Enjoying Stories as a Deaf Person

Written by Levi Traxler

I love stories. I love reading, even more so if it’s about fantasy or science. I remember reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings when I was in high school. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I do remember it was kind of hard to read at first, but it became easier the more I read. That is how I developed an appreciation for stories. I’m not much of a writer but at least I enjoy reading! I also get heavily invested in well-written stories in television and movies.

When I was young, my parents encouraged me to read, read, and read even more. It was challenging at first because I couldn’t hear the letters clearly so I had to work hard to understand the texts. At school, my Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing did a lot of stories and that got me hooked into reading. I kept trying to read books and if I couldn’t understand anything, I asked my parents or older sister what the sentences meant and they were always helpful. Whenever I got stuck, I found a way to break through and continue reading. 

Reading got easier and easier as I gained more experience reading a wide variety of books. Books from high school English class were hard to read but I learned that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this so I’ve accepted that not every book needs to be read or thoroughly enjoyed. I feel like the most important thing is to find out what kind of books you like to read and go from there. I love fantasies, science, mysteries, graphic novels and comedies.

If you want your child(ren) to enjoy reading, make it a fun activity for them and lead by example. I always saw my sister reading books in her spare time, and it motivated me to read more. My teachers encouraged me to talk about the books I’d read, and it helped me understand the books more too. Each child has their own preferences so it’s a great idea to expose them to different kinds of stories and books. Libraries are a great starting place for that.  It is also a great idea to get the child to act out stories and bring them to life. I am doing the same with my child by reading the books in ASL and getting him involved (What is this wolf doing? Why is he huffing and puffing?). By engaging children in stories, they are more interested and motivated to keep reading. Starting a love of reading at a young age is an important step in encouraging kids to become lifelong readers! 

Levi’s son having fun reading


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At the Table with BC Hands & Voices Presents: “DHH+ Additional Needs”

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side
WHAT: An online evening for parents and caregivers of deaf/hard of hearing children with additional medical and/or support needs to join together for conversation and connection. Parent Guides and BC Hands & Voices board members with experience raising amazing kids with a variety of extra conditions will be available to answer questions and provide information to help support our kids to reach their full potential.
Statistically, more than 40% of deaf/hard of hearing children are born with additional needs – so we are in good company!
WHEN: Tuesday November 8, 2022 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: Join us via Zoom from your favourite spot at home!

Download our flyer here: DHH+11.8.2022

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My Trip to the Hands & Voices Leadership Conference

By Lisa Cable

I was recently privileged to attend the Hands & Voices Leadership Conference in Fairfax, NY. This annual conference is an opportunity for representatives from Hands & Voices chapters across North America to come together, network and learn collectively. As a first-time attendee I was excited to take advantage of all the conference had to offer.  

Throughout the 3 day conference there were a wide variety of educational sessions to choose from. I had the opportunity to hear from a panel of leaders south of the border in Washington, Oregon & California talk about how they’ve teamed up to support one another and what they’ve learned along their journey. There were two other excellent panels as well: one composed of siblings of dhh kids and another of dads. Panels like these are always so enlightening as people speak from their hearts and give true insight into their unique perspectives.  

Sheila Moody from Western University in Ontario presented on behalf of her team about the value of parent-to-parent support and the research they’ve been doing to back up this important part of early intervention. There was also the opportunity to learn about different technologies, resources and programs that exist to better the lives of dhh children and their families. 

As with any conference there is so much learning from the speakers/panels but sometimes the most valuable learning comes from the sharing between attendees. I met such diverse people from Indiana, Illinois, Florida, California and everywhere in between! Sharing stories, comparing notes and finding commonalities in our lived experiences was invaluable to me – both as a leader in Hands & Voices but also as a parent of a dhh child.  

One final highlight of the conference was the visit and dinner at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester (NTID). We had a fabulous evening at the University, meeting the staff and learning about the school’s history and what it has to offer students. It was not an institution that I previously knew well, and I’m so glad I was able to learn more about it.  

Not only do H&V leaders attend this conference, but parents and professionals alike that are aligned with our interests. I encourage anyone that is interested to check out next year’s conference!

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All About My Hearing Aids

Local parent and H & V board member Rabab Elbaharia shares a book created by her daughter Salma. In Salma’s own words, “Hello… My name is Salma . I’m 8 years old. I identify as Hard of Hearing. I thought about the questions my friends and classmates frequently asked me and I decided to answer them in this book. Have a Joyful Reading!”

Please click on this link to access Salma’s book in PDF format: All About My Hearing Aids


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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.
Posted in Articles, Babies | Comments Off on Why is Social Emotional Learning/Development so Important? 

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


Posted in Articles | Comments Off on Hi, I am a Cardiac Surgeon and I am Hard of Hearing
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