Parents Bridge Gap between
Research & Practice


There are the professionals doing the mind-bending work of research in deaf education, and there are the educators working it out in the classrooms everyday.  In this day and age, the No Child Left Behind Act pulls the two parties together with its requirement that teachers use “scientifically-based instructional practices” that have some evidence in research as being effective and replicable.  One of the challenges faced by both parties is accessibility to each other’s work and expertise.

Hands & Voices recently took this on by stepping into the gap between research and practice at the invitation of Harold Johnson, PhD.  Dr. Johnson is Principal Investigator of a federally-funded grant designed to improve teacher training programs and, ultimately, educational outcomes for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, by joining stakeholders through a variety of research and training activities.   In partnership with this “Join-Together Grant” at Michigan State University, Hands & Voices committed to the goal of disseminating “Recommended Instructional Practices in Deaf Education” via H&V parent leaders in participating chapters nationwide.

“Recommended Instructional Practices in Deaf Education” (RIPDE) are available as a resource to any parent or educator, including teachers of the deaf and general educators at  This website was developed and supported by the Join-Together Grant.  Participating H&V parents received training on recommended practices by Dr. Johnson and H&V project coordinator, Leeanne Seaver, at the annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference.  These parents then continued researching in greater depth via the website’s many articles, resources and on-line training curriculums.  They could then choose to focus on disseminating information about the recommended practices in deaf ed to professionals and parents in their state, or they could choose a specific instructional practice to use with their own child.  Some parents chose both options.

In September, final reports sharing what was learned and accomplished were filed from  13 states by 23 parents.  Some of the highlights:

Idaho H&V’s Lisa Corgatelli wrote a detailed review of the resources with specific recommendations on how to make this site more user-friendly for parents.

In Colorado, DeeAnn Westfall presented RIPDE to her school district. “To my surprise there ensued a lively discussion of the importance of such a thing as the Recommended Practices and I was asked many questions about how word was being spread and what they could do to help. I was challenged to develop a presentation for preschools and childcare centers by the agency that licenses them and will have to bring more detailed handouts and an update on this project to next month’s meeting.”  Janet DesGeorges said, “This project felt like just the beginning. For the first time, parents have on their radar screen some understanding of not just “accessing” education, but also the actual curricula practices that should be considered when participating as equal members of their child’s IEP team.”

Indiana EHDI professional and IN H&V board member Julie Schulte created a survey and sent it to a vast IN listserv to assess awareness of Recommended Practices plus a introductory letter with a call-to-action to

IN H&V president Lisa Kovacs shared that her husband has changed his bedtime reading routine to incorporate some of the literacy strategies she shared with him from her research. “We stop and think about our predictions and change them if we want to. After reading, we think back on our predictions and summarize what we had read. We are doing this nightly with Anthony and his twin sister. They both love the activity and will actually remind us if we start reading before we have made our predictions or after reading if we don’t summarize. It’s great. It’s also fantastic to hear my husband reading to the kids this way as well. I have always been the one who has worked with our son and my husband actually over heard us doing this one night and he thought it was great and now he works on this as well.”

Michigan’s Kristie Medes created an at-home teaching activity that is easy for parents to use.  Ellen Milne, a parent and educator, took a comprehensive approach using the same idea and created an entire curriculum with activities that parents can give teachers to use with DHH students.

In New Mexico, Chris O’Conner, parent and teacher, along with parent Denise Romine, created a flyer that went out to families and teachers.  It featured an at-a-glance summary of each of the 20 Recommended Practices for quick parent reference.

Those are just a few of the great projects that emerged through the JT Grant/Hands & Voices partnership. Each participant submitted a report highlighting their project and projecting how many people were reached with this information via their extensive dissemination efforts in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Bridging the gap between research and practice with parents resulted in an estimated “reach” of this information to 8575 people nationwide.

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