At the Table with BC Hands & Voices Presents: “New to the Journey?”

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Are you just starting on the journey of parenting a deaf/hard of hearing child? Or perhaps you’ve been on this ride for a while and now feel ready to connect with more parents? Maybe you’re at a new point in your journey or are changing course and have some questions. We are Guide By Your Side parents and BC Hands & Voices Board members supporting parents of deaf/hard of hearing children aged 0-5. Join us for an informal parent-to-parent night and ask us anything! We are here for you! 
ASL interpreter will be available if requested by September 21, 2022.
WHEN: Wednesday October 5, 2022 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: Join us via Zoom from your favourite spot at home!
CONTACT/INFO: https://tinyurl.com/r9wtey45

Download our flyer here: New to the Journey 10.5.2022

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At the Table with BC Hands & Voices Presents: “Tips for Inclusion-The Early Years”

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Join us as we discuss advocating for your child’s inclusion and access as you transition them into daycare, preschool, swimming/dance lessons, family gatherings & other activities. Get tips from experienced parents on ways to ensure your child is understanding and being fully included when you aren’t the one in charge!
ASL interpreter will be available if requested by September 1, 2022.
For parents/caregivers living outside the lower mainland or preferring to attend remotely, an online option will be provided.
WHEN: Wednesday September 14, 2022 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: BCFHRC-15220 92 Ave, Surrey, BC V3R 2T8
CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/yc7svkzm

Download our flyer here: Tips for Inclusion 9.14.2022

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Summer Get-Together 2022


WHO:BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Come and meet up with other families of young deaf/hard of hearing children! This park has a beautiful playground and wading pool. Bring a picnic lunch, blanket/lawn chairs & water gear if you want to get wet!
Parents are responsible for their own children. ASL interpreter will be available.
Check your email and our FB event page on the day of as this is a weather dependent event.
WHEN: Tuesday August 23, 2022 11:00am-2:00pm
WHERE: Grimston Park, New Westminster
CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/yckrzrub

Download our flyer here: Summer Get-Together 2022

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Why is Social Emotional Learning/Development so Important? 

Recapped by Kim Shauer based on a presentation by Tara Dyck

As proud parents we typically love sharing our children’s developmental progress, often focusing on physical and language milestones. Like with our hearing children, we also need to be intentional about teaching our deaf/hard of hearing children Social Emotional Learning/Development skills. 

BC Hands & Voices recently hosted a parent evening where Deaf/Hard of Hearing Guide Tara Dyck presented to us. She is a mental health therapist and has both personal and professional knowledge and practice in teaching and supporting Social Emotional Learning/Development skills. 

Here are some of the key messages and resources shared:

  • Early Social Emotional Learning/Development is particularly important because it provides a critical foundation for general life success. Good communication skills top the list and this can be of particular concern for deaf and hard of hearing children (dhh) because the majority of dhh children are born to hearing parents (which meant for them, communication and language were acquired without much effort as they grew up). Some dhh children tend to be more visual than auditory, therefore auditory cues and spoken language/communication may not always be accessible to them. Having an accessible language/communication method is so important for building Social Emotional Learning/Development skills. Be encouraged though, hearing parents are capable of providing access to language for their child and early intervention providers and many others are available to support learning. 
  • Good Social Emotional Learning/Development skills produce positive qualities such as good self-direction, self-control, being able to think independently, show empathy and understand one’s own feelings as well as those of others. Some other good qualities are particularly important for functioning well in our multicultural world today, such as understanding the perspectives of others, knowing when dependence and interdependence on others is needed, and being able to understand and appreciate both one’s own and others’ cultures. 
  • Age-appropriate social-emotional behaviour supports self-esteem, self-confidence, healthy relationships, flexibility, and the ability to attain socially approved goals. 
  • As we all know, infants and toddlers THRIVE on close relationships with their parents/caregivers. Through these experiences, they develop positive self-esteem and trust in others. Parents may need to provide their dhh infants and toddlers with slightly different experiences in order to develop the same levels of positive self- esteem and trust. 
  • dhh children, like hearing children, need to feel special to someone and be well cared for. All (!) children who have  warm affectionate relationships with their parents/caregivers are more likely to feel safe and secure, be confident, have healthy self-esteem, be positive about others, be socially adjusted and achieve. Give your child lots of affection – lots of cuddles and holding hands. Have patience and talk to them in reassuring ways – in a language that is accessible to them – whether it be spoken or sign or both!
  • Be a playmate for your dhh children and show interest in the things that they like to do. Introduce them to activities (i.e. hiking, biking, swimming, observing nature like birds, art/crafts, etc.). When your child is ready, show them how to take turns and share. Provide opportunities for them to play with other children and make friends, ideally with both other dhh children as well as with hearing peers. Connect with other parents of dhh children. Hands & Voices and early intervention programs can help provide these opportunities and connections.
  • Spencer and Koester (2015) stress the importance of parents using TACTILE CONTACT to help their deaf infants calm, soothe, and comfort themselves. Tactile contact also reinforces parent-child bonding along with vision, movement, rhythm, pacing, mirroring, and following the child’s lead. These skills can be learned and are simple and easy to incorporate into daily interactions. 

(Spencer, P. E. & Koester, L. S. (2015). Nurturing language and learning development of deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.) 

  • Social Emotional Development in Infants/Toddlers. The chart below is not exclusive to hearing infants/toddlers. This is applicable to dhh infants/toddlers too! The only modifications that MAY NEED to be made for dhh infants/toddlers are more tactile contact; visual language vs. auditory spoken language; meeting/socializing with other dhh infants/toddlers; and, often, hearing parents’ ACCEPTANCE of their dhh child – see next bullet point for more on this!

  • How do you see your child? This can have a negative or a positive effect on your Deaf/HH infant/toddler’s Social Emotional Learning/Development. Some current research is showing that hearing parents not only cope with and adjust to having a child who is deaf/hard of hearing, but are also focusing on the positive effects that raising a deaf/HH child CAN have on the family system (“Deaf Gain”). Do you feel pride? Gratitude? Curiosity? 
  • Hearing parents can have a variety of reactions to having a dhh child, and Tara has seen many, both socially and in her practice. The feelings of grief and fearfulness experienced by many hearing parents may not go away, but it seems more hearing parents are also feeling hopeful and proud of raising a dhh child. Generally hearing parents are starting to acknowledge the views from the disability model vs. the Deaf cultural linguistic model of deafness, AND that both views can co-exist. 
  • Think of ways to empower your dhh child. Give them responsibilities and chores around the house. Provide rewards. Talk about using the rewards, i.e. buying toys they really want and then going to toy stores to spend the money. Recognize and praise their successes. Providing lots of praise can go a long way in helping children be proud of who they are and being confident self-advocates. (Advocacy skills will come in very handy when they are older!)
  • There are also ways to support your child’s emotional development.  When all (including dhh!) infants reach 9-12 months, identifying/naming emotions is an important skill to start and reinforce. Have fun copying the emotions/faces with your dhh infant/toddler. Use a similar emotion sheet while interacting/teaching emotions. This is very important in developing self validation and being able to regulate emotions, and to build/maintain positive and healthy relationships.

Here is a list of useful resources:

  • A favourite resource Tara shares is Michelle ASL – YouTube for great ASL stories and nursery rhymes to enjoy with your child. We learned how important a baby’s emotional development is to lay the foundation for relationships with others.
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Fun Family Picnic 2022

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing Program, CHHA BC Parents’ Branch, 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:
• Fun foods like popcorn, frozen treats & carnival treats
•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 picnic lunch for your family
• lawn chairs or blanket to sit on

Rain or Shine!  Free admission! Donations gratefully accepted at the event.

WHEN: Saturday June 11th, 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 6th at  www.fndc.ca/familypicnic

See PDF flyer here>> Fun Family Picnic 2022
PDF Flyer in Traditional Chinese (繁體中文): 2022 picnic tc
or in Simplified Chinese (简体中文): 2022 picnic sc

 

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Hi, I am a Cardiac Surgeon and I am Hard of Hearing

Author: Dr. Janet Ngu

Growing Up & Diagnosis

I was born and raised in Malaysia in a very loving and supportive family. No one in my family had a hearing problem and hearing screening tests were not routine in Malaysia, therefore my hearing difference was not diagnosed until I was 12 years old. Fortunately my speech and language developed in spite of my reduced auditory access, but I was having increased difficulty in school and daily life. For a very long time, I thought it was my problem that I was being inattentive or being careless. When the diagnosis of bilateral moderate-severe hearing levels was revealed to me, ironically, I had a sense of relief – it was not my fault! My mother and my aunt who were with me at the doctor’s office were in denial and I remembered them anxiously asking the doctor if there was anything that could be done.

 

First Hearing Aid

A month later I got my first hearing aid for my right ear, in which the hearing loss was more profound – yes, I only got one despite the fact that I have bilateral hearing loss. We thought one would be sufficient as I was not completely deaf. Honestly, I hated my first hearing aid – it was a pure sound amplifier with a significant amount of feedback. As I was wearing only one hearing aid, my localization of sound was significantly affected. I stopped wearing my first hearing aid after barely two months. Looking back, I wish I had more information and education after the diagnosis. I would have gotten bilateral hearing aids and undergone proper training and adjustment, which could have made my initial experience with hearing aids much more pleasant.

Challenges Along the Way

Without any hearing enhancement tool or skills, I managed to excel through my secondary school education (equivalent to junior and high school here in Canada). I put in extra effort on my own. I requested to sit in the front row. Not only so that I could hear better, but I also picked up lip reading. I borrowed notes from my classmates on a daily basis to make sure that I did not miss any information from the classes. I was exhausted every day as I had to work so much harder to make sure that my academic performance was on par. 

Fast forward a few years, I got accepted into medical school. As you can imagine, the challenges were even more enormous. First of all, we had a big class of 150 medical students in my year. The lecture hall was so large that sitting in the front row and lip reading were simply not enough. There was also significant doubt whether I could survive a clinical setting where communication is critical. I finally went back to audiology and got a pair of hearing aids with much improved technology. My life changed for the better since then. I started to wonder how much I had missed throughout those years without hearing aids. With the same pair of hearing aids, I survived and excelled through my lengthy and challenging medical school and cardiac surgery training. Of course, not without bumps in the road.

Keep in mind that wearing hearing aids does not restore hearing completely. I still face difficulties in group meetings or social events when there is significant background noise. I still highly depend on lip reading. Without a doubt, the mask mandate during the pandemic definitely worsens the challenges for us. Take heart, I am not saying this to discourage anyone. I just want to acknowledge that there will be ongoing challenges for hard of hearing individuals, but it does not mean that we should be defeated. We can still live our lives to the fullest potential and we are all equipped to achieve goals that are bigger and higher than what we could ever dream of. In fact, we are even better equipped as compared to others. I believe that when one sense is compromised, other senses will be enhanced imparting a wonderful opportunity that others may not have. For me, I have a heightened sense of my surroundings which enhances my ability to observe minor details, which is especially useful in a surgical setting. 

Lessons I’ve Learned

Personally, it has been a challenging yet fulfilling journey for me so far. I take pride in all of the challenges that I have overcome so far as these have cumulatively shaped me into who I am today. Count your blessings instead of your problems, knowing that what we focus on grows. Be open-minded to new technology, treatment or alternative communication methods, and do not even consider those as a label of disability. We shall continue to educate and support each other. There shall be no fear – being fearless is the real courage. Parents, please believe in your children that they can achieve everything they aspire to. Being deaf or hard of hearing is only a part of our identity, but it is neither our definition nor our destiny.  

Last but not least, here is a little video clip that I would like to share with you all: http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1156891&binId=1.1166252&playlistPageNum=1

 

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Parent Connect Night on Zoom – Keep Calm & Ask a Dad

To register please visit: https://tinyurl.com/2925ny4s

Download our flyer here: KCA Dad Night 5.7.2022 flyer

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Thoughts from a Grandma

Written by Karen

What were your feelings when you first found out about Lily’s (your granddaughter’s) identification as having a hearing loss?

Lily was such a beautiful, healthy baby that the diagnosis blindsided us. The biggest question was how and why did deafness occur in this precious baby. Hoping against all odds that the diagnosis was wrong. 

Reality sunk in and the biggest need was to support the parents who were processing this new reality. The baby was flourishing and content. We were inundated with information that was foreign to us and hard to assimilate. 

We were on a steep learning curve. Early Intervention services were there from the first supporting the family and providing all of us with hope that dealing with deafness was doable. One step at a time. Also trying to make sure toddler big brother didn’t get pushed to the sidelines. A perfect job for the grandparents. 

How did you support your granddaughter and her family moving forward?

Once the dust settled we needed to know how to help this baby no matter what. She needed all the family to be engaged, face the diagnosis and help where needed. 

In other words she needed to be treated like a regular baby but with a specific identifiable need. Her parents were both fully involved with whatever was offered. As grandparents we needed to learn about hearing aids and the myriad challenges that accompany trying to get a three month old baby to “cooperate” in wearing them. 

Our daughter was involved with early intervention services from the start and educated us as grandparents so that we were on board at all times.

We treated our granddaughter like any baby, lots of cuddles, facial expressions, play, books – all the normal stuff and talking to her so that sound was not foreign to her when her hearing aids were in. 

How have your lives benefited from having a dhh grandchild?

On a positive note our whole world was opened to children who are hard of hearing or deaf. We learned of resources available to the children of B.C. up to five years of age at no cost to the families. We also were encouraged as grandparents to be involved with all aspects of the services offered. I went to a basic sign language class for families of deaf children so that we could communicate with our granddaughter at an early age. 

The early intervention preschool classes observed through a two-way window were very instrumental in tutoring me how to communicate with and encourage her. The staff were amazing and so welcoming to family involvement. 

The journey with our granddaughter has educated us in the challenges facing the deaf community, the tools that are available for babies and up – hearing aids and cochlear implants and the need to support those with challenges of any kind, not just the spectrum of hard of hearing and deafness. 

What else would you share with grandparents who are just starting this journey?

Above all do not treat your grandchild any differently from any other grandchild, each child is unique, love them unconditionally, engage with them and give them support and encouragement as needed. 

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Asking for Accommodations Can Be Easier Than We Think

As your kids get older and start showing interest in different things, you may start putting them into various classes and workshops on their own. That’s definitely been the case for our family. My child is a preteen and has loads of different interests, many of which we pursue online. While they have good access with their devices (using either a streamer into the laptop or bluetooth connected directly with their hearing aid), they also rely heavily on captioning (for example when the background noise in our home is loud, or the speaker on screen is quiet).

As families with dhh children, we’re all familiar with the importance of captioning and interpreting for increasing access to language. Captioning is always turned on in our home for TV and movie watching. It’s just something we do. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Did you know that the closed captioning option isn’t a standard feature when joining a zoom call? Neither did I, until the pandemic forced us all more online. My kids’ piano lessons and martial arts classes were taught online for much of last year and while we were using different platforms I noticed the ability to turn on closed captioning wasn’t available for zoom (it is a clickable feature for Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook and Youtube).

How to set up captioning in Zoom:


As my own workplace started  conducting more meetings online I became familiar with creating more accessible meetings through zoom with closed captioning. Please see the following link for instructions: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/4409683389709-Enabling-or-disabling-closed-captioning-and-live-transcription-services

This made me think about how many other organizers may not know about this! My child attended a four-week babysitters’ course online and before the session started I contacted the organizer and asked about closed captioning. In my request email I also sent along the zoom support link for easy reference. In my experience, people are more likely to help you if you help them do it. They were very surprised but supportive of the request. They had never been asked, nor did they know that this was an option they needed to toggle. While there was some nervousness about the accuracy of captioning and a fear that it could auto-caption “some bad words in error”, they agreed to try. I offered my experience as both a parent (who would never blame the host for that) and as an attendee (we use closed captioning on every meeting and have found it to be very accurate, not to mention its worth for accessibility for all attendees). In the end, the answer was an enthusiastic yes!

This is also something that can be turned on for pre-recorded material on some platforms! My child’s Science class is done online with all pre-recorded material. I noticed that there was no option to turn on the captioning, so I contacted the school. Again, they were unaware that this functionality wasn’t available and quickly converted all the lessons for her grade as well as others.

This summer we attended an outdoor movie at a friend’s home. While it was no big deal to ask a friend to turn on captioning, it occurred to me that this could also be done for a public event, where a simple request to the organizers could end up benefitting many attendees!

In all situations the organizers have been grateful for the information and the request to have their courses and classes be more accessible for everyone. Now when I register for classes online, I try to remember to ask ahead of time. When I get my registration email, I pop off an email to the organizer asking for this option.

Hopefully this will become standard practice as we move forward, but until then you can share the link above with your hosts and just start getting into the habit of asking for accommodations. I try to involve my preteen when I do this. They’ll sit beside me as I type out the email and sometimes I ask them to dictate what I should say. It’s excellent practice for everyone.

BC Hands & Voices Post Note:
Hands & Voices has recently published a helpful document for making online meetings accessible for all, which could also be shared. Take a look here: https://handsandvoices.org/pdf/covid-19/Guideline-Accessibility_Online-PhoneMeetings_18Mar2020_Final.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3svACZ-k81f9t1MuPZiZNOEfiRT1JCi8soN47aTN9YM8bO0FwS_AUQ3g8

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“Birds & Bees” Basics for Parents of Young Children with Sexual Health Expert Saleema Noon

We’re delighted to host Saleema Noon, leading sexual health educator in our province. Renowned for her work in schools, and a familiar face in our media, Saleema will tackle this serious topic in a way that is fun, light-hearted and current. In this open and informational session, parents will explore sexual health, understand why we should be discussing this with our children at a young age and why it’s especially important for our deaf and hard of hearing kids to be well educated in this area. Learn words, concepts & signs that are easy to use, leaving you well equipped to answer questions children ask. BC Hands & Voices board member Levi Traxler will show us how to teach the same concepts and vocabulary in ASL.

This workshop will focus on children 0-12 years old. Professionals are welcome to register.
ASL interpreters will be provided.

Tuesday, March 29 at 7:00pm –9:00pm
Location: Online – Zoom
Register to receive the Zoom information:  https://tinyurl.com/2p82t8at

Download our flyer here: Saleema Birds&Bees 3.2022

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