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!