Posts Tagged ‘hands and voices’

Coming Full Circle With Technology

December 18, 2017

Joneskids

Growing up, even as a child of the 80s, I’ve have never been great with technology. I can post pictures on Facebook and record my favorite Housewife reality show on my DVR, but nothing much more advanced. When our family began our journey with two children with hearing loss, technology was an idea that terrified me. As I began my research after our children were diagnosed, I quickly felt that without getting an engineering or medical degree in my spare time, I would never understand the explanations I was given for the equipment being used to identify their hearing loss–nor the technology being suggested to help my babies hear better. Our son Harrison was identified at birth and our daughter Alexis was correctly diagnosed at four years old after a misdiagnosis at birth.

I thought my involvement with hearing aids stopped at picking out cute colors, not learning a second-language to understand words like hertz, tympanograms, sensorineural, and cookie-bite hearing loss (a configuration of hearing loss with less sound perception in the middle frequencies). I felt like I was drowning in a sea of alphabet soup with all the ABRs, OAEs, ENTs, FMs, IEPs and IFSPs. Dealing with all of this while adjusting to being a new mom of three children all under age four was too much for my sleep deprived non-technical mind. For the first few months, I put the dreaded “T” word out of my mind, vowing only to deal with it on an ‘as needed’ basis as they entered school.

As the years went on, and my kids got older, I noticed how my lack of knowledge for technology was limiting them, both in and out of the classroom. My children were having problems with their FM equipment in their schools, and I didn’t know what other options there were. My son was beginning to struggle hearing his soccer coach as the fields got bigger and instruction was coming from further away. My daughter began to shy away from popular adolescent activities such as talking on the phone and going to movies because she could not hear the words clearly. I watched how different my middle son Cole, who has typical hearing, was moving through life compared to my two kids with hearing loss.

Motivated by Necessity

I decided it was time to embrace my fear of technology and, along with my children, learn all I could. I began researching personal FM systems, personal closed captioning devices, closed captioning devices available in public areas, captioned telephones–anything I could find to help bridge the gap so my kids could participate as their peers did. Along with community organizations, school professionals and various websites, other parents of kids with hearing loss were the most helpful in sharing what worked and didn’t work for their kids and guiding me to available options. There has been lots of trial and error, and it’s still a dreaded task for me to research technology. Yet we’ve learned which movie theaters provide our preferred “rear view mirror” closed captioning devices rather than the “captioning glasses”. We’ve experienced which captioning devices are out of range in the balcony seats at our local playhouse. We’ve purchased personal FM Systems and devices to connect hearing aids wirelessly to TVs/music/computers for our children to use outside of school in various activities. We can’t wait for the weather in Las Vegas to cool down and we can wirelessly connect our stereo to the kids’ hearing aids at the drive-in theater so they can sit outside the car and still hear the movie! We’ve downloaded apps and received a telephone from a local deaf/hard of hearing services agency so they can have their phone conversations captioned. The kids have their own bed shaker alarm clocks to help with independence. While having access to all our technology definitely makes life easier, it does not solve all the issues my kids have faced. Simply knowing what options are available (and knowing our kids’ rights through IDEA and the ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act), my husband and I have had educated discussions with the schools and professionals and offer solutions to problems.

Finding A New Passion

To my surprise, all this technology I had been dreading for years wasn’t all that scary. The most surprising element in giving up my own fear was the fact that my daughter discovered her own passion for technology as it pertained to her personally having hearing loss. Beginning last year, our children began attending school at a STEAM Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Our daughter especially began to embrace her hearing loss and used it as the basis for every technology based-presentation she could, including “The History of Hearing Devices” and “People Who Are Deaf/Hard of Hearing Can Do Anything”. She recently attended a Girl Scout summer camp focused on technology, and her final project was to code a computer game. While I can still barely turn on a computer without reading the directions, I was not only amazed she generated a “Choose Your Own Adventure” type game, but that she chose Heller Keller as the main character. She navigated her “Helen” avatar on journeys all over the world for other kids to learn about her experiences. Watching my daughter present this computer game she had coded by herself brought tears to my eyes. I remembered how terrified I was six years ago at not only the thought of how to raise children who had hearing loss, but also the responsibility of understanding the technology that tends to come along with our kids. In an instant, my personal journey with technology, while never-ending, had come full circle. Letting go of my own past fears was the true gift I can give to my children. And, thanks to my technology-creating daughter, I can now quote Helen Keller as saying; “Fear: the best way out is through.”
Editor’s note: Jones serves the NV Chapter as Guide by Your Side Coordinator.

 

This article and many more are found in The Communicator. To receive quarterly issues:  The Communicator.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

The Hands & Voices Network:  It takes a Van to get to Destiny

September 22, 2015

photo 1 (13)

Having just flown back from our Annual H&V Leadership Conference, the buzz is in the air….on Facebook, email exchanges, twitter, Instagram, and texts….

“It was SO good to connect.”

“Thank you for helping me with what I needed for a strong healthy chapter”

“Thank you for supporting me in a situation I have with my own child”

It’s just so wonderful to see the connecting, the exchanging of support, the “Wisdom Among Us”.  We get such little face time together, that when we are together we talk a lot about feeling like we are back together as a family.  We share our unique and yet common experiences of raising a child who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing, and we CONNECT!  I personally walk away from the conference every year filled up and ready to make sure parent-to-parent support is available to all, and to tackle the challenges of improving the lives of our children in the health, education, and other systems that serve us.

The ‘magic’ or our family in some ways has elements we can define and prepare for, but also just happens when we are together.  The logistics of bringing a conference together, however, is not magic – it’s hard work, TO DO lists, endless planning of details, and dealing with onsite happenings you just can’t predict.  We learn from these experiences and also grow from them.  I want to  give a shout out to Molly Martzke, and  Jeannene Evenstad, along with our full H&V staff that made the logistics parts of this conference come together.

IMG_8997[2]

 

 

But it’s not just AT the conference where we get this vibe.  In fact, I just wanted to share a few moments that happened AFTER the conference, and I mean IMMEDIATELY after the conference when everyone was tired, looking towards home, and back to the ‘inboxes’ we so willingly abandoned for a few short days.

At our conference this year, we had the privilege of welcoming some international guests to our ‘family’ for the conference from Russia, China, and Kenya.  As we closed out our time, people from among us stepped up to ensure that our guests got where they needed to go, created even more opportunity to enjoy their visit here in the U.S. and to ensure that the network of not just a few, but of many, continued the networking.

Stephanie, Jackie, Lisa

So… thank you Stephanie Olson and Lisa Crawford for opening your home after the conference, spending more time with our Kenya partner, Jackie.  Jacki Oduor is giving to us the gift of herself, energy, and commitment to families in Kenya.  We are so grateful to be connected with her.

Photo:  Stephanie, Jackie, Lisa

To Candace, who not only helped arrange a visit from two special guest professionals from China, but went on to Colorado and spent the next day showing elements of the U.S.  educational system in Colorado, and other activities to help broaden the guests perspectives.  To our professional partner, Christine Yoshinaga Itano who helped arrange this as well.

chinese visitors

The China group visiting a Colorado preschool after flying from the conference in Texas to Colorado.

                                                                     

And to Molly, who is the Leader for our Russian/U.S. Partnership Project, driving our guests in a rather large, 15 passenger van that tested the limits at times of wearing the hat of ‘driver’  amongst her other duties.

huge van

You try parking this huge van perfectly every time.

 

 

 

I wanted to mention these rather ‘logistical’ elements of the ‘network’ that helps us, in the midst of limitations of our capacity, the amazing number of people who step up and abandon their title for just getting done what needs to get done.

Networking together.

Networking together.

I am so proud to be a part of this organization.  Not just for the stars on our map on our website that shows our growth, but that in any given moment, the number of people that are willing to step up and ‘just get it done’ is astounding to me. Thank you all, for making this 12th Annual Conference the best ever, and for keeping the network going even when we are not face to face.

Finally, as the Chinese visitors were boarding a plane after the conference to the next step of their journey, they turned to Candace and said, about their being here to experience Hands & Voices, “This is Destiny”.

Yes, it is.

 

Janet DesGeorges, Executive Director, Hands & Voices Headquarters

View photos from the conference here: www.instagram.com/handsandvoices

Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/handsandvoices

Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/handsandvoices

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

The ‘Why’ of What We Do at Hands & Voices

March 3, 2015

Oceanside1-webjpg
During a break at a recent Hands & Voices staff and board meeting, I took a good look around the room. Some of the staff and board members were engaged in one-on-one conversations. Others were in groups. 

Over the years, every single person on the board and staff came to Hands & Voices because of one thing: a passion for families with deaf and hard of hearing children.

Passion.

Isn’t that so frou-frou? Passion? I mean, come on.

Dedication. Involvement. Contribution. Those are certainly words to describe people who serve at every level of Hands & Voices.

What’s the core of what we do at Hands & Voices? What are we about? Who are we about? What’s our mission? What are our values? What is the “why” of what we do?

To those who may not be deeply familiar for what we stand for and how we support families, there’s often the misconception that we’re all about choices for families. That it’s all about communication methods and modalities.

But it’s not that.

It’s all too easy to get hung up on trying to balance the dance of equality among the choices out there. When you do that, you never win. It’s never balanced. It can’t be. This whole journey with deaf and hard of hearing children can’t be summed up by communication alone. To do that is to compartmentalize the journey.

At Hands & Voices we are sometimes bombarded with finger-pointing by others who insist we must remain neutral, balanced, and equal on every level in our daily work.

Instead, our work goes deeper than that. It’s about the emotional ups and downs of being a parent and understanding this journey. It’s about reaching out so that no one has to journey alone. It’s about providing support during the rough times and celebrating the joys.

Call it frou-frou if you will. We call it passion. It’s the fuel that drives us to do this day in and day out–without always having the funding to do so.

Passion is what keeps us up at nights responding to a parent who is frantic about the next day’s IEP meeting.

Passion is what allows us to have the energy to drive three hours to host an event for parents and children.

Passion is what pushes us to share resources, knowledge, and encouragement so other parents can be empowered on their own journeys.

 

Karen Putz

Mom to David, Lauren, & Steven

Co-Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion at Hands & Voices

OceansideSmiles-web-jpg (1)

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Helping Families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

November 26, 2014

giving tuesday

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two days for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.
It’s a simple idea. It’s a way for your family, your community, your company, or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.
Why are we doing Giving Tuesday?
It is a way for H&V HQ to raise funds and awareness on a national level. It will be the only giving campaign that we ask you (personally), your board and your chapter to participate in. It will provide us with the funds to continue to support you!

How do I #UNselfie? 

1. Take a “selfie” with a caption (or have it on a card in the picture) explaining how or why you and/or your friends are “giving” this year.
2. Always use the hashtags #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday and #HVGiving

 3. Post it to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter and share with friends!

   TELL everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

   SHARE your favorite #UNselfies on your H&V sites and personal sites.

ASK people to share their support on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram through status updates, posts, or other creative content. A few ideas include giving people a way to tell others about their   donations on Facebook, or asking fans to change their profile pictures on Facebook and Instagram to your campaign image.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

The U.S./Russian Partnership: Supporting Families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

November 3, 2014

russia trip

In July, 2014, Hands & Voices (H&V) was awarded a grant through the US-Russia Peer-to-Peer Program Grant administered through the U.S. Embassy. With over 240 applicants, Hands & Voices was one of only 26 selected. The grant was written in partnership with the St. Petersburg Early Intervention Institute (EII).

The goals of this project seek to expand the knowledge and experiences of parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing as well as the professionals who support them, and to share cultural perspectives and recommended practices in early intervention and parent to parent support–with the aim of improving services and child outcomes. The Partnership is based upon cultivating a parent to parent organizational system that provides emotional support, information dissemination, and modeling. The partnership is focusing on three distinct activities: translation of materials, direct exchange of knowledge and fostering of relationships through on-site visitations, and online exchange of knowledge and experiences.

savannah 1

The study visit to the U.S. by the Russian parents and professionals included an opportunity to attend the Hands & Voices Leadership Conference in Savannah, Georgia from September 19-21st, 2014. An additional day of exchange to forge partnerships between the two groups was included immediately following the conference. While parents have the most expertise about the reality of raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, they are rarely given the opportunity to be trained to be meaningful participants in the systems which serve them, especially regarding the unique language, communication, emotional, and educational considerations associated with hearing loss. The 11th Annual H&V Leadership Conference is a two-day training that enables parents and professionals to increase their advocacy skills and understanding of the systems they seek to improve. Professionals and deaf/hard of hearing community members also attend to learn about parent-perspectives on the systems they represent. This conference was able to create a platform of training from which the Russian partners participated, interacted, and learned from the H&V leadership attending. They were also contributors and role models for the U.S. and Canadian participants in the work that this group is doing in Russia.

russia trip 2

The participants from the U.S. then traveled to St. Petersburg to attend and present at the “Communication, Sound, and Light” conference, October 20th – 23rd, 2014, at the Pavlov Institute of Physiology, Russian Academy of Sciences. This Institute is dedicated to the memory of Ludmilla Chistovich, Valerij Kozhevnikov and Andrey Popov. The laboratories of Ludmilla Chistovich and Valerij Kozhevnikov specialized in speech perception. Beginning in 1960,they worked in close cooperation with researchers from the U.S. (e.g. MIT), Sweden (e.g., Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, known as KTH or the Royal Institute of Technology), France, Germany, Japan, and the U.K. These connections and friendship helped to start early intervention programs in Leningrad/ St. Petersburg in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s.

A parent workshop was held in St. Petersburg with over 35 parents attending. The U.S. team shared insights into the parenting journey and the building blocks of establishing parent-to-parent support. Karen Putz, one of the members of the US Team, also was able to enjoy a dinner out with several deaf moms and an evening of performances at the St. Petersburg Deaf Cultural Center – bridging and building relationships among other Deaf adults. She discovered it was rather easy to pick up Russian signs and vice versa.

As the team shared a dinner together on the last night in St. Peterburg, spirits were high, and you could feel the good energy at the table. After the Russian team had been to the U.S., and now our U.S. team had just spent a week in St. Petersburg – we were familiar with one another and enjoyed sharing our hopes and dreams for our children who are Deaf/HH. We were celebrating our week of hard work and what was to come.

The waiter approached the table with a bottle of vodka. It had been sent over by four gentlemen who were sitting nearby. One of the men approached us and made this speech: “I can see that your group is working well together. I am so moved by this exchange and the feeling that you are working together between U.S. and Russia. I want you to remember when you go home, that the Russian people are very interested in collaborating with U.S. Do not believe everything you hear on TV. I honor and toast to what is happening at this table right now.“

He was very emotional as he gave this speech, and those of us at the table felt the impact of what this project was producing–not just for our organizations and for our mission of improving the lives of Deaf children and their families–but that the opportunity for us to work together is building bridges beyond this grant. That we as human beings must bridge the gaps wherever we go – to stay focused on our common themes and common experiences.

The Russian – American exchange of families who have children who are deaf and hard of hearing will continue their collaboration by on-going peer-to-peer discussions and support throughout the partnership via live webinars connecting families during the partnership.

By Janet DesGeorges, Molly Martzke, and Karen Putz

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Janet DesGeorges: Leadership Thoughts

April 4, 2014

Leadership Thoughts

Janet DesGeorges, H&V Executive Director

janet desgeorges2

Below is a compilation of thoughts about what it takes to be a leader at Hands & Voices! Hope you enjoy these simple comments! These are taken from the bi-monthly H&V E-NEWS series. If you would like to get on the list to receive information, resources, and updates from Hands & Voices, contact: janet@handsandvoices.org

What are your priorities?

“It is easy to develop a list of fifteen to twenty priorities, but I would argue that this is the same as having no priorities. Human beings typically can perform at a high level only if they focus their efforts, and the greater the number of priorities you have, the harder it becomes to focus.”
(Robert Steven Kaplan, What to Ask the Person in the Mirror: Critical Questions for Becoming a More Effective Leader and Reaching Your Potential)

So, what are your priorities? I have discovered over the years that many people would like me to focus on their priorities, and if I don’t have a good mechanism for the n-word (“NO”), then I may never get to what is really important to me and to achieving our goals at H&V. Remember, sometimes saying ‘NO’ to someone else’s request for your time/energy is a ‘YES’ to getting to what you know are the really important things. So, today, you might want to practice a ‘no’ or two. Someone once told me that my plate is full, and every time I say ‘YES’ to something, something else on that plate is slipping off. That visual has helped me to understand that there are only so many hours in the day, and we just have to be smart about our desire to say ‘YES’ as well as our ‘NO’. I am so grateful for all of you out there that have said ‘YES’ to the priority of supporting families via the Hands & Voices network. Now THERE’S a good ‘YES’!

Slow Down

http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs176/1108454597152/img/233.jpg

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” -Eddie Cantor

It is always good to reflect on how far we’ve come at Hands & Voices, and where we are going! With over 50 chapters in full swing here in the U.S. and abroad, it is more important than ever to know where we are going and why! To all of you who put your heart and soul into this organization, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Don’t forget to have a little ‘down time’ when needed. Remember that our organization is here for the long haul. We want to be a part of something that will exist beyond us, and into the next generation of children who are deaf/hh. So, relax…. AND get ready for a busy, action packed year of supporting families who have children who are d/hh. I know I am!

Feeling Overwhelmed

“When you come upon a wall, throw your hat over it, and then go get your hat.” – Anonymous

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Wondering if you really have time for all this? (And by ‘this’ I mean improving the systems that serve our children who are deaf/hh.) There are times for all of us when the obstacles seem too challenging. Someone says, ‘we tried that and it can’t be done’ and that seems to diffuse or deflate us. We are not sure whether our efforts will really make a difference. REMEMBER where we have come from, what we have accomplished already, and what we want to achieve.

http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs176/1108454597152/img/262.jpg

We seek to support:


-A solid foundational start to the journey for our kids through informed decision making.
-Strong, healthy, communicating, language-laden children.
-Educational Excellence for all deaf/hh students.
-Prepared students ready to enter the work force.

Sounds daunting? If it were easy, others before us would have achieved these goals already. Keep your eye on the prize and keep moving forward. Together we can make a difference!

http://ih.constantcontact.com/fs176/1108454597152/img/489.png

Pass it On

PASS IT ON…. One of our HQ Board members, Harold Johnson recently sent me a link to a TED talk about ‘Crowd Accelerated Innovation’ – talking about the concept of information dissemination and innovation in this age of technology (specifically YouTube). Not only the ability to pass on information, but about how innovation can actually be replicated and improved upon as it is passed on from one source to another. It’s been one of the defining characteristics of H&V. One chapter has a good idea, and another chapter replicates and builds upon on it -and successful support to families grows in both quantity and quality. So, when you have a good idea, a successful event, or good resources you’ve come across -pass it on… If you are interested in this concept and want to see the TED talk, click here.

Process is Important

https://origin.ih.constantcontact.com/fs176/1108454597152/img/546.jpg“It’s not just what we do, but how we do it!” One of our favorite sayings around H&V HQ is to ask ourselves as staff/board members, “If I was not able to continue in my position, could the organization go on without me?” That is sometimes hard to do when our self-identity and desire to be needed is embroiled in our lives as leaders. This question ties to our current strategic plan focusing on sustainability and capacity. Organizations at some point cannot exist or depend on one particular individual. But it’s important to expand this concept beyond just the ‘what’ needs to get done to the ‘how’. What are the processes in place that keep the organization healthy? Decision making, prioritization of projects, project management plans…. It’s not just our ‘to do’ items that need consideration. It’s ensuring the procedures are in place and in writing so that if we left tomorrow, others could step in and not only know what to do, but how to do it. We want H&V to be strong, healthy and moving forward long after we are gone. That’s an empowering thought!

Find out more about Janet: Janet DesGeorges at Hands & Voices

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

This is the place where we find each other…

October 29, 2013

HV logo

We’re parents and families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH).  Most of us are hearing ourselves (95% of us, according to the statistics) and our DHH child might be the first person with hearing loss we’ve ever met (not counting Great Aunt Louise).

Wherever you are in your parent journey with your child…whether you’re talking, signing, cueing or combining, or even if you have no idea yet what the best communication mode will be, you’re welcome here. Whether you’re child is newly identified with a hearing loss or a senior in high school, you’re welcome here.

This is Hands & Voices…we’re parents who are trying to make the best decisions we can for our children from birth until they leave the nest. It helps to share with each other so we started this blog.

If you want to know more about our organization, please visit the official website at www.handsandvoices.org

Welcome to this parent community. Please be nice. We’re all trying the best we can and would never hurt anybody’s feelings intentionally, so thank you for being sensitive with your remarks to the diverse perspectives shared on this blog. We reserve the right to moderate comments and will not publish anything that gives offense. If we have missed the mark for you, please let us know and we’ll try harder the next time.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail