Learning from DHH Adults- Parent Connect Evening

WHO:BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing ProgramWHAT: Discover a variety of perspectives and explore your curiosity in a neutral and welcoming environment.They will share some of their experiences growing up as well as-how to develop self confidence in your child from an early age-what it’s like using various technologies in everyday life-insights from firsthand experiences navigating the world with diverse perspectives, including learning a variety of signed & spoken languages-how they have developed meaningful friendships and family relationshipsASL interpreters and CART captioning will be provided.WHEN: Wednesday April 10, 2024 7:00pm-8:30pmWHERE: online via Zoom

CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: http://tinyurl.com/tw8hja7f

Download our full flyer here: DHH Adults 4.10.2024

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On the Mat and on the Field – Tips for Navigating Sports with Your Deaf/Hard of Hearing Children

By Maria Ruiz

My name is Maria Ruiz and I am a mother to three beautiful and talented children, two of whom were born hard of hearing. Miah, who is 13, has become a passionate Jiu Jitsu fighter, training 5 days a week at her local Jiu Jitsu gym. Andrew is 11 years old, and is a star Goalkeeper for the Division 1A soccer team, the top competitive team for his age group. Miah’s coach, Matt Kwan, is a passionate and successful Jiu Jitsu coach, and has created an exciting, riveting, challenging, and motivating environment for all of his fighters. Children of all ages come to his gym each night to not only train, but to be inspired by the vision Matt has for each child. We asked Matt to share about his experiences coaching Miah.

Matt, what is it like training someone who is hard of hearing?

“So surprising! What surprised me the most was how Miah embraced and was in charge of her own hearing loss, hearing aids, and her own desire to grow as an athlete. When her hearing aids fall out in class, she lets her opponent know and asks them to wait for her so she can put them back in. When she can’t hear instructions she isn’t afraid to ask us to repeat but I also noticed how intently she listens, too. I see all the adaptations she has to make to come to class ready to learn and that has motivated me to support her desire to be the best fighter. She takes this sport so seriously and that makes me take her more seriously.” 

Coach Matt Kwan and Miah Ruiz

How has having a hard of hearing child changed the way you teach?

“Teaching someone with hearing loss reminded me that I don’t let hearing loss, or other challenges stop me from focusing on teaching from a place of passion. If I lead from passion my hope is that the kids will catch that passion and want to develop even more as a fighter. My job as a coach is to just meet them where they are at and create a space where they feel safe and accepted as they are to perform the best that they can each class.”

What are some adaptations you have made for Miah?

“Well one thing that I’ve started providing is extra materials and resources for all the students in my class. I provide videos as well as additional reading. I also have a podcast for those who want to understand the sport even more.”

Tell me about tournaments and equipment use (e.g., hearing aids, remote microphone system/FM): 

“So at tournaments I love how Miah’s hearing aids and FM were all set up for me to use and that the process was easy and straightforward. However, the funny and interesting part is that other coaches were questioning this and whether it was “fair”. So for me this was a great chance to stand up and advocate for Miah in the Tournament circle, filled with very competitive coaches. I shut down any talk of disallowing the use of the FM, arguing with the other coaches that she has hearing loss and needs this equipment to support her hearing.  On the flip side, sometimes Miah’s hearing aids have fallen out during a match and at that point I know that she has to fully rely on knowledge and experience and can no longer rely on my direction and coaching. That is when she has to rely on what she already knows in order to compete with full confidence.”

Miah took home top place in a 2023 tournament

Matt, what advice would you give to other sports coaches?

“To other coaches out there who are coaching a child with hearing loss, I’d say to treat them like any other child, make them feel welcome and accepted and be willing to make the necessary adjustments so they can arrive confidently, supported, and ready to learn and perform. I’d also tell the coaches to instill respect for all people, having zero tolerance for bullying of any kind.” 

Lastly, Matt, what advice would you give to parents considering putting their deaf/hard of hearing kids in a sport, if they might be nervous about it?

“If there are parents out there unsure of whether or not to put their hard of hearing child in any sport, do it! Sports are so important and teach kids so much. Team sports teach you to rely on others, and for others to rely on your child. This means the other kids understand, and work with your child’s hearing loss. Through this, empathy and patience are instilled. And for your child, it teaches them to talk to other kids about their hearing loss and what they need to hear best. For solo sports, there are a certain set of character building skills that are developed. It teaches kids to set goals for themselves and try to meet those self-set goals. It encourages children with hearing loss to be the boss of their performance goals and to build confidence. They are in control of what they want to learn and how they want to grow. As a coach, I’m there to support their own personal goals to grow and exceed their goals.”

So what can we do as parents when we either are looking for a sports coach for our hard of hearing child or are unsure whether our current coach is good for our kids? For Edwin and I, we have learned that at the end of the day it comes down to the coach themselves and their desire to see any child succeed, do their best, and to see past what most people might see in them. 

We need to find coaches for our kids that:

  • see their hearing as a part of who they are, not as a setback, annoyance, or disturbance. 
  • are willing to adapt to our kids, and help them believe in themselves and beyond. 
  • are willing to provide additional resources, support, and supplementary materials, whether that’s videos, reading, or extra practice. 
  • clearly love the sport, and from there will want that love to be instilled and ignited in the child too, hearing loss or not. 

Our biggest takeaways as parents in terms of sports and hearing loss are that no matter how others see our kids, whether for good or bad, coaches are key people in our kids’ lives, and there is a certain level of expectation we can have of them. When they drop below that line, we can:

  • speak up confidently to the coaches, showing them what we need, how to use equipment, and teaching them how to effectively communicate with our kids. 
  • teach our kids to advocate for themselves in our absence, teaching our kids that they belong there, and so does their hearing. If they can’t hear instructions, speak up. If they notice their coaches are not wearing the equipment, say something. 
  • go as a family to the head managers and team leaders and advocate for our children and their needs when needed. 

We are so grateful for the “Matts” who support the deaf and hard of hearing community and see our kids as treasures, fighters, and talented individuals, because they truly are. And for the coaches who are not yet seeing our kids this way, we know we have tools, a voice, and avenues to take to ensure our hard of hearing kids are given that green light and open door to a wonderful and successful sports career, however long they choose, and for whatever sports they choose; the sky’s the limit!

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Learning Together About How to Advocate!

By Teresa Kazemir

Our son, Jesse, is hard of hearing and uses hearing aids. Growing up, he had good support services throughout his education – but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t the occasional hiccup. 

Jesse used an FM system (also known as a remote microphone system or DM system) in school to allow him to hear the teacher over the noise of the classroom. Overall his teachers were very willing to use this equipment, as they understood it was one of several adaptations that helped to give Jesse fair access in the school setting. 

When Jesse was in middle school, however, he encountered a problem with one of his teachers. It was a slow build up to the actual event. Jesse was a bright student, very engaged in learning, but he wasn’t the best at remembering things, and that included remembering to bring his FM system from one class to the next. (The challenge of remembering things turned out to be due to unidentified ADHD, but that’s another story for another day!)

The students didn’t change rooms for every class in middle school, but they did move from one room to another at least a couple of times each day. And almost every day, Jesse would arrive at this one teacher’s classroom without his FM system. At some point, he or one of his classmates would realize he was missing his FM, and he’d ask the teacher if he could go to get it. This went on day after day, and the teacher didn’t understand that there was an underlying reason why Jesse had so much difficulty remembering. He also didn’t understand that it was Jesse’s fundamental right to access what was going on in the classroom. And so one day, when Jesse asked to go get his FM system, his teacher said no. Jesse then rolled his eyes at the teacher, who proceeded to call him lazy and send him out to the hall. 

Needless to say, when Jesse came home from school that day and told me this story, I was ready to march right up to the school and have a word or two with this teacher (who wasn’t one of my favourites to start with) and the principal and the Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and anyone else who would listen. I couldn’t believe that a teacher would call our hard-working, kind, well-behaved son “lazy”, and I also knew it was totally unacceptable to deny him equipment that enabled him to access what was being said in the classroom. 

However, Jesse did not want me to go to the school and get involved – he knew the teacher was wrong to call him a name and deny him his FM system, but he also recognized that the teacher was likely frustrated with him and he shouldn’t have rolled his eyes. He didn’t want his mom getting in the middle of something between him and his teacher. Luckily for me, Jesse did feel OK about me talking to his Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, whom we both trusted, so I called her and explained the situation. We agreed she would talk with Jesse and the school team the next day, and we’d proceed from there. 

The following day Jesse came home from school looking very happy. He told me he’d been called into the principal’s office, to meet with the principal, his Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the classroom teacher. They had discussed the situation as a group, and Jesse was told he would not be denied his FM system in future, even if he forgot. Jesse apologized to the teacher for rolling his eyes, and the teacher apologized to him for calling him lazy and not letting him get his equipment. Jesse was most pleased that his teacher, an adult in a position of power, had apologized to him, a kid!

We all learned some things from this experience. The teacher got a little more education on the importance of access for students who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.  Jesse came away feeling empowered, and really understanding that he had the right to advocate for himself – and also that rolling one’s eyes was probably not the best way to go about it. And I learned that advocating behind the scenes, leaning on our support people within the system, can sometimes yield the best results.

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2024 AGM & ‘Ask Us Anything’ Parent Connect Evening

WHO:BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Join us at our Annual General Meeting as we share our achievements over the past year and learn about exciting plans ahead. We’ll start with a short AGM and then use the rest of our time for our “Ask Us Anything” event, Join Board Members, Guide By Your Side parents and DHH adults as we discuss a variety of topics related to raising well-adjusted deaf/hard of hearing children who can reach their full potential!
Did you know – BC H&V celebrated our 15 year anniversary last year? Our team of board members and Guides have years of lived experience as DHH individuals or parents of DHH kids.  This is a great opportunity to ask your questions and learn from one another to feel  empowered, gain knowledge and advocacy skills, expand your perspectives, and feel more optimistic.
Parents and professionals, members and non-members are all welcome. ASL Interpreters will be provided
WHEN: Monday March 11, 2024 7:00pm-9:00pm
WHERE: online via Zoom
CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: http://tinyurl.com/dtcfx9he

Download our full flyer here: AGM 3.2024 (11 x 8.5 in)

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Empowering Futures: How Father Involvement Impacts DHH Children

By Kim Shauer

I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Rashaun Davis at the recent Hands & Voices conference. Among his many credentials Rashaun is a very involved father to a daughter who is deaf/hard of hearing. He spoke about how many dads today are engaged, interested and more present than ever before. But he noticed there were not a lot of African American parents and very few fathers who were involved in the development of their deaf and hard of hearing children. He acknowledged that modern-day fathers come in various forms (single, married, gay, straight, adoptive or step-parent) and are more than capable caregivers. He suggested we need more of them onboard because (for those families which include fathers), these fathers can play an important role in the development and well being of their deaf and hard of hearing children.
A comment that has stayed with me is that there are Rashauns in all our communities, and we don’t know the impact they will have until we include them at the table and provide connection opportunities that support the involvement of fathers.

Here are some of the benefits of fathers being actively engaged in the lives of their deaf and hard of hearing babies and children, with an emphasis on the role of specialized services to empower fathers and their children to reach their full potential. 

Strong Relationships

Fathers who actively engage with their deaf or hard of hearing children forge stronger emotional bonds. Establishing a foundation of trust, love, and communication is essential for a child’s overall development and fathers who create this environment early offer children a secure feeling of support. 

Language and Communication Skills

Fathers who are committed to contributing to the language acquisition and communication skills of their children, whether it is learning and using sign language or other communication modalities, not only aid the child in developing language skills but also foster a sense of inclusion and understanding within the entire family.

Positive Social Development

Fathers are encouraged to engage in social interactions by participating in activities, and providing exposure to diverse environments to help children build confidence and navigate social situations. Fathers serve as role models, demonstrating resilience, coping skills and adaptability in various social settings promoting positive social development in their children.

Educational Support and Advocacy

Fathers actively involved in their child’s education positively impact academic success. They play a crucial role in advocating for their child’s needs within the educational system, ensuring access to appropriate resources and support services. Collaborating with teachers, administrators, and specialists, parent involvement contributes to a more inclusive and supportive learning environment.

Services & Events for Fathers

Recognizing the importance of fathers’ involvement, we want to encourage the many organizations which offer specialized services to support dads in their journey, through opportunities such as parenting workshops, sign language classes and peer support groups where fathers can share experiences, challenges, and successes to help foster a sense of community and understanding. Early intervention programs have offered a variety of these opportunities through the years, so it’s important to let service providers know what works for your family.

For example, BC Hands & Voices recently offered a “Dad’s Panel” event on Zoom where fathers from around the province shared their experiences on a variety of topics including their reactions to learning about their baby’s hearing difference, the support they received from other parents and the Deaf community and needing to make themselves vulnerable in order to connect with other dads. It was interesting to learn how they received support, and some of the fathers openly discussed working on their own mental health (which sometimes involved unlearning the way they were brought up such as keeping their feelings inside). If you are not sure how to start a conversation with another dad, just start by asking about their kids or what they like to do together. It was clear all the fathers  loved sharing about their fantastic kids and how far they have come since the early days of the unknown! 

The impact of fathers in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing children is immeasurable. From emotional bonds and language development to academic success and emotional resilience, fathers play a vital role in shaping their child’s future. Access to specialized services further empowers fathers to navigate the unique challenges that may arise. As we celebrate the importance of fathers, we will continue to champion initiatives that support fathers in creating a world where their deaf and hard of hearing children can reach their full potential. Through love, understanding, and engagement, fathers are key in helping to build the bright futures of their children.


References: The Intersection of Fatherhood and Culture presentation, Dr. Rashun Davis, Professor, Delaware State University, Hands & Voices board member 

“Fathering a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Child” – Resource Developed in 2022 by the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Parent to Parent Committee – https://handsandvoices.org/virtual-waiting-room/docs/P2P_DadsChecklist.pdf 

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Embracing Unity and Empowerment: The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association Summer Camp

By Rabab Elbaharia

Rabab Albaharia

In the world of parenting, it is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. This sentiment is especially true when you are raising a child with a hearing difference. Families facing this challenge can greatly benefit from finding their own support networks and communities. Among many events supporting deaf and hard of hearing children, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (CHHA) Summer Camp stands as a shining example of such a community. For families with hard of hearing children, this annual event is more than just a camp; it’s a lifeline, an opportunity to learn, grow and connect. It offers parents a  unique opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another. The camp becomes the ideal platform for creating a strong support system, as it brings families with similar challenges together, creating a sense of belonging and unity.

At the heart of this summer camp is a focus on empowering the children with hearing differences. The camp staff is dedicated to boosting the confidence of these young individuals through various activities. A special talent show serves as a platform for the children to showcase their abilities, emphasizing self-expression and self-confidence. The camp also places a strong emphasis on team building activities. These activities not only foster collaboration but teach the children important life skills. A unique aspect of the camp is the opportunity to practice hearing advocacy skills. Camp staff ensure that children understand how to optimize their access to sound, using microphones and teaching strategies to reduce background noise. These skills are taught in a fun and engaging way, making learning a joyful experience.

One of the most remarkable features of the camp is its inclusive approach that involves the entire family. The camp experience extends beyond the hard of hearing child; it impacts their siblings and parents. It offers a chance for siblings with typical hearing to be immersed in their sister or brother’s community, educating them about the value of diversity and respect, while fostering empathy and understanding. This unique opportunity for the whole family to come together and share in the camp’s experiences strengthens the familial bonds and reinforces the message that differences should be celebrated, not stigmatized.

The CHHA Summer Camp has become a cherished tradition for many families. They eagerly anticipate the annual event, knowing that it is not just a fun escape from their daily routines but a vital component of their support system. The connections forged during these camps create a network of individuals who understand and support each other. The camp is a reminder that, as parents, it’s our duty to find our village, and the camp is one heartwarming village to be a part of. We hope to see you at the CHHA Summer camp next year, where new memories and friendships will continue to be forged in the spirit of unity and empowerment.

For more information about the CHHA summer camp please visit: https://chha-bc.org/

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Unilateral Hearing- Parent Connect Evening

WHO:BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Join us for a special parent night specifically for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in one ear. Lisa Cable (an adult with unilateral hearing) will team up with BC H&V board member parents to lead our evening and share experiences. This is a great chance to get together and learn from other parents. It will be an informal evening with lots of opportunity to ask questions and share information.
WHEN: Wednesday January 24, 2024 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: online via Zoom
CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: http://tinyurl.com/mut2ypce

Download our full flyer here: Unilateral 1.24.2024

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Feed Your Curiosity with a DHH Mentor

Written by: Monique Les


Those were the three foremost feelings that stirred in my heart when I attended Leeanne and Dane Seaver’s presentation during the 2023 Hands and Voices Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The presentation was titled “From LEGOs to Letting Go: How a Deaf Mentor Changed Our Family”, and the one word that caught my attention was LEGOs. I am a Hard of Hearing mother of three young children, so LEGO is a big theme in our house! However, with my Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) mentor hat on, I stepped into the room thinking that it was going to be a typical family conversation about how they met their Deaf mentor.

What a surprise I was in for!

Leeanne and her son Dane actually BROUGHT in Henri Grau, their Deaf mentor, whom Leeanne had met during the early days of her son’s diagnosis. I was under the impression that it would be a mother-and-son presentation, with a chat about their Deaf mentor. To physically witness Henri’s presence and place within their family made a marked impression on me.

Apparently, Henri did not even seek to be a mentor in the first place! He had simply showed up at Leeanne’s place of work for a job interview in telecommunications and unexpectedly got “roped” (their words, not mine!) into their journey of navigating her son’s deafness. Talk about a chance encounter in the right time and place.

As the conversation progressed, you could see just how much their lives had been transformed by their Deaf mentor. Henri’s natural willingness to immerse himself into the Seaver family was inspiring, and the fact that the family was able to embrace him as another family member – even having him over for Thanksgiving, Christmas and road trips – is extraordinary. Dane had someone to teach and expose him to ASL, a gift in its own right, but the Seavers also had someone in their lives who was successful in navigating his own journey and who could serve as a beacon of hope that everything was going to be ok. 

It was incredibly touching to see that Dane and Henri were kindred spirits, and to see the joy that came from Dane’s mother’s eyes in knowing that he had access to language, community and a sense of purpose. As a mother (even though my children do not have hearing loss), I know what every parent desires for their children – to be happy. I realize that now as an adult when I reflect on the decisions that my parents made for me, with limited resources. When I was young (the 1980s), access to information was different. My parents wanted me to be integrated into our “hearing” family and into mainstream society (their world), navigating oral communication as best as I could. I remember asking them why they never exposed me to ASL. Their response was that ASL was always considered the backup option, in case oral communication was not the right approach. The power of decisions! Nowadays, that decision is more fluid than it was decades ago.

In the case of the Seaver family, when Leeanne and her husband (Tom) learned that they would have to navigate the family’s communication needs, they were willing to explore – even though it was not the life they had originally envisioned. As Leeanne said so beautifully “it was the life we were meant to have”. It’s like that line from Forrest Gump, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” As a DHH mentor myself, I remind myself that each family is like a box of chocolates. Every family is different. Every child is different. Every dynamic is different. Every decision is different. It is the differences that make life wonderful…and interesting!

An open mind, and an open heart had led the Seavers to Henri – who made connections with their son through LEGO. As with most children, LEGO is a hidden world waiting to be explored! Dane’s world was opened though the initial connection of play. Play is such an underrated activity, and throughout the presentation I felt myself remembering all the times that my parents played with me. If you have a little one at home, play with them – even if you’re not sure if you’re making an impact. Henri’s consistency in playing LEGO with Dane created visual access to language. In self-reflection, my childhood ‘play’ was making meals in my toy kitchen – often bringing fabulous ‘dishes’ to my parents and extended family. The language of love, laughter and joy can be expressed in a unique way through play. In my humble opinion, it is a solid foundation in which parents, extended family members and other people in your child’s life can connect on a developmental and emotional level. It all adds up, and it all matters.

Upon leaving the conference room, I was left reminiscing all the times my parents sought out DHH adults during my early years. I still remain in contact with many of them, particularly as a sounding board (because… even my own parents sometimes just don’t “get” some things about being DHH!). Make those valuable connections early on. The simple act of connecting with other DHH adults/families is worth it. You have all to gain and nothing to lose – as you’ll be left with the hope that everything is going to be ok.

You’d be surprised how willing DHH adults are to share their journey! Many parents were actually quite shy to approach me during the conference, out of fear or uncertainty – perhaps? I encourage you to seek them out. Ask. Feed your curiosity, even if it’s still ongoing 30-something years later.

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New to the Journey-Parent Connect Night

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 Monday November 26th.
WHEN: Monday December 4, 2023 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: online via Zoom
CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/48jy9yx9

Download our flyer here: NewJourney12.4.2023

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Dads Panel-Parent Connect Night on Zoom

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Come join us on Zoom for an evening of insightful conversation with some of the dads in our community! Joining our panel for this event will be DHH Adults or parents of children who are dhh. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from these dads about their experiences and ask questions.
All are welcome-not just dads! ASL Interpreters will be provided.
WHEN: Wednesday November 29, 2023 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: online via Zoom
CONTACT/INFO: Please register here: https://tinyurl.com/mr3v9tmk


Download our Flyer here:Dad’s Panel 11.29.2023

Posted in Coffee Night, Events, Families to Families | Comments Off on Dads Panel-Parent Connect Night on Zoom
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