Our Experience with Early Intervention

By Joe Zhang and Kelly Lv

Our son Leo was born in Vancouver. He did not pass the newborn hearing screening test and we were very overwhelmed because this was a total shock. A few weeks later, Leo did not pass the ABR test either, and the audiologist showed us the audiology report, so we could see the “banana shape” and which frequencies were affected. Honestly, we were frustrated, overwhelmed and sad at that moment. The audiologist was kind to comfort us and gave us contact information to follow up.

We connected with an Intervention Coordinator through the BC Early Hearing Program, who referred to us a few organizations and people to follow up with.

We reached out to the organizations which offer early intervention in BC to learn about their programs. We were able to see the centres and talk with professionals who walked us through the process and resources to support Leo, and the overall roadmap from baby, infant, toddler to preschooler and finally to the education system. We learned about the types of services each program offered, so we could choose the organization that was the best fit for our family. We were also told about some successful stories of alumni, which comforted us a lot.

We attended a family connect event held at one of the centres, and participated in the Coffee Nights held by BC Hands & Voices, where we connected with other families.

We also reached out to the Guide By Your Side Program and were connected with both a Parent Guide and a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Guide. Both gave us lots of valuable information, resources and experiences to support Leo. We felt very motivated and encouraged. At this point, we accepted the fact that Leo is hard of hearing and got down to work on helping him to grow and learn.

Leo has been a good user of hearing aids since he was 3 months old, and we decided that the Listening and Spoken Language approach would be the best match for him and for our family.  Over the past 4 years, we have worked with several  specialized Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, who educated and empowered us to be Leo’s primary support and advocate, so he could learn and integrate into the hearing world.

We worked with the Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing closely, focusing on family goals outlined in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), and helped Leo reach his fullest listening and spoken language potentials. For example, we read books in our most fluent language, have daily circle time at home, attend library events like baby story-time, family story-time, and participate in a variety of age-appropriate activities at the community centers. We treat Leo as a typical kid and do our best to develop his full capabilities. We don’t want him to be limited by his hearing challenges, so we try to expose him to a variety of different activities, experiences and topics.

Now Leo is close to the age of 5 and he is ready to go to kindergarten this September. He is curious, inquisitive, energetic and compassionate. He is doing multiple sports including skating, gymnastics and soccer. We are proud of him for all of the progress he has made!

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Fun Family Picnic 2023

See PDF flyer here: 2023 picnic flyer
PDF Flyer in Traditional Chinese (繁體中文): 2023 picnic flyer_tc
or in Simplified Chinese (简体中文): 2023 picnic flyer_sc

An Event for deaf/hard of hearing, deaf blind children, their siblings and parents. We also welcome  Deaf/Hard of Hearing parents and their children (CODA).
It’s free – but you need to RSVP before June 9th: https://www.fndc.ca/familypicnic

WHEN: Saturday June 17th, 10:30 am to 2:00 pm

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

We will provide:
•Hotdog 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 picnic lunch for your family
• lawn chairs or blanket to sit on

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

Hosted by:
Deaf Youth Today
Family Network for Deaf Children
Provincial Family Services
BC Early Hearing Program
Guide By Your Side
BC Hands and Voices
CHHA BC Youth Peer Support Program

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June 7, 2023 (Wednesday) 7–9pm

human rights talk – 简体中文 (Simplified Chinese)
欢迎参加,此 Zoom 网上讲座费用全免。讲者使用英语,设有普通话即时传译
报名或查询,请电邮 Amy Ho amyho@bchandsandvoices.com
亦可使用 WhatsApp 或微信与 Amy 联系
WhatsApp: +1 604 351 6013
微信: amyhocanada

human rights talk- 繁體中文 (Traditional Chinese)
歡迎參加,此 Zoom 網上講座費用全免。講者使用英語,設有國語即時傳譯
報名或查詢,請電郵 Amy Ho amyho@bchandsandvoices.com
亦可使用 WhatsApp 或微信與 Amy 聯繫
WhatsApp: +1 604 351 6013
微信: amyhocanada

Posted in Advocacy, Events, Simplified Chinese 简体中文, Traditional Chinese 繁體中文 | Comments Off on HUMAN RIGHTS BASICS- 中文 (Chinese)

Family Movie Night

WHO: BC Hands & Voices & Guide By Your Side
WHAT: Join us for a fun pizza & movie night and connect with other families with deaf/hard of hearing children and their siblings. We’ll be showing “Shaun the Sheep”! This event is suitable for children up to about 10 years old. We will provide pizza and drinks for dinner. Wear your favourite pajamas, bring your floor mats, pillows & a stuffed animal! Parents are responsible for their own children. ASL interpreters will be available. A donation of $10/family at the door is kindly suggested.
WHEN: Friday May 12, 2023 6:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: BC Family Hearing Resource Society – 15220 92 Ave, Surrey, BC V3R 2T8
RSVP: https://tinyurl.com/3brjyu2v Space is limited!

Download our flyer here: FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT 5.12.2023

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Planning for Hearing Technology Upgrades & Services

By Catherine Kalchbrenner

When a child ages out of Early Intervention it may become necessary to pay for device upgrades, accessories or services on our own. With improvements in technology and wear and tear on devices, upgrading is generally recommended every few years.  Early Intervention services (Speech Language Pathologists, Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Sign Language Instructors, Deafblind Consultants etc.) will have given your child and family a great start, but sometimes we choose to pay privately for additional services. Paying out of pocket can be challenging!

Some tips and things to consider:

  • The BC Early Hearing Program (BCEHP) provides supplemental funding for early language services. Hearing equipment is tailored to the baby’s needs such as funding for the first set of hearing aids for children under five years of age, earmolds and batteries are funded for three years or until the child turns five, whichever comes first. For more information, see the BCEHP Parent Resource Guide: http://www.phsa.ca/bc-early-hearing/Documents/BCEHP-ParentResourceGuide.pdf
  • You may be eligible to receive the disability tax credit: (www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/dsblty-eng.html) – There are certain criteria one must meet and the application process is quite involved but is definitely worth looking into.
  • If it is possible for you to do, you may want to put aside some money each month to pay for future repairs and replacements of hearing devices. If that is not financially possible, consider researching potential charity funding sources (see list near bottom of page).
  • Provincial Deaf Hard of Hearing Services begins providing their services in the year your child starts Kindergarten and includes American Sign Language instruction and Family Navigators: Deaf & Hard of Hearing – Province of British Columbia (gov.bc.ca)
  • The Deaf Well-Being Program funds some mental health services for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and DeafBlind people of all ages, and their family members in BC: Home – VCH Deaf Well Being
  • Check to see if your employer’s extended health plan pays for hearing aids or cochlear implant upgrades. In some cases hearing aid batteries can be purchased and covered as “medical equipment”. The coverage is often limited, but it can help.
  • Some extended health plans pay for certain specialists such as Speech Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Psychologists.
  • If your child has additional medical or support needs and qualifies for At Home Program or Autism funding, a variety of therapies, equipment and devices may also be covered. 

There are also some possible charity funding sources for families in BC. Eligibility may depend on family income, and the criteria of these groups may change over time, but it can be worth looking into: 

Do you know of any others? Please get in touch with us so we can keep this list up to date!

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“Ask Away Tuesdays”

By Monique Les, Joy Gong and Tara Dyck

“Ask Away Tuesdays” started in late 2022, when Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHH) Guides
Monique, Joy and Tara recognized the need for parents to have a space to ask anything
that might be on their minds! The three most common questions they get are answered
below, to give you a taste of their diverse answers.

How can we (parents) support our DHH child’s self esteem/confidence?
Monique: Each time parents ask us how they can best support their child in developing
a healthy self image of themselves, my first answer is, as parents YOU are your child’s
first role model. If adults around a DHH child have a positive, healthy and realistic
attitude, then chances are your child will demonstrate that outlook as they grow.

Joy: It’s helpful to have them participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports,
arts, or music. Allowing them to have that space to foster and develop skillsets in those
activities will help build their confidence and self-esteem along the way. When
explaining or letting other people know about your child’s deaf/hard of hearing needs
and accommodations, it’s helpful for parents to use positive language around supporting
their child.

Tara: Honestly – the same as you would support your hearing child’s self
esteem/confidence! Focus on strengths. Identify what brings them joy and then build
responsibilities/activities around this. Encourage/empower them to do things
independently, i.e. colour/draw; do chores; order at a cafe/restaurant; open a bank
account; save money; join a sports club/team. Be creative and have fun!

The only thing I may emphasize with a Deaf/HH child is to make sure they *SEE* you
(and others) praising them. And, make sure that your Deaf/HH child understands that
you are praising them, that you are proud of them. Communication plays a big role in
this. Be sure that both you and your Deaf/HH child can understand each other, whether
it be in sign language, spoken language, or both.

Hand clapping is sound based whereas the American Sign Language (ASL) hand
wave is more visual. Give the ASL hand wave a try! Wave and twist both hands in the
air! (This is how you do it: https://www.signasl.org/sign/hand-wave) I loved it when
my hearing parents did this when they were proud of me.

What is considered rude/inappropriate when trying to get my DHH child’s
M: I found this to be the most interesting question to date in our “Ask Away Tuesday”
sessions. It really made me think! One of the things that distinctly comes to mind are
family events or situations where a joke is being said, and I didn’t catch it… to which I’d ask “What happened?” A simple “Never mind, I’ll tell you later” is both rude and hurtful.
It diminishes our presence, and feels like exclusion.

J: When trying to get your DHH child’s attention, a gentle tap on the shoulder or a light
waving of the arms will help, or getting the person closest to your child to help you.
What I found rude, for myself, were sharp, aggressive taps or big, extreme arm waving
that would draw attention from the whole room, or yelling from another person to get my

T: Teach your DHH child what is respectful and kind and that they deserve to be treated
with respect and kindness too. Have a discussion with them about what helps others to
get their attention and then encourage them to communicate to others what they prefer
(i.e. gentle pat on shoulder, switch lights on and off a couple of times) when they meet
them for the first time. It is NOT OK for others to scream or throw things to get your
child’s attention.

What memories do you have of times you felt challenged or bullied and your
parents supported your self-esteem/confidence?
M: One of the earliest memories that I have is my mom sending me to order my own
happy meal from McDonald’s. I was 7 years old, and still shy about using my ‘voice’ to
order. The first time I ordered it, they gave me a cheese burger, instead of chicken
nuggets. My mom sent me right back to the counter without her and said “You can do it,
just say that they gave you the wrong order”. That moment was THE moment when I
realized that I didn’t have to settle for less.

J: One of the most memorable phrases that my parents have said to me was “You’ll
never know unless you try”. To this day, whenever I have doubts or uncertainty, I carry
that phrase with me when I take on new challenges or try out new opportunities. Also, I
was involved in dance and piano lessons which I found were helpful in building my
self-esteem and confidence through constant practice and improvements with each
progression in new dance routines and music levels.

T: My parents saw that I loved swimming at a very early age and greatly supported this
interest. Qualifying for the youth nationals at age 12 was a huge self-esteem/confidence
booster. It was proof that I could do anything I put my heart into. And, importantly, that
being Deaf was not a barrier to (my) success. My parents were not ashamed that I was
Deaf. They always said, “You can do anything – being Deaf is not going to stop you from
doing anything”. The confidence they had in me in the first place is probably what
helped me to build confidence.

“Having parents who believed in me was the best.” – Tara Dyck

Join us for our next “Ask Away Tuesday” sessions, which run from 7-830pm on Zoom!
Captioning and ASL interpreters are available.
Please email Monique.Les@cw.bc.ca for the link.

Mark in your calendar the upcoming dates! They’d love to connect with you.
March 14, 2023
April 11, 2023
May 23, 2023
June 13, 2023

Posted in Articles, DHH Guides | Comments Off on “Ask Away Tuesdays”

2023 AGM & Parent Connect Evening ‘Keep Calm & Ask Us Anything’

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing Program
WHAT: We’ll begin with a brief 30 minute AGM, where we will share what BC Hands & Voices has accomplished over the past year. Then we’ll dive into our “Ask Me Anything” Session- hosted by your BC H&V board of parents and Deaf/Hard of Hearing adults. Some topics we will cover: travelling w/dhh kids, participating in sports & community activities, and building self esteem. All are welcome. Bring your own questions or just come to listen ASL Interpreters will be provided.
WHEN: Monday March 6, 2023 7:00pm-9:00pm
WHERE: Online – Link will be provided upon registration
CONTACT/INFO: Please register to receive Zoom information here: https://tinyurl.com/yszr28xn

Download our flyer here: AGM 3.6.2023

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Learning Sign Language- Four Ideas to Motivate and Engage Family Members

Author: Nora Maldonado

Oftentimes, when a child is diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing, there is an initial outpouring of enthusiasm from friends and relatives who want to learn ASL. It is novel, and people genuinely feel motivated to help by learning some sign. This can make new parents of a deaf or hard of hearing child feel elated, and excited; however, sometimes, when the proverbial dust settles, many people (however well intentioned) may not follow through with initial plans to learn. Life is busy, and learning a new language is no easy feat.

When our daughter was identified as deaf, we immediately started trying to forge connections with other deaf and hard of hearing individuals, and families. Inevitably this meant that our path diverged from the paths we had been sharing with other friends. However, we gained new friends, made new connections within the Deaf community, and we were lucky enough to have three or four family members who stuck with it, learned some ASL, and continue to do so. If you are lucky enough to have even one person in your life who is committed to learning ASL, the following are some ideas to help keep them motivated:

  1. Easy access to learning – in our case, it was our daughter’s grandparents and aunt that were committed to learning ASL. Initially, instead of just sending them the link to a class, we signed them up ourselves, and set them up with the Zoom calls every week. This made it easy for them to participate. This was much more forward than I would usually be, but in our case, this initial push was well worth it, as it got my daughter’s grandparents and aunt started – which can sometimes be the hardest part!
  2. Praise – we recognize that learning a second (or third!) language is very difficult. We make a special effort to recognize and praise their efforts, always stopping to remind them how much this opens up our daughter’s world, and how much it impacts their ability to have a relationship with her. 
  3. Reinforcement – before long, our daughter was understanding and responding to their signs. This was great reinforcement for them, as they could feel the progress they were making. We made a point of highlighting how our daughter was understanding them and this helped them come full circle, and understand the impact of learning ASL.
  4. Community events – from early on, we made the effort to invite our daughter’s grandparents to Deaf and Hard of Hearing community events. They were able to meet other families, and other grandparents that were also learning ASL. It made them feel included, and part of something larger than just the ASL classes. I think it was also important to our daughter to see her grandparents signing and interacting with her peers and their families. 

We can all appreciate the difficulty in learning a new language. Hopefully these tips will help you keep family and friends motivated and engaged if they have decided to learn ASL. 


Posted in Articles, Deaf Culture, Families to Families | Comments Off on Learning Sign Language- Four Ideas to Motivate and Engage Family Members

Growing Up with a DHH Sister with Additional Exceptionalities

By Kim & Ashley Shauer

Our daughter, Ashley, graduated from high school this year and we have enjoyed reminiscing about different aspects of her childhood together. 

Ashley was almost 3 years old when her sister, Julia, was born with a rare chromosome 15 duplication and many health concerns. After discharge from the NICU, we suddenly had numerous appointments with a large team of medical professionals and our calm, relaxed home had unexpectedly become a revolving door of service providers. While this provided a whirlwind of wonderful support, we naturally worried about how this upheaval may affect Ashley and her relationship with Julia.

Growing up with a deaf/hard of hearing sister with additional disabilities offers a unique perspective, so I was thrilled that Ashley was willing to share her experiences so far growing up as an “exceptional” sibling! 

KS – What was your relationship like with your sister when you were younger?

AS – When we were little, I loved to play school with her. We made forts (I was an expert fort maker). I taught her how to crawl and would clean the bedroom for us when we shared a room. Later on, we had a swing set and would swing beside each other and I would push her – she had an adaptive swing. When we got a trampoline, she would love laying on it while I bounced her – and she still does! She gives me the biggest smiles and hugs. When I would wake up at night, I would go in her room and wake her up and say hi. She would just go back to sleep and I don’t think you ever heard me on the monitor!

KS – I didn’t know that! How do you remember learning about Julia’s condition? I recall trying to keep information age-appropriate for you in the beginning, such as that she needs more help because her muscles are not as strong. 

AS – When I was younger you explained it to me, but I still can’t remember what it’s called! Something like, your sister was born with a rare condition that includes hearing loss and a variety of other things…mostly I remember that I loved to pick the colours and sparkles for the ear molds of her hearing aids. I was 4 so I usually picked pink & purple!

KS – We had received parenting advice about the importance of parents setting aside extra time for each child in a family, particularly when one needed more attention due to medical needs. I loved our evenings together after Julia went to bed.  

AS: I remember every night you would give me a piggy back ride upstairs. I know you did that for too long – till I was about 9 years old! I think that was one of the reasons we ended up moving – ha ha! I loved reading together before bed and talking about how our day was. 

KS: What are some of your favourite holiday memories?

AS: Going to Kelowna for Christmas, trick or treating at Grandma’s house, going to the Disney Hawaii resort for Julia’s Make-A-Wish Trip and staying in the cabin along the river in Manning Park – besides going camping or staying with family that felt like our first real family holiday. 

KS: What do you remember about the many appointments we had in Vancouver? 

AS: They would usually give me stickers and I could pick which one I wanted. I also remember we usually did something fun afterwards. We’d go to the Aquarium & Science world more than anyone else I knew!

KS: I was away with Julia periodically during different surgeries and hospital stays. What do you remember about some of those times? 

AS: You always explained why you were at the different doctors so I was never wondering what you were doing. I remember staying with Grandma and Grandpa. Sometimes I missed you guys when it was a long hospital stay but I liked going to my grandparents’ house. 

KS: When do you remember meeting other siblings who had brothers or sisters with some similar medical or support needs? Was it nice to know there were other families like ours?

AS: We would go to special events and do fun things with different organizations. At Zajac Ranch family camp, I remember playing with other kids, but we didn’t really think anything of it at that age, we just played. Later when Julia played Challenger Baseball, I went to the playground a couple times with another sibling.

KS: I remember you being so confident and proud of your sister when you were little and I took such strength from your positive attitude! You would notice people staring at Julia and sometimes I wouldn’t know the best way to react. One time when I didn’t know how to respond to someone, you took over, gave Julia a big hug, and while she smiled you said to the staring adult, “Isn’t she just the cutest baby in the world!” I still share that with other new parents.  

AS: Yes, people would be so weird sometimes when we were out.

KS: I remember when I was looking at Kindergarten placements for Julia, you really wanted your sister to go to your elementary school just as your friends had their siblings at the school. Did other kids at school ask you questions about Julia and how did you handle those situations?

AS: I don’t really remember kids asking me anything or not being nice. Many were quite interested and when the school started the Sign Language Club at lunch, lots of kids went. In grade 7 when friends were seated away from each other for talking too much, they would sign to each other so that was cool. They probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise. 

KS: Then when it came high school, neither you nor your friends wanted your younger siblings to go to your high school! I appreciated that you also shared with me that you just wanted to be your own person again, instead of being known as “Julia’s sister”. I remember one of your other concerns at the time was that you might get called out of your classes to help her and could miss important information. How did it work out? (Due to the pandemic we couldn’t look at other high school options so she did end up going to the same high school)

AS: It was fine. I was never called to help with anything. It’s a huge school so I actually rarely saw her!  

KS: How do you think having Julia as your sister has affected your personality?

AS: I’m patient, empathetic and less judgmental. I am probably more mature since I had to grow up a bit faster in some ways. I’m not selfish or bossy. I have more understanding of the disability community because we get it and those who aren’t, don’t get it. I’m a good observer, watching and making sense of sounds and non-verbal cues. I read Julia really well and understand her language.  

KS: You are one of her favourite people! What are your hopes for your sister for the future? What does she enjoy most in life? 

AS: She likes structure in her life and being with others. I hope she is happy and has fun daytime things to do that she enjoys.

KS: What are your plans and hopes for yourself for the future? 

AS: I will be going to university and plan to go into something that helps other people, not sure what that will be yet. I’m not sure how Julia has shaped that, I may have done that anyway. 

KS: This might be my favorite conversation! Is there anything else you would like to say or share with other families or siblings? Pieces of advice?

AS: Everything happens for a reason. Live the best life you can. 

Editor’s Note: It is with broken hearts that we share the news that sweet Julia passed away peacefully in the early hours of December 24, 2022. She will be dearly missed by her family and friends, as well as the many support providers and teachers who were lucky enough to work with her over the years. Julia’s life was short, but the impression she left on the lives of others will never be forgotten. 


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Lafarge Lake Christmas Lights Walk in partnership with Provincial Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (PDHHS)

In partnership with Provincial Family Services
Provincial Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (PDHHS)

After the business of the holidays, come and join us for a chance to connect with other families, walk around the lake, and enjoy beautiful lights! Hot chocolate will be provided. Our meeting spot will be at the Percy Perry Stadium near Lafarge Lake. More details on how to get to the stadium will be provided closer to the date.

There are no costs to attend the event. There is ample parking and a SkyTrain station (Lafarge Lake-Douglas) nearby.

When: Saturday January 7th, 2023
Time: 4:00 – 7:00pm
Location: 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
Registration: If you are interested in registering or would like further information, please email FS@gov.bc.ca

Download our flyer here: Lafarge Lake Event Winter 2023

Posted in Events, Families to Families | Comments Off on Lafarge Lake Christmas Lights Walk in partnership with Provincial Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (PDHHS)
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