Summer Get-Together 2017

Join us for a play day!

Whether it’s your first time coming to an event or you never miss a chance to socialize and catch up.

Tuesday, August 22nd 2017 11:00am – 2:00 pm Grimston Park 19th Street at 7th Avenue New Westminster (close to 22nd Street Skytrain Station)

Look for the orange & blue balloons!
ASL Interpreter Available

This park has a beautiful playground and wading pool. Bring a picnic lunch, swimwear, towels and blanket.

RSVP is not required, but please watch our Facebook page for notice of cancellation if it’s raining. Visit our Facebook Page & Website: Contact:

Summer Get Together Flyer

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How Do We Join the Deaf Community?

Author: Kim Shauer

This was a question asked at our recent Parent Coffee night and a question many other parents of deaf/hard of hearing (D/HH) children may also be wondering.  

BC Hands & Voices and Guide By Your Side (part of the BC Early Hearing Program) recently hosted a coffee night for parents featuring the topic of Deaf Culture & ASL. Parents had the opportunity to meet Christy Jeffery and Dan Braun, both Deaf role models who led the evening and shared some of their experiences growing up Deaf and using American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary language.

So – how do we join the Deaf Community? According to Dan and Christy – just show up! Come to an event and introduce yourself and your D/HH child. Christy and Dan reminded parents not to be discouraged even though there may be some curious looks by people wondering “who’s this new face?” Just say “Hello!” advised our guest presenters.

What seemed really special about the evening was that it was attended by parents of children with all hearing levels (bilateral and unilateral) and users of all types of hearing technology.  Many were curious about using ASL (some parents knew a lot already but for some parents ASL was brand new). All were reassured they would be welcomed into being involved in the Deaf community.  

Parents asked a lot of great questions throughout the evening such as “does our signing have to be perfect?” – a daunting question to ask these amazing signers! Their answer was not to worry so much about getting the signs right or wrong. When kids are young, many families (both with hearing and deaf children) have their own home signs and gestures (siblings as well). Parents don’t need to be perfect; communication back and forth is more important than a perfectly executed sign. Plus, don’t worry about what other people think! Give it a try and your child will end up leading the way eventually with what works for them.  

After the event, one family shared how meeting role models connected them to the Deaf Community:

“In our experience, the D/HH role models are warm and welcoming ambassadors of Deaf culture. They replace the fear of the unknown with the safety of community.” – Kurt Kuzminski

“I saw a total shift in my father after he had the opportunity to meet a Deaf role model. It was an important turning point for him and his understanding and acceptance of our daughter’s deafness.” – Sage Kuzminski

Thank you Christy and Dan for sharing such a positive message as always. We could have continued on for another hour or more I’m sure!  

Don’t miss the next opportunity to meet other families as well as D/HH Guides and role models at the summer get-together happening on Tuesday August 22 nd . Details can be found here:

If you are a parent of a D/HH child under five, are unable to come to an event, and would like to meet a D/HH Guide role model virtually over an app on your smart phone or computer to ask some of your own questions, email

Note from the Editor:
Parent Coffee nights happen approximately six times per year and cover a variety of topics. The last few have also been offered via a teleconference line and video conferencing for parents to call in and listen/participate, even if they live too far away or cannot attend in person. If you would like to be notified of upcoming events, please go to and click at the top right corner “Sign up for our Newsletter”.

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The Big Move- Traditional Chinese

By Anja Rosenke

The Big Move- Traditional Chinese

Link to English version

This translation was made possible with a generous donation of the Gwyn Morgan & Patricia Trottier Foundation.

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The Big Move- Simplified Chinese

By Anja Rosenke

The Big Move- Simplified Chinese

Link to English version

This translation was made possible with a generous donation of the Gwyn Morgan & Patricia Trottier Foundation.

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The Big Move- Punjabi

By Anja Rosenke

The Big Move- Punjabi Translation

Link to English version

This translation was made possible with a generous donation of the Gwyn Morgan & Patricia Trottier Foundation.

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Parent Coffee Night- Microtia/ Atresia Topic

Please join us for a special coffee night on Monday May 29th, 2017
Special Topic: Microtia/ Atresia
(Attend in person or Call-in Via Teleconference or online video conference if you live outside the Metro Vancouver area)

parent coffee

We are pleased to have two of our BC Hands & Voices members, Jesse Kazemir and Catherine Kalchbrenner. Jesse is an SFU student with bilateral microtia/ atresia and Catherine is the parent of a 6 year old with right-sided microtia/ atresia. This is a safe space to ask your questions and learn more to support your child.


Please join us in person for Lower Mainland parents. If you’re interested in the phone-in or webcam/ online option, please RSVP by May 25th so that we can provide you with the calling information.

WHEN: 7:30 – 9:00pm

WHERE: Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre, 3575 Kaslo St. Vancouver

CONTACT: ckalchbrenner (at) to RSVP or with any questions.


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The Story of a Chapter: 10 years of BC Hands & Voices

By Teresa Kazemir

Ten years ago, in June of 2007, I attended my very first Hands & Voices Leadership conference outside of Denver, Colorado. I will never forget the warm, welcoming, supportive and energizing feeling that radiated from that group of parents and professionals. It was like a family and I immediately felt that I belonged, regardless of our son’s hearing levels, what form of communication we used or what country we came from. Straight away, I thought that this was something we needed in British Columbia, especially for families of young babies that were just starting to be identified by universal newborn hearing screening through the BC Early Hearing Program.

“Hands & Voices … was like a family and I felt that I belonged, regardless of our son’s hearing levels, what form of communication we used or what country we came from.”

To back up a little…in 2006, as the BC Early Hearing Program was forming, a Parent Advisory Group (PAG) was established to help guide the process. Members of this volunteer group included Cathy Luther, Tammy Busch, Amy Ho, Jen Kipling, Shelley Mallinson and myself. Initially, the PAG was asked to provide input and feedback related to various aspects of the Early Hearing Program. We provided a parent perspective, while the professionals considered processes and procedures, and we also helped to develop materials and resources such as the website, brochures, and the family path (a brochure outlining the steps a family takes following hearing screening through to early intervention).

In 2007, the BC Early Hearing Program was ready to consider implementing a parent to parent support component of the program. Cathy Luther and I were sent to the Hands & Voices Leadership conference to explore whether Hands & Voices might be a good model for parent to parent support in BC. After many hours of discussion and debate, we came back with the recommendation that BC set up a Guide By Your Side program – and because Guide By Your Side is a Hands & Voices program, this also meant setting up a BC chapter of Hands & Voices.

Teresa Kazemir and Cathy Luther at the Leadership Conference in Breckenridge, Colorado, 2008

The next several months was a flurry of activity – BC Hands & Voices was established as a non-profit society and invitations were sent out to various individuals to become the founding directors of the board. A mission statement and by-laws were created. An application was made to Hands & Voices Headquarters, which involved a great amount of correspondence as we were the first chapter established outside of the USA.

Mission Statement: BC Hands & Voices is a parent-driven, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  We are a parent/professional collaborative group that is unbiased towards communication modes and methods, believing that families will make the best choices for their children if they have access to good information and support.

Some of the original BC Hands & Voices board, 2009 (Jen Kipling, Monique Preer, Cathy Luther, Teresa Kazemir, Amy Ho, Mary Stewart)

Simultaneously, planning was underway to set up Guide By Your Side. This Hands & Voices program was to be overseen by the BC chapter, at the same time being fully funded by and part of the BC Early Hearing program. I was hired as the Guide By Your Side Parent Coordinator, and the first team of Parent Guides were selected (Amy Ho, Shelley Mallinson, Bobbi Best, Gillian Doan, Terri Dauvin). This was all accomplished by early March 2008, in time for our initial training with Leeanne Seaver and Janet DesGeorges, two of the founding members of Hands & Voices.

First group of Parent Guides, 2008: Back row from left: Terri Dauvin, Bobbi Best, Teresa Kazemir. Front row from left: Gillian Doan, Shelley Mallinson, Amy Ho

“There was a specific need for unbiased parent-to-parent support very early after identification”

Early on there was some confusion about who Hands & Voices was and why we needed a chapter here in BC. There were two other parent organizations already in existence – Family Network for Deaf Children (FNDC) and Canadian Hard of Hearing Association of BC Parents’ Branch (CHHA-BC Parents’ Branch). Through many meetings and discussions, we all came to agree that while FNDC and CHHA-BC Parents’ Branch both provided much-needed supports for families, they were focused on school–aged children. With the implementation of the BC Early Hearing Program and newborn hearing screening, it became clear there was a specific need for unbiased parent-to-parent support very early after identification. Thus BC Hands & Voices, unlike other chapters of Hands & Voices, has always focused on the specific age group from birth to 5 years, supporting families within the entire spectrum of communication choices and hearing levels.

“BC Hands & Voices … (is) focused on the specific age group from birth to 5 years, supporting families within the entire spectrum of communication choices and hearing levels.”

Over the past ten years, many of our founding members have transitioned off the board, and some Parent Guides have moved on to other jobs, but there has never been a lack of people ready and willing to embrace our philosophy and join us in our work. As a parent driven organization, our board is mostly parents of deaf and hard-of hearing children, but professionals working in this area complete our diverse team. I have felt privileged to sit at the table with so many parents and professionals from diverse backgrounds with a wealth of experience and expertise. We continually learn from one another – by stretching ourselves and listening to each other’s stories, we become better advocates for our children and better supports for other families.

So now, after 10 years on this journey, it’s time for me to step back a little. While I do enjoy ‘driving the bus’, it feels good to see other very capable parent leaders step up to take on those roles. I am not leaving BC Hands & Voices altogether, but I am happy to see that it has become a strong organization that is no longer dependent on one or two specific individuals to keep it alive. My feelings are similar to when our oldest child moved out ‘permanently’ – I’m proud, relieved and optimistic, yet I know I will have to hold back a little and refrain from interfering or taking over. Parenting an adult is quite different from parenting a child. So I will strive to be available when needed, but also to respect that there are different ways of doing things. I look forward to this next phase with BC Hands & Voices, and I am happy that I am able to continue working with such a wonderful group of people!


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Fun Family Picnic 2017

WHO: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing Program, CHHA BC Parents’ Branch, Family & Community Services, 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:
• Hot dog 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 salad, fruit or vegetable plate or dessert to share (note: no freezer/fridge/oven)
• lawn chairs or blanket to sit on
Rain or Shine!  Free admission! Donations gratefully accepted at the event.

WHEN: Saturday June 17th, 11:00 am to 3:00 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 13th at
Special Note– Families of children with Atresia and Microtia – let’s meet up at the picnic!
If you are interested in meeting up with other families of children with Atresia and Microtia, please contact Catherine Kalchbrenner: who will collect names, and make a point of introducing families to one another during the picnic.

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If I Can Do It, You Can Do It: Hornby Island Family Deaf Camp

By Andrew Banks

Family camping – an event that is enjoyable, but definitely comes with its challenges. Family Deaf Camp, well, this was going to be interesting. These were the thoughts that went through my mind when my wife, Sandra, suggested that we go to Family Deaf Camp on Hornby Island.

My wife and I were great car campers before kids. When our two children came into our lives, all attempts by us to go camping were put on hold. We are the proud parents of an older hearing child, aged 5, and a younger child, aged 2, who was born deaf and had bilateral cochlear implant surgery at the age of one. The challenges of trying to camp with a very young family seemed beyond our capacity. Add in my lack of comfort with communicating in sign language, and the thought of attending a Deaf family camp was daunting.

After internally debating my wife’s suggestion, I agreed that yes, now was the time for a family camping trip, and the idea of camping on Hornby Island was even better. We know Hornby Island well as my wife’s family has lived there for many years. The decision was made to go.

July 2016, we arrived at Family Deaf Camp, with our children, for our first camping trip as a family. My wife made the executive decision that our eldest child and I would go to the camp to find a “good” site, while she and our youngest visited with her family. When I came to the camp entrance, which is located at the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre, I started to feel some trepidation. A good campsite – that is a lot of responsibility, especially when you don’t know the area. We pulled into the campground and were immediately greeted by Deaf Youth Today staff. Now my sign language skills are a work in progress and I think I must have looked like a stunned animal. However, their enthusiasm and helpfulness quickly overcame any language differences. With their help, we found a good spot – not too near or far from the action, and also handy for that all-important outhouse! After we staked our site and built our encampment (the best two room tent on the island!), I went to get my wife to show her my campsite selection expertise.

Our first day was enjoyable as we explored the campground and settled in. Before long, families that we knew from the community also turned up and the daunting task of camping with a young family became a relic of past thoughts. Our kids played with the other children all afternoon and, to our pleasant surprise, were quite tired come evening time and easily fell asleep in the tent. My wife and I wondered why we were so hesitant about going family camping in the first place.

 We had a delightful time over the next couple of days participating in some of the organized events for families, such as rock climbing, arts and crafts, and paddle boarding, just to name a few. The camp provided coffee every morning, two evening meals in the lodge, and breakfast for us on the last day. Not having to cook every meal took the pressure off and allowed us more opportunities to connect with other campers. There was also lots of time for us to relax between the scheduled events. 

Rock Climbing Fun

The staff was so easy-going and accommodating that communicating, either with or without sign language, became a non-issue. There was also a team of interpreters on hand to ensure access for everyone. Our children were having a blast, which allowed us, as parents, to relax and enjoy the whole experience.

 The highlight for me was the somewhat improvised performance, with optional audience participation, held each evening at the main campfire stage. The staff worked hard to entertain us and include the children. It was really enjoyable. After the show every night, the younger children went to bed exhausted. Once they were asleep, parents were able to socialize.

 I will always remember having a great campfire conversation with a couple of Deaf parents, with the help of an interpreter. The interpreter was so good that I quickly forgot I was relying on her. I found it quite funny that we had to hold the conversation when someone new joined in until the lights could be repositioned to ensure everyone could see people’s hands signing.

 The three days of camp quickly went by and, as a family, we were all somewhat saddened that Family Deaf Camp for 2016 was over- it was that enjoyable. Both of our children had fun, and were communicating with no inhibitions. My wife and I had time to relax, socialize, and to share common experiences with other families.

 Our family is already looking forward to returning to Hornby Island for Family Deaf Camp this summer. We hope to see your family there too. You can find me by looking for the dad who seems somewhat puzzled in sign language conversations but has a big smile on his face.

Editor’s Note:

Family Deaf Camp is hosted and organized by Gord and Allison Campbell. Gord is the director of the Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre. Deaf Youth Today (DYT), a summer program of Family Network for Deaf Children (FNDC), partners with Tribune Bay to make family camp a deaf friendly, language rich experience. Family Deaf Camp is for parents with deaf/hard of hearing children and Deaf/hard of hearing parents with their children, and is designed for families that use sign language for all or part of their communication, or are open to learning. For more information and to register go to


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Navigating New Cultures with My DHH Child

By: Anonymous

My family immigrated to Canada when I was two years old, back in the late 70s. That was almost 40 years ago! This past holiday season we decided to take the whole family back to my home country. We still have very strong ties there, most of my relatives still live there and we are in constant contact. I was thrilled at the thought of going back (it had been over a decade since I was last there) and we spent many hours planning and packing for our month long trip.


We did all of the normal preparations: gifts for the family, enough seasonally appropriate clothing, and mapping out where we wanted to spend our days and weekends. There was a little anxiety at the thought of the long haul flights with my two young children but, if I’m honest, what I was most anxious about was how to navigate my daughter’s hearing loss in a completely different culture and country. Added to that was the concern that my two children don’t speak my native language. They understand it perfectly but always reply in English.

The last time I had been back, hearing loss and equipment were far from my radar. I had no idea how many things that I take for granted here would play out. I know about the technology available here, what people’s typical reactions are and I am comfortable navigating social situations when I need to explain any accommodations my child might need. But all of these things were a complete mystery to me in relation to my home country.

All my family are aware of my daughter’s hearing loss and I am always open and forthcoming with them about her hearing levels and equipment. But somehow it’s not quite so real when you’re talking over FaceTime is it? How would they react when we were there? Would they remember that if she’s not wearing her hearing aid she may not hear them? Would they try and make eye contact? Would her cousins be gentle when the inevitable rough housing happened? What if there were questions from other kids? A million things went through my head before we finally got on that plane.

We arrived at 1am exhausted and, after a good long sleep and breakfast, I gathered the cousins and my daughter. I showed them her hearing aid. I let my daughter explain in her own words (in English) why she needs it and how she puts it on. I translated everything for her (and I filled in some blanks). We asked them if they had any questions. “Can she still hear us?” I let her answer in her own words. The more forthcoming I was, the more comfortable it made everyone. It went… exactly as it would have at home, beautifully. No big deal. Then off they went to navigate the fun of play in two languages. They quickly and easily learned to communicate with each other in both languages. And if the questions came from other kids, my daughter’s cousins now had the language/ knowledge to explain to the others. Wonderful!

Even if you have a younger child, who may not yet have the language or means to speak for themselves,  a mini intro to your child’s hearing loss/ hearing device/ accommodation needs/ communication methods in your words to others would be equally as beneficial. I always find it to be a great learning opportunity for all.

The rest of our holiday went much the same. It was really no big deal. All these moments were the same as they are here, wonderful opportunities to educate others and learn from them as well. I didn’t see any other children with hearing aids; apparently health care doesn’t cover them for children and most people don’t have the means to purchase them. I learned a lot about what hearing loss for kids looks like there, so it was an opportunity for me to educate myself too!

Here are some other tips I can offer:

  • Even if your child doesn’t speak the language, teach them some basic words to communicate with others in the target language. (I had to do this while we were on our trip, but I wish I’d done it before) Examples include, Hearing Aid, Cochlear Implant, Hearing Loss, “sorry, I can’t hear you”, “Can you please say it again?”
  • Try to educate yourself about what services/ schools or communication options are available in that country! I also wish I’d done more research on this. It would have made for even richer conversations and exchanges. “This is what it’s like in Canada, I’ve read there’s XYZ here, that’s the same/ different!”
  • Questions are great opportunities to model the language for your kids, let them hear you. This applies no matter where you are, home or away!

A lot of my anxiety quickly dissipated and we all had a great time. I had forgotten a fundamental kid truth: no matter the culture or country, kids are kids and just want to play!

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