Summer Get-Together 2024

Come out for a fun afternoon with other families with dhh children! (Please note this event is geared to 7 years and under) Look for the orange & blue balloons! (Parking lot closest to splash pad is at Beta Ave & Dundas Street.)
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.
Please check your email and our FB (https://www.facebook.com/handsandvoicesBC) page on the day of as this is a weather dependent event.
WHEN: Saturday August 17, 2024 11:00am-2:00pm
WHERE: Confederation Park, Burnaby (Enter Confederation Park Water Park in your maps app)
CONTACT/INFO: Space is limited, please register here: https://tinyurl.com/sj7px54f

Download our flyer here: BCHV SGT 8.17.2024

Posted in Events | Comments Off on Summer Get-Together 2024

Hands & Voices Latino Council Meeting ‘Raising a Multicultural DHH Child’

Written by Catherine Kalchbrenner

I recently had the privilege of attending a Hands & Voices ‘Latino Council’ meeting. The topic for the evening was “ Raising a Multicultural DHH (Deaf/Hard of Hearing) Child”. Although the event used the lens of Latin American families, the ideas shared can be applied to any culture or language. I’ll share some of the speaking points, along with my own experiences raising a dhh child as an immigrant who came to Canada as a young child. 

The panelists were Latin American parents from all over the US and with many different Central and South American backgrounds. They had children with varying hearing levels, modes of communication and identities. The panelists shared how challenging it is to parent children while walking the line of Latino and American; that there isn’t one correct way to do this. We’re all just doing the best we can. 

The speakers acknowledged that sometimes families are needing to navigate learning English and at times ASL (also in an English context). Overcoming language barriers, culture adaptations, and system navigation are just some of the challenges facing new immigrant families. The panel made some excellent suggestions and gave some great advice.

  • We need to start with ourselves, we need complete acceptance of our amazing kids as they are. They are not defined by their hearing levels and will be limitless if we guide them as such.
  • Expose our children to all languages! Spanish and ASL/English from the start. If we have multiple languages, expose them to all of them as soon as we can.
  • Celebrate ALL the holidays. From both our home country and our new country. Culture is not only language, it’s in our food and traditions. Holidays are important.
  • Find our cultural community in our new home. Take our children to events put on by those communities. 
  • The language others use about our children matters! In Latino culture there’s a tendency to “Pobrecito/Pobrecita” /“Oh poor little!” or “El problema que tiene tu hijo”/”The problem your child has with their hearing”. We need to correct and educate! And watch the language that’s being used about our kids and around our kids! 
  • In many cultures it’s not acceptable to talk back/correct our elders but we absolutely need to. We need to educate them in gentle and consistent ways. We need to speak up and set boundaries. 
  • Read/Sign books in both languages. Bilingual books are available in many libraries.
  • Expose our children to music from our home country, let them feel the rhythms and beats of their culture’s music! It’s yet another way to share our culture with them.
  • Seek out elders/families that speak/use both languages. Ask for their advice. 
  • Language is an important way to pass on our culture- we need to speak our native language to our children and not shy away from it. 
  • Other languages allow us to express ourselves in different ways! It’s important! For me personally I know that who I am when I speak Spanish is a bit different than who I am in English- giving our children more tools to express themselves is always a great idea. In their own time, they will choose which tools feel best to them. 
  • Remember that everything you can teach a child with spoken language can be taught in ASL. As with any language, if you aren’t a native user of that language, it will require more effort, but it’s always possible. 

My own views as a Canadian Latina parent of a dhh child have shifted over the years; times have changed and what I believed as a new mom isn’t  the same as what I believe now. I wish I’d exposed my child to even more languages sooner and more often.  My identity as a Latina has grown and with it my yearnings for more connections to my birth country and culture, and wanting to deeply share that with my kids. My own advice to those just starting on this road of raising a multicultural dhh child is to sign, speak, laugh, eat and love in the language you feel your truest self in. Start with that language and work from there! Be bold and unafraid and remember that any language, visual or spoken, is a gift to our kids! We are not only providing ways for them to communicate, but also a path that will allow a connection to their culture(s) and self-identity in the diverse cultural realms they navigate.

 

For more information:

Hands & Voices Latino Council- https://handsandvoices.org/about/latino-council.html

Kids Care Canada has a few videos about learning multiple languages including ASL:  https://kidcarecanada.org/playlists/language-development/

Resources in Spanish- https://handsandvoices.org/resources/espanol/index.htm

FOR READERS IN THE UNITED STATES:
Request for Advocacy Form- https://handsandvoices.org/astra/span-request-form.html

Posted in Articles, Families to Families | Comments Off on Hands & Voices Latino Council Meeting ‘Raising a Multicultural DHH Child’

FAMILIES TOGETHER- 中文 (Chinese)

Register here: www.fndc.ca/familiestogether

FamilesTogether 2024_sc

FamilesTogether 2024_tc

Posted in Articles, Events, Simplified Chinese 简体中文, Traditional Chinese 繁體中文 | Comments Off on FAMILIES TOGETHER- 中文 (Chinese)

FAMILIES TOGETHER

WHO:BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, Family Network for Deaf Children, Deaf Youth Today
WHAT: Plan to join us on the morning of Saturday, June 8th for this event bringing families with deaf/hard of hearing children together to play and socialize. An event for all ages.
There is a soft play area for little ones under 2 years, a climbing area with multiple slides for those over 3, a small indoor climbing wall and laser tag for those over 8. More info to come!
This event is a wonderful opportunity to mix & mingle with other families with kids of all ages and with youth/young adults who are deaf/hard of hearing.
WHEN: Saturday June 8, 9:00am-11:00am
WHERE: Fun Circle Indoor Playground – 15355 Fraser Hwy #102, Surrey
CONTACT/INFO: email brianne@fndc.ca and register here: www.fndc.ca/familiestogether

Download the flyer here: FamilesTogether 2024

Posted in Babies, Events, Families to Families | Comments Off on FAMILIES TOGETHER

September 2024: “Weaving the Threads of Leadership”

By Lisa Cable

The BC Hands & Voices Chapter is so excited to be co-hosting this year’s Annual Hands & Voices Annual Leadership Conference.  We will be co-hosting along with the Washington Chapter and it will be held from September 20th to 22nd in Spokane, Washington. 


This annual conference is an opportunity for leaders, volunteers, parents and professionals from the H&V and DHH communities to gather together and learn from one another.  It’s a great chance to meet people from all over North America and to share experiences and knowledge with one another.  

I had the privilege to attend as a board member in 2022 when the conference was hosted by the New York Chapter.  It was a weekend filled with workshops, panel discussions, social events and connecting with other parents and board members.  On paper, many of the people I met are incredibly different from me.  They live in a different country, have different backgrounds and life experiences and different world views.  However, we all shared one thing in common – a passion to support and serve our DHH community and our families in meaningful ways.  And that alone was enough to create some wonderful connections. 

This year’s theme is “Weaving the Threads of Leadership”. We’re excited about the workshops and presentations that are being prepared for the conference in September.  I encourage you to check out the website for more information HERE.

We would love to have you join us if you can!   

Posted in Articles, Events | Comments Off on September 2024: “Weaving the Threads of Leadership”

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!

Posted in Advocacy, Articles, Families to Families | Comments Off on On the Mat and on the Field – Tips for Navigating Sports with Your Deaf/Hard of Hearing Children

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

Posted in Coffee Night, Deaf Culture, DHH Guides, Events | Tagged , | Comments Off on Learning from DHH Adults- Parent Connect Evening

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.

Posted in Advocacy, Articles, Families to Families | Comments Off on Learning Together About How to Advocate!

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)

Posted in Administration, Coffee Night, DHH Guides, Events | Comments Off on 2024 AGM & ‘Ask Us Anything’ Parent Connect Evening

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 

Posted in Articles, Babies, Families to Families | Comments Off on Empowering Futures: How Father Involvement Impacts DHH Children
    Sign Up for Our eNewsletter!
  • H&V Mission (ASL)

  • Guide By Your Side Program (ASL)

  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

    We at H&V are looking within ourselves and within the organization to do better in supporting Black lives Matter. Learn more HERE.

  • Upcoming Events

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories