) surrey.ca

If you need help with advocating for services in your local community, please feel free to connect with Dan and I, we are happy to offer our support.

Email: bcdhhkids (at) gmail.com

Posted in Advocacy, Articles, Babies, Deaf Culture | Comments Off on From Swimming to Swan Lake – Language and Learning Go Hand in Hand

Parent & Child Groups Fall 2018-2019

BC Family Hearing Resource Society is hosting many groups next fall! These groups and events are open to all families receiving services from any of the three Early Intervention Agencies, (BCFHRS, CHSCBC & DCS). Check the PDF and be sure to register with your closest centre.

Or you can download the flyer here: ParentChildFallGroups2018-2019


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2018 Summer Get-Togethers Around the Province

Summer Play Days in BC Parks!


Come and get together with other families of deaf/hard of hearing children. Bring your own picnic/snacks, lawn chairs/blanket and water gear if you want to get wet! Parents are responsible for their own children at these events. Look for the orange & blue balloons!

Monday, August 13th, Victoria/Saanich area – 3pm-5pm Beckwith Park
857 Beckwith Ave (find us near the water park)

Monday, August 20th, Prince George – 10am-12 noon Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park – 17th Avenue (find us near the water park)

Tuesday, August 21st , New Westminster – 11am-2pm Grimston Park
1900 Seventh Ave (find us near the wading pool)

RSVP is not required, but please watch our Facebook page
for notice of cancellation if it’s raining.

Visit our Facebook Page & Website:
Contact: info@bchandsandvoices.com

Download the flyer here: Summer Get Together Flyer 2018

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Never Mind, It’s Not Important = Never Mind, You’re Not Important

Author: Teresa Kazemir

I was chatting with our adult son recently, reflecting back on his childhood, and the “no never mind” rule came up. I don’t recall who first taught me the “no never mind” rule so unfortunately I can’t give them their due credit, but I have heard several people refer to it over the years, and I have always thought it’s worth passing on to families of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Jesse- age 10

So what is the “no never mind” rule? It is a rule that our family followed very strictly over the years, and it was simply the idea that it was never OK to tell our hard of hearing son “never mind” if he missed something and asked what was said. And to keep things fair, the same rule applied to everyone else in the family. So whether the person said “what?” or “pardon?” or “huh?” or “I didn’t hear you,” the expectation was that the person speaking would repeat what they said. In our family, we used mostly spoken language with some sign support, but this rule is not specific to any particular language or communication approach – it is about having access to what is being communicated from one person to another.

There are several reasons why this rule is so important for children who are deaf or hard of hearing:

Self Esteem

When you tell someone “never mind,” you may think you’re sending the message “never mind, it’s not important.” However, the message that is heard and felt at the other end of that exchange is often “never mind, you’re not important.” We were very intentional about building and preserving our son’s self esteem – we wanted him to know that we thought he deserved to access what was being said just as much as everyone else in our family, and was no less valued. So even if we knew the information was not intended for him or would not be of interest to him, we would repeat what was said, and let him make that decision for himself.


We also wanted our son to learn that he has the right to full access in any situation. When he and his siblings were young, we modelled and reinforced the rule at home. As he got older, that expectation was internalized, and he started telling other people that they couldn’t say “never mind” to him. He reflects back now that he wasn’t necessarily able to explain it well at that time, as to him it was just a rule, but it definitely made him fight for what he missed. “I kind of laugh in hindsight because none of the other kids at school would have known the rule, but I assumed it was a universal thing at that point.”

Incidental Learning/ World Knowledge

We were aware that kids who are deaf or hard of hearing often miss out on opportunities for incidental learning – they don’t have easy access to “overhear” conversations in the same way that most kids with typical hearing do in hearing families, or as signing kids do in families where the first language is ASL. By accessing comments or conversations that are not necessarily intended for them, children gradually acquire something called “world knowledge.” They learn that adults don’t always agree about things, that relatives get sick, that a repair person can be called when the washing machine breaks, that people pay income tax etc. There are so many things that we don’t explicitly teach our children, and they learn simply by being exposed to conversations. So any time our son asked what had been said, as long as it wasn’t private or confidential, we repeated it.

Now, as an adult looking back, Jesse says that rule made a big difference for him. “It really taught me that I was entitled to full access, and as a result made me fight for access when I didn’t have it.” He noted that to this day he gets really indignant when someone tells him “never mind” – which he thinks is a good thing.

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Fun Family Picnic 2018

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 16th, 10:30 am to 2:00 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 11th at  www.fndc.ca/familypicnic

Special Note– Families of children with Atresia/ Microtia – let’s meet up at the picnic! Please contact Catherine: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca  who will collect names, and introduce families to one another during the picnic.


Click here to see our Picnic Flyer in Traditional Chinese: TC Flyer
or in Simplified Chinese: SC Flyer

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Proposed Changes to BC H&V Bylaws

Notice of special resolution: The board of BC Hands & Voices will be forwarding a special resolution to rescind and replace our current bylaws with an updated version that reflects our new two-tier membership structure. The special resolution will be voted on at the May 7th (2018) board meeting, to be held 7pm – 9pm at Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC (3575 Kaslo St., Vancouver). All eligible BC Hands & Voices voting members are invited to attend. The updated bylaws are available for review here: Proposed Changes to BC Hands & Voices Bylaws

Please RSVP to ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca by Saturday May 5th, 2018

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Family Play Day 2018


BC Hands & Voices

Family Play Day

Saturday, May 5th, 2018
12:30pm – 2:30 pm
Bridgeview Community Centre
11475 126A St, Surrey, BC V3V 5G8
*Admission by Donation*
($5 / family suggested)

Come and get together with other families with little ones who are deaf or hard of hearing (ages 0-5 and their siblings up to 10 years old)! Parents can connect and mingle while the kids enjoy the open gym and bouncy castle. Bring your own snacks and water and don’t forget socks for the bouncy castle!

Registration is limited so be sure to RSVP with number of children and their ages.

ASL Interpreters Available

Visit our Facebook Page:
RSVP: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Family Play Day Flyer<< click here


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The BC Hands & Voices 2018 AGM: Reflecting on the year that was, and planning for the one to come

By Lee Johnston

The BC Hands & Voices AGM – held this year on March 5th – always provides an opportunity to reflect and take pride in all our organization has accomplished over the past year. In this month’s article we’re sharing some highlights from the president’s report on our past year’s activities. We hope you’ve enjoyed being part of the extended Hands & Voices family, and look forward to another year of serving families of Deaf and hard of hearing children aged 0-5!

The BC H&V Board

The board has remained fairly stable this year after saying good bye to some longer-term members in the years previous. Teresa Kazemir stepped into the secretary’s role and will continue acting in the role as past president for one more year, offering invaluable support to the new leadership team. Lee Johnston and Jen Gow will be completing the second of their 2 year term commitments as President and Vice-president respectively, and Amy Ho will continue on in her role as treasurer after doing an outstanding job in this area for the past year. Kim Shauer will continue as our amazing GBYS Coordinator, and Jenny Hatton, Joy Santos, Dan Braun, and our newest addition Rabab Elbaharia will continue to serve on the board for this upcoming year. We’re happy to have such a diverse and dedicated group of parents and professionals on our team!


Past Year’s Accomplishments

The H&V board has been busy since hosting last year’s AGM, which featured a discussion on traveling with Deaf/Hard of Hearing children. On top of 7 board meetings and our annual all day retreat, board representatives joined in on Hands & Voices headquarter calls, local meetings of the Council of Service Providers, and the Coalition of Parent Organizations (BC H&V, CHHA, and FNDC).

BC H&V parents also participated on a panel for the BC Early Hearing Program Newborn Hearing Screener training in April 2017, providing feedback on their screening experience and particularly on improving how they communicate with parents. In May of last year, Teresa & Jen (along with another parent Bobbi Taylor) presented at a conference for Teacher of the DHH/Hearing Resource teachers. In the fall, Kim presented on both GBYS Program & BC Hands & Voices events to audiologists.

On top of that, we hosted the following events for parents of DHH kids:

EVENT DATE TOPIC (if applicable)
Coffee Night Jan 23 Mild/ Moderate Hearing Levels
AGM/ Workshop March 6 Traveling with Your Deaf/ Hard of Hearing Child
Coffee Night April 24 Deaf Culture
Coffee Night May 29th Microtia/ Atresia
June picnic June 17 Family Fun picnic
Summer get-together (Chinese Families) July 29th
Summer get-together August 22
Coffee Night Sept 28 Sleep time Strategies
Fall Parent Workshop Nov 4 Growing Up with Hands & Voices
Coffee Night Nov 27 Unilateral Hearing
Coffee Night Jan 29 Use of Technology for DHH individuals

Through our monthly electronic newsletter we distributed original articles written by board members and special guests, as well as favourites from our archives, a helpful link, a profile of a featured board member or parent guide, and news about local events – to over 200 members! We continued to provide quarterly submissions to the Hand & Voices Communicator, which we distributed to paid members 4 times a year.

Perhaps our proudest accomplishment is the fact that the BC H&V Guide by Your Side program continues to support families across BC with both Parent Guides and DHH Guides. Approximately 70 families over this past year were put in touch with understanding parents and role models.  


Last and certainly not least, we would not have been able to accomplish all that we have over the past year without donations and grants. We want to recognize and thank the following organizations for their funding and in-kind support:

  • The BC Early Hearing Program for the use of the conference line, and support for our events and activities, as well as housing and funding our GBYS program.
  • Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC, BC Family Hearing Resource Centre, the Deaf Well-Being Program for the use of their facilities for our meetings and coffee nights.
  • Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC for use of their facilities for our fall workshop and childcare.
  • And all of the board members, volunteers and staff for their donations as well as their participation and dedication over the past year.

And most of all, we’d like to thank the families who have joined H&V as members, come out to our events, and engaged with us over the past year. We look forward to serving you for the year to come!

  • The BC H&V Board
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