D/HH Mentor/Guide/Role Model Programs


Where do I find Deaf/Hard of hearing Mentors?
State and Territory Listing of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Mentors/Guides/Role Model Programs

Guidelines for Establishing and Maintaining D/HH Mentor / Guide / Role Model Programs

guidelinesD/HH adults who act as mentors, guides or role models are uniquely qualified to provide families with a positive and hopeful perspective from their day-to-day, real life experiences as a D/HH person living in a predominantly hearing world. In sharing these experiences and insights, D/HH mentors/guides/role models may be able to articulate what a young child cannot, which brings an important perspective and credibility to discussions of the child’s needs.  These guidelines are intended to offer suggestions for EHDI systems as to recommended practices in provision of D/HH mentor/guide/role model services to families/children. These recommendations are advised by the FL3 D/HH Advisory Committee and contributed to by members of the NCHAM Adult Involvement Learning Community3 and other community stakeholders.

The Value of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Adult Involvement

Adults who are deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) play an important role in the journey of families with children who are d/hh. The level of involvement and services vary from state to state.  The goal of the Family Leadership in Language and Learning (FL3) Cooperative Agreement is to develop strategies to support meaningful inclusion of adults who are d/hh within EHDI systems, integrate new knowledge of mentor programs, and develop training and resources for states and family-to-family support organizations serving the deaf/hard of hearing community.

For many of us, the first time we had a conversation with a deaf or hard of hearing adult, especially one who has received training on supporting families with young children who are deaf/hard of hearing, was a welcome revelation. Suddenly, we had a much better idea about what life might be like for our child in the years to come. The FL3 Cooperative Agreement recognizes the value of connecting families and their child who is deaf or hard of hearing early and often with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Such individuals are typically trained adults who interact with the family and provide mentoring, modeling, and information through one-on-one interaction. A variety of terms are used to describe such individuals: deaf mentors, deaf guides, role models and partners.

In 2014-2015, the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) facilitated a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Adult Involvement Learning Community. This learning community identified eleven examples of Deaf/HH Mentor/Adult Involvement Programs in the United States. The lack of programs is a barrier to families trying to access these programs.  The FL3 is designed to improve parent awareness and access to these valuable services as well as encourage systems to develop programming.

Do We Need to Meet Deaf/hh Mentors?

The importance of Deaf Mentor programs was demonstrated in a study by Jackson (2011). Through a survey of 456 parents of children who were deaf or hard of hearing, 56.2% indicated that deaf role models and mentors were very important, while 27.9% more indicated that it was moderately important; 47.9% indicated that access to adults who are deaf or hard of hearing was very important, and an additional 27.1% indicated that it was moderately important.

In August, 2016, Wilder Research released a report entitled, Lifetrack’s Deaf Mentor Family Program An Evaluation of the Experiences and Outcomes for Participating Families (Peterson 2016) to evaluate the Minnesota Lifetrack Deaf Mentor Family Program.  The program matches families with young children who are deaf and hard of hearing with an adult who is Deaf (called a “Deaf Mentor”).  Key findings included:  A majority (85%) of families felt their child’s quality of life had “improved” as a result of participating in the Deaf Mentor Family Program; Two-thirds of respondents (68%) said that communication with their child had “gotten much better.”; Nearly all (96%) received information on Deaf culture or the Deaf community during their sessions with their Deaf Mentor; of those, three-quarters (76%) found the information “very helpful.” The study went on to say families desired more diversity in adult role models, including those who use listening and spoken language and Cued Speech.

The following is a list of programs that provide services from adults who are deaf and hard of hearing.  Additional information about programs not on this list can be submitted by contacting FL3@handsandvoices.org.


Agency: Colorado Hands & Voices Partner Project
Contact: Carmela Roybal
Website: http://www.cohandsandvoices.org/newsite/about/staff-contacts/


Agency: Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education
Training: Ski-Hi
Services: Deaf Mentor Program (Birth to Three)
Contact: Madelyn “Meg” Warnock; mwarnock@isdh.in.gov

Agency: Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education
Training: Ski-Hi
Services: School Age Mentor (Age three to school exit)
Contact: Madelyn “Meg” Warnock; mwarnock@isdh.in.gov


Agency: Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Training:  National Deaf Mentor Program

Deaf Mentor Program
ASL Family Training

Contact: Mary Jo York
Website: http://www.mecdhh.org/parents/asl-for-families/


Agency: Lifetrack
Training: Ski-Hi
Services: Deaf Mentor Program
Contact: Danelle Gournaris - DMFP@lifetrack-mn.org
Website:  http://www.lifetrack-mn.org/deaf-mentor-family-program
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Role Model Program http://www.lifetrack-mn.org/DHH/RoleModels
Contact: Chelsea Paulson - DHHRM@lifetrack-mn.org
Website: http://www.lifetrack-mn.org/rolemodel

New Mexico

Agency: New Mexico School for the Deaf
Training: Deaf Mentor Curriculum
Services provided: Deaf Mentor Program:  American Sign Language. Instruction provided in the family’s home. Shared Reading Project:
Coordinator: Joanne Corwin
Contact info: (505) 275-5433 (Voice)
(505) 435-9167 (VP)
(800) 841-6699
Website: http://www.nmsd.k12.nm.us

South Dakota

Agency: Parent Connection (Affiliate of Family Voices)
Training: Ski-Hi 2017
Deaf Mentors: 5
Coordinator: Teresa Nold (Deaf, Parent of DHH child) Serves on National Coordinating Center (NCC) Newborn Hearing Screening Workgroup
Contact info:


Agency: Wisconsin Educational Services Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Services provided: First Steps Birth to 3 American Sign Language instruction
Deaf Mentor Program 3 to 21 American Sign Language instruction, Deaf Culture, Role Models, 60 to 90 minutes in home or Skype/FaceTime/Google Hangouts.
Coordinator: Bonnie Eldred
Contact info:  bonnie.eldred@wesp-dhh.wi.gov
Referral link: http://wesp-dhh.wi.gov/outreach/families/dmp/referral/