2018 Summer Get-Togethers Around the Province

Summer Play Days in BC Parks!


Come and get together with other families of deaf/hard of hearing children. Bring your own picnic/snacks, lawn chairs/blanket and water gear if you want to get wet! Parents are responsible for their own children at these events. Look for the orange & blue balloons!

Monday, August 13th, Victoria/Saanich area – 3pm-5pm Beckwith Park
857 Beckwith Ave (find us near the water park)

Monday, August 20th, Prince George – 10am-12 noon Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park – 17th Avenue (find us near the water park)

Tuesday, August 21st , New Westminster – 11am-2pm Grimston Park
1900 Seventh Ave (find us near the wading pool)

RSVP is not required, but please watch our Facebook page
for notice of cancellation if it’s raining.

Visit our Facebook Page & Website:
Contact: info@bchandsandvoices.com

Download the flyer here: Summer Get Together Flyer 2018

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Never Mind, It’s Not Important = Never Mind, You’re Not Important

Author: Teresa Kazemir

I was chatting with our adult son recently, reflecting back on his childhood, and the “no never mind” rule came up. I don’t recall who first taught me the “no never mind” rule so unfortunately I can’t give them their due credit, but I have heard several people refer to it over the years, and I have always thought it’s worth passing on to families of young children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Jesse- age 10

So what is the “no never mind” rule? It is a rule that our family followed very strictly over the years, and it was simply the idea that it was never OK to tell our hard of hearing son “never mind” if he missed something and asked what was said. And to keep things fair, the same rule applied to everyone else in the family. So whether the person said “what?” or “pardon?” or “huh?” or “I didn’t hear you,” the expectation was that the person speaking would repeat what they said. In our family, we used mostly spoken language with some sign support, but this rule is not specific to any particular language or communication approach – it is about having access to what is being communicated from one person to another.

There are several reasons why this rule is so important for children who are deaf or hard of hearing:

Self Esteem

When you tell someone “never mind,” you may think you’re sending the message “never mind, it’s not important.” However, the message that is heard and felt at the other end of that exchange is often “never mind, you’re not important.” We were very intentional about building and preserving our son’s self esteem – we wanted him to know that we thought he deserved to access what was being said just as much as everyone else in our family, and was no less valued. So even if we knew the information was not intended for him or would not be of interest to him, we would repeat what was said, and let him make that decision for himself.


We also wanted our son to learn that he has the right to full access in any situation. When he and his siblings were young, we modelled and reinforced the rule at home. As he got older, that expectation was internalized, and he started telling other people that they couldn’t say “never mind” to him. He reflects back now that he wasn’t necessarily able to explain it well at that time, as to him it was just a rule, but it definitely made him fight for what he missed. “I kind of laugh in hindsight because none of the other kids at school would have known the rule, but I assumed it was a universal thing at that point.”

Incidental Learning/ World Knowledge

We were aware that kids who are deaf or hard of hearing often miss out on opportunities for incidental learning – they don’t have easy access to “overhear” conversations in the same way that most kids with typical hearing do in hearing families, or as signing kids do in families where the first language is ASL. By accessing comments or conversations that are not necessarily intended for them, children gradually acquire something called “world knowledge.” They learn that adults don’t always agree about things, that relatives get sick, that a repair person can be called when the washing machine breaks, that people pay income tax etc. There are so many things that we don’t explicitly teach our children, and they learn simply by being exposed to conversations. So any time our son asked what had been said, as long as it wasn’t private or confidential, we repeated it.

Now, as an adult looking back, Jesse says that rule made a big difference for him. “It really taught me that I was entitled to full access, and as a result made me fight for access when I didn’t have it.” He noted that to this day he gets really indignant when someone tells him “never mind” – which he thinks is a good thing.

Posted in Articles, Families to Families, Microtia/ Atresia | Comments Off on Never Mind, It’s Not Important = Never Mind, You’re Not Important

Fun Family Picnic 2018

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 16th, 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 11th at  www.fndc.ca/familypicnic

Special Note– Families of children with Atresia/ Microtia – let’s meet up at the picnic! Please contact Catherine: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca  who will collect names, and introduce families to one another during the picnic.


Click here to see our Picnic Flyer in Traditional Chinese: TC Flyer
or in Simplified Chinese: SC Flyer

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Proposed Changes to BC H&V Bylaws

Notice of special resolution: The board of BC Hands & Voices will be forwarding a special resolution to rescind and replace our current bylaws with an updated version that reflects our new two-tier membership structure. The special resolution will be voted on at the May 7th (2018) board meeting, to be held 7pm – 9pm at Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC (3575 Kaslo St., Vancouver). All eligible BC Hands & Voices voting members are invited to attend. The updated bylaws are available for review here: Proposed Changes to BC Hands & Voices Bylaws

Please RSVP to ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca by Saturday May 5th, 2018

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Family Play Day 2018


BC Hands & Voices

Family Play Day

Saturday, May 5th, 2018
12:30pm – 2:30 pm
Bridgeview Community Centre
11475 126A St, Surrey, BC V3V 5G8
*Admission by Donation*
($5 / family suggested)

Come and get together with other families with little ones who are deaf or hard of hearing (ages 0-5 and their siblings up to 10 years old)! Parents can connect and mingle while the kids enjoy the open gym and bouncy castle. Bring your own snacks and water and don’t forget socks for the bouncy castle!

Registration is limited so be sure to RSVP with number of children and their ages.

ASL Interpreters Available

Visit our Facebook Page:
RSVP: ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Family Play Day Flyer<< click here


Posted in Babies, Events, Families to Families | Comments Off on Family Play Day 2018

The BC Hands & Voices 2018 AGM: Reflecting on the year that was, and planning for the one to come

By Lee Johnston

The BC Hands & Voices AGM – held this year on March 5th – always provides an opportunity to reflect and take pride in all our organization has accomplished over the past year. In this month’s article we’re sharing some highlights from the president’s report on our past year’s activities. We hope you’ve enjoyed being part of the extended Hands & Voices family, and look forward to another year of serving families of Deaf and hard of hearing children aged 0-5!

The BC H&V Board

The board has remained fairly stable this year after saying good bye to some longer-term members in the years previous. Teresa Kazemir stepped into the secretary’s role and will continue acting in the role as past president for one more year, offering invaluable support to the new leadership team. Lee Johnston and Jen Gow will be completing the second of their 2 year term commitments as President and Vice-president respectively, and Amy Ho will continue on in her role as treasurer after doing an outstanding job in this area for the past year. Kim Shauer will continue as our amazing GBYS Coordinator, and Jenny Hatton, Joy Santos, Dan Braun, and our newest addition Rabab Elbaharia will continue to serve on the board for this upcoming year. We’re happy to have such a diverse and dedicated group of parents and professionals on our team!


Past Year’s Accomplishments

The H&V board has been busy since hosting last year’s AGM, which featured a discussion on traveling with Deaf/Hard of Hearing children. On top of 7 board meetings and our annual all day retreat, board representatives joined in on Hands & Voices headquarter calls, local meetings of the Council of Service Providers, and the Coalition of Parent Organizations (BC H&V, CHHA, and FNDC).

BC H&V parents also participated on a panel for the BC Early Hearing Program Newborn Hearing Screener training in April 2017, providing feedback on their screening experience and particularly on improving how they communicate with parents. In May of last year, Teresa & Jen (along with another parent Bobbi Taylor) presented at a conference for Teacher of the DHH/Hearing Resource teachers. In the fall, Kim presented on both GBYS Program & BC Hands & Voices events to audiologists.

On top of that, we hosted the following events for parents of DHH kids:

EVENT DATE TOPIC (if applicable)
Coffee Night Jan 23 Mild/ Moderate Hearing Levels
AGM/ Workshop March 6 Traveling with Your Deaf/ Hard of Hearing Child
Coffee Night April 24 Deaf Culture
Coffee Night May 29th Microtia/ Atresia
June picnic June 17 Family Fun picnic
Summer get-together (Chinese Families) July 29th
Summer get-together August 22
Coffee Night Sept 28 Sleep time Strategies
Fall Parent Workshop Nov 4 Growing Up with Hands & Voices
Coffee Night Nov 27 Unilateral Hearing
Coffee Night Jan 29 Use of Technology for DHH individuals

Through our monthly electronic newsletter we distributed original articles written by board members and special guests, as well as favourites from our archives, a helpful link, a profile of a featured board member or parent guide, and news about local events – to over 200 members! We continued to provide quarterly submissions to the Hand & Voices Communicator, which we distributed to paid members 4 times a year.

Perhaps our proudest accomplishment is the fact that the BC H&V Guide by Your Side program continues to support families across BC with both Parent Guides and DHH Guides. Approximately 70 families over this past year were put in touch with understanding parents and role models.  


Last and certainly not least, we would not have been able to accomplish all that we have over the past year without donations and grants. We want to recognize and thank the following organizations for their funding and in-kind support:

  • The BC Early Hearing Program for the use of the conference line, and support for our events and activities, as well as housing and funding our GBYS program.
  • Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC, BC Family Hearing Resource Centre, the Deaf Well-Being Program for the use of their facilities for our meetings and coffee nights.
  • Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre of BC for use of their facilities for our fall workshop and childcare.
  • And all of the board members, volunteers and staff for their donations as well as their participation and dedication over the past year.

And most of all, we’d like to thank the families who have joined H&V as members, come out to our events, and engaged with us over the past year. We look forward to serving you for the year to come!

  • The BC H&V Board
Posted in Administration, Articles | Comments Off on The BC Hands & Voices 2018 AGM: Reflecting on the year that was, and planning for the one to come

2018 AGM & Parent Evening


BC Hands & Voices Parent Evening & AGM

Monday March 5, 2018
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Free to attend

Location: 6077 181 Street, Surrey




A Parent Evening covering any topic you’d like to discuss!

An open topic “meet up” for parents of deaf/hard of hearing children newborn to 5 years old! Join some veteran H&V parents, board members, and local Guide By Your Side Guides in a casual discussion of whatever is on your mind.

BC Hands & Voices Annual General Meeting 7:00-7:30pm

We’ll begin with a short AGM, where we will share what BC Hands & Voices has accomplished over the past year!

ASL interpreters will be provided

Parking Information
Cul-de-sac parking is limited, but more parking available on side streets.

For more information or if you live outside the Lower Mainland and need the teleconference information please email ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Download Flyer Here: 2018 AGM

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A Fantastic Blend of Education, Inspiration and Connection – My Experience at the 2017 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference

By Lee Johnston

In September of last year, I was fortunate to be able to attend the 14th annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference. Since joining BC Hands & Voices a couple of years ago I had heard only glowing references about this conference – referred to as “Leadership” in Hands & Voices shorthand. I was admittedly a bit reluctant at first to travel to Galena, Illinois for the three-day meeting, as it was a busy time of year to be flying off and leaving my toddler behind. Luckily my parents and partner are generous folks and made it possible for me to leave for an extended weekend. So, after two flights and a 90-minute drive through seemingly endless cornfields, I arrived at Leadership, excited and a bit curious to see what all the fuss was about.  

Lee at the conference

As it turned out, the hype around the H&V Leadership conference was well-earned. I’ve been to a variety of conferences and workshops before, but Leadership is unique. It presents a fantastic blend of education, inspiration and connection with like-minded parents and professionals working to support families of deaf and hard of hearing children. The theme of the 2017 conference was “Transforming Systems with Family Engagement: The H&V Way.” Over the course of three days myself and my local chapter counterparts were immersed in discussions on a wide range of topics. Some of these related to H&V’s core programs and overall mission of providing unbiased support to families. Others imparted valuable information for leaders in non-profit, volunteer-led organizations – material that will hopefully help our H&V chapter continue to grow and thrive in the future as we build on an already strong foundation. Perhaps the most powerful conference content came in the form of personal stories – of Deaf/Hard of Hearing (D/HH) adults sharing their past struggles in navigating identity in biased systems; of parents sharing their challenges in forming and sustaining local H&V chapters; of H&V leaders describing the encounters they continue to have with professional support systems as they work to improve them for families.

Left to Right – Interpreter, Janet DesGeorges (Executive Director), Vicki Hunting (Director of Data and Evaluation)

If I had to narrow down my Leadership experience to a few key takeaways, it would be these:

  1. We are very fortunate in British Columbia to have an early hearing screening program and three parent-driven family support organizations. I had the opportunity to speak to parents from all over the United States who are in the beginnings of supporting local H&V chapters, or trying to resuscitate ones that are faltering. Other provinces across Canada are going through similar challenges. BC is a leader in Canada on engaging parents in system transformation, and we should be proud of that!  
  2. Deaf/HH encompasses a vast range of experiences, methods of communication, and life circumstances. This may be an obvious statement, but one that was driven home time and time again throughout the conference – both from speakers and through casual conversations. Anita Dowd from Kentucky H&V gave an amazing talk highlighting some of these factors and how they impacted her decisions around her identity and language used to describe her deafness. In case you missed the link to a fantastic article capturing some of her thoughts in last month’s newsletter, the article can be found here: http://www.handsandvoices.org/articles/deafpersp/V20-3_cursive-d.html.
  3. Parent-led organizations and family support systems will benefit by continuing to diversify their membership, not only in relation to DHH identity, but also in regards to ethnicity, culture, socio-economic status and other factors that influence parental decision making. By widening the tent and bringing more voices into the fold, we can continue to expand the reach and impact of parent-led efforts to help D/HH families.

As a first-timer at Leadership and fairly recent member of H&V, I only scraped the surface of what the annual conference has to offer. I look forward to going back next year and know that it will feel like a family reunion of sorts. Such is the magic of Hands & Voices – and the parents who drive it.

A room full of engaged and dedicated parents & professionals

Posted in Articles, Events, Families to Families | Comments Off on A Fantastic Blend of Education, Inspiration and Connection – My Experience at the 2017 Hands & Voices Leadership Conference

Parent Coffee Night- Use of Technology for Deaf/Hard ​of Hearing Individuals

(Attend in person or join via Teleconference or online video
conference if you live outside the Lower Mainland)

Monday January 29​th​, 2018 7:00pm- 9:00pm
Location: ​243 Sandringham Avenue, New Westminster

An opportunity for parents of deaf / hard of hearing children 0-5 to learn from Deaf / Hard of Hearing role models (Monique Les, Felicia D’Amato & Bowen Tang) about the many different technologies they use to help support communication, learning and everyday life!

Please join us: If you’re interested in the phone-in/ video option, please RSVP
by January 27th so that we can provide you with the access details. Please
email Catherine at ckalchbrenner@cw.bc.ca

Please see Flyer 2018 H&V Coffee Night Technology DHH (2)

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Teresa Kazemir: Going From Strength to Strength After a Decade of Leadership

By Jen Gow

BC Hands & Voices was thrilled to award Teresa Kazemir a “Lifetime Honorary Membership” at our recent annual parent workshop “Growing Up with Hands & Voices”. Many of you may already know Teresa from one or more of the many roles she plays within our community, for example as a past Guide By Your Side Parent Guide and Coordinator, a host or presenter at our BC Hands & Voices coffee nights, workshops and picnics, an early intervention Speech Language Pathologist, and as the parent of three children, one of whom is hard of hearing. Phew, it can make you tired just to think of all of that!

Even if you haven’t had the chance to meet Teresa, your family has undoubtedly benefited from her pioneering leadership here in British Columbia. Since the inception of the BC Early Hearing Program more than 10 years ago, she has played a pivotal role in supporting families of young deaf and hard of hearing children, and in promoting the importance of parent-to-parent support.

Her involvement started in 2006 as a member of the Parent Advisory Group that provided a parent perspective to help guide the process of establishing BC Early Hearing Program. (BCEHP is the province-wide screening program that checks hearing for babies born in BC, and integrates services from hearing screening and testing to early intervention support following the identification of hearing loss.) A year later, BCEHP was ready to consider adding a parent-to-parent support component to its program. Along with Cathy Luther, Teresa was sent to a Hands & Voices Leadership Conference to explore whether their Guide By Your Side (GBYS) program could be a good model for parent-to-parent support within BC. Impressed with what they learned, Teresa and Cathy indeed returned recommending that BC set up a GBYS program and a BC chapter of Hands & Voices that could run the program in conjunction with BCEHP.

There was a huge amount of work involved to turn this recommendation into a reality, and it was Teresa and Cathy who spearheaded this. Teresa volunteered tirelessly to bring together a founding board of directors and establish BC Hands & Voices as a non-profit society, establishing its mission statement and by-laws. This administrative task was all the more formidable as BC Hands & Voices was the first chapter to be set up outside of the USA.

At the same time, Teresa was hired by BCEHP as the first GBYS Parent Coordinator. Teresa brought together the first team of Parent Guides in record time; incredibly all of this was set in place within just a few months so that the new Parent Guides were ready for the initial training that Hands & Voices was providing to our new chapter in the spring of 2008.

After the initial flurry of getting BC Hands & Voices and GBYS off the ground, Teresa’s philosophy of “we can’t do everything, but we can do something” ensured they not only kept going but gathered strength and momentum. This came about in part from Teresa’s diligent worker bee attitude but also from her capacity as a thoughtful leader. Her persistent hard work is inspiring, and just as motivating is her unwavering fairness and patience, as well as her infectious enthusiasm.

Teresa truly embodies the Hands & Voices philosophy of providing unbiased support and the belief that families will make the best choices for their children if they have access to good information and support. Her dedication has meant that families of young deaf and hard of hearing children across this province have had consistent access to parent-to-parent support from an organization that embraces all families within the entire spectrum of communication choices and hearing levels.

Under Teresa’s leadership, BC Hands & Voices and GBYS have grown into a strong, sustainable organization and program with a wide reach. After five years, Teresa handed over the reigns of GBYS Coordinator to Kim Shauer. More recently, after serving as Leader of BC Hands & Voices for an impressive decade, Teresa has passed the baton on to Lee Johnston this year. Her work with BC Hands & Voices continues; as Past-President, Teresa remains an active member of the BC Hands & Voices Executive Board, and she also serves the organization at the international level by sitting on the Hands & Voices Board of Directors.

It is a privilege to work alongside Teresa and learn from her experience and expertise. Teresa offers all of us in this community a great deal – by listening to her story as a mother, a professional and a leading community volunteer, we too can become stronger parents and advocates for our children, and better support one another along the way.

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