Hands & Voices: What Have We
Done For You Lately?

At H&V, we're at work every single day on projects at the state and national level in our efforts to improve support to families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and for the professionals who serve them. What exactly does that look like? For our chapters nationwide (current count is 31 states with existing chapters or start-up efforts), activities range from advocacy training to social events to statewide conference sponsorship and more to numerous to mention. At the national level, our H&V national leaders are busy influencing policy, developing programs, and working towards our goal of improving educational and social outcomes for all of our kids-regardless of how they communicate. Our H&V leaders sit on many major boards and committees related to deaf education and policy in this country including:

  • AAA and ASHA
  • Educational Audiology Association
  • National Deaf Education Reform Summit Planning Committee
  • NCHAM Family Support Conference Planning Committee
  • National Association for the Deaf
  • NICHQ Medical Home Learning Collaborative
  • NASDSE DHH Policy Guidelines Advisory
  • National Center on Low Incidence Disabilities
  • Gallaudet Board of Trustees
  • The Marion Downs National Hearing Center
  • Early Hearing Detection & Intervention Advisory
  • Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Advisory
  • American Federation for the Blind/Classroom Access Project
  • American College Educators/DHH Join-Together Grant Executive Advisory
  • CDC Parent - to - Parent Advisory Committee
  • National Deaf Education Project NOW and many more, especially at the state level.

But wait, there's more! Here's just a partial list of what we've got going on at H&V:

1. www.handsandvoices.org

This website tracks an average of 50,000 page requests per month-a strong number for a categorically-focused low incidence "disability." We provide an interactive Bulletin Board for on-line discussions, a calendar of events, a curriculum for parent training and professional development, many articles on a broad range of DHH topics, and links to state and national websites. Our on-line clearinghouse of Resource Guides that have been developed by states for families with deaf or hard of hearing children is an invaluable resource.

2. Supporting Families Without Bias

Supporting Families Without Bias is not only our our mission, but we do a lot more than just talk about the value: we actively teach how to practice non-biased family support. We do extensive training to our own Parent Guides, parent consultants and chapter leaders, deaf/hard of hearing mentors, as well as to professionals with a workshop and powerpoint presentation.

See: www.handsandvoices.org/articles/fam_perspectives/wo_bias_V8-2.htm

3. The Hands & Voices Resource Guide

Our resource guide for families has evolved over the years into a definitive work---plus, we have a Spanish version as well. You can access the resource guide online HERE. Download the 2005 version of our definitive Colorado chapter Resource Guide as a printable pdf as well.

4. Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side

An innovative program with trained parent guides, and deaf or hard of hearing mentors who can serve as a point-of-entry support to the EHDI system, providing peer counseling and emotional support while facilitating the early journey of families with newly identified babies. This unique service is implemented currently in Minnesota, Michigan, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Virginia, with more state programs coming.

5. Hands & Voices Basic Training and Curriculums.

These programs were developed to achieve our goal of trained parent guides, but we use many of them at conferences and workshops we're invited to, or that we sponsor ourselves. Popular requests include "Is This a Deaf Thing?" and "Special Education Law & Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing." View the whole line up at: www.handsandvoices.org/services/bureau.htm

6. A is for Access

"A is for Access: Creating & Implementing Full and Effective Communication Access for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing" is a DVD we produced to help families and educators understand the unique communication needs and special considerations for this student population. It looks at all modes and methods to see how they should be accommodated in educational settings; includes an in-depth look at special education law, and the definition of full and effective communication access. It is available for purchase directly from H&V, or from Butte Publications. We're currently working on a Guidebook to accompany this DVD, which is a selected title of the Access Department of the Smithsonian Institute.

7. "The Communicator"

The Hands & Voices newspaper, "The Communicator" has a distribution of over 3000 nationwide. Great features (interviews with Marlee Matlin, Henry Kisor, Marc Marschark, Christie Smith from 'Survivor' and much more) along with cutting edge news (first published interview with Dr. Brenda Schick on her "Cognition in the Classroom" research; 1st national summit on deaf education reform report; latest legislation from IDEA Reauthorizations, and more) four times a year.

8. National Parent Database via Hands & Voices.

Our chapters also have developed/are developing a parent-database in their states with software we've provided to them. This electronic database enables us to communicate via an internet e-tree to parents nationwide on current issues and news, and is uploaded to National annually.

9. Communication Considerations

"Communication Considerations" is our unique series that asks (almost) everything you wanted to know about the implications of your child or student's hearing loss from the foremost experts in the field. It's just one way provide information to families about communication choices, issues and impacts--modeling professional collaboration. Plus it passes our "sniff test" for equitable presentation of the material. Only from Hands & Voices.

Do you want to get involved in any of this? We hope so because our goals are lofty and there's a lot of work to do. You'll find a membership form in this newspaper that you can fill out and send in, or you can become a member of H&V on-line at www.handsandvoices.org. Of all the many decisions you make on behalf of your child or student today, we believe that "what works for your child is what makes the choice right." Join Hands & Voices: it's one of those right choices.

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