Maria Renninger recalls seeing the word “refer” flash on the screen after her baby girl’s hearing screening hours after birth, and wondered what it meant. “Refer to what? The operating manual?” She found herself wishing for an operating manual many times during her early years as a new mom and on her unexpected journey raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing.
This is just one of the 26 personal reflections shared in a new book by Hands & Voices, We Are Hands & Voices: Stories for Families Raising Children Who Are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, from moms and dads raising children who are deaf or hard of hearing, with a few insights from young people finding their way, and six gems from women who are Deaf or hard of hearing themselves.
“It wasn’t cheating, it was playing fair,” notes Stephanie Olson, when her sister and brother signaled her how to get to home base during nighttime games in her neighborhood, in the darkness only imaginable far from city lights. Over time, hearing parents learn much from their children and from adults who have hearing differences that begin to shed light on what daily life is like, and CAN be like, when we begin to experience the world as our children do. Playing fair means understanding access and appreciating differences.
Knowing that there is no better way to connect than the art of story, four experienced moms (Karen Putz, Stephanie Olson, Janet Des Georges and Sara Kennedy) put this book together to shed light on the journey and to celebrate our children, who teach us again and again that “the little things are not little at all,” just as author and mom Bianca Birdsey says about raising her daughters who are deaf in South Africa in her story.
Here is what others are saying about the book:
“I was overwhelmed when our daughter was diagnosed as deaf, and I searched for the stories of other parents who had helped their children navigate through a hearing world and lead productive, fulfilling lives. It was these connections, like the ones detailed in “We Are Hands & Voices,” that allowed me to understand that I was part of a larger, welcoming community. The powerful insights and wisdom you will find in this book will inspire you. I wish it had been around 16 years ago!”
– Lee Woodruff, parent and best-selling author
“Positive parental supports is an integral part of a child’s life. Having the support of other families who have walked a similar path, well, that’s priceless.”
– Andrea Marwah, parent and Illinois Hands & Voices, President
“One of the best outcomes of a book of stories is that it illustrates the varying experiences, individual characteristics, and often unpredictable paths taken by individuals and families. Stories break down walls. In this book you will find that it is not hearing status that defines who these people are; rather it is their life experiences that shape who they become.”
– Cheryl Johnson, parent and advocate, Co-Founder of Hands & Voices
“These deaf kids may have a hearing loss, but their hearing loss doesn’t necessary mean that it has, controls, operates or owns them. This book has great and incredible insight on how our hearing loss doesn’t necessarily define us, but that we define who we really are.”
– Justin Osmond, member of the world-renowned Osmond Family, motivational speaker and author
The digital copy is available on Amazon: HV Stories for Families
To order hard copies or bulk orders: