Hands & Voices Chapter Updates

Every day, our Hands & Voices chapters are connecting with families and doing some awesome work.  Here’s a quick summary  and highlights from several chapters:



Michigan now has 14 Parent Guides in the GBYS Program and has increased the number of families served by 300% in one year.  At the end of a second visit recently, the Parent Guide said to the Spanish-speaking family that she hoped she had been able to help them. The mother replied through the interpreter, “Oh, you have helped us so much. You have given us a recipe to bake a cake!”



The GBYS Guides recently received training on “Cover Oregon,” the state-funded insurance programs and Medicaid.  Leadership training will be provided in June.  The GBYS program is partnering with EHDI to reach out to the homebirth and midwifery community as well as improving data collection.



Five new guides have joined the GBYS Program. MN H &V hosted an Annual Roller Skating event during a very icy cold night in January.  113 people attended and had a chance to network and meet several adult role models who are deaf and hard of hearing, along with a fabulous representative from the Roller Girls and the team mascot!  Upcoming events include another collaboration with the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre, summer playgroups, and developing webinars and culturally-specific parent groups. MN H & V will be hosting the first ASTra Educational Advocacy Training based on the new Educational Advocacy book.


BC, Canada: 

BC H & V recently completed a GBYS Parent Guide training.  They are conducting interviews for another Parent Guide position.

BC H & V  had an amazing Unilateral Coffee Night last month. Great support happening between families plus an adult with unilateral hearing herself offered wonderful attitude and perspective on growing up with unilateral hearing.  BC H & V will be doing more of these specialized coffee nights in future.



Illinois now has 16 guides and recently completed a training. IL H & V  hosted a “network event” during a teacher conference which allowed the guides to introduce themselves to the participating professionals/organizations and then we allowed each organization five minutes to share about their organization and leave each guide with their materials. We had over 20 organizations participate giving us a “one stop” experience to learn more about each other.  IL H & V held two Mom’s Night Inns, one in the Chicago area and another in the central part of the state and they are gearing up for a spring family event.  IL President, Andrea Marwah held an IDEA training at the ITHI Conference.



DE H & V brought Harold Johnson out to speak at Delaware’s Still Listening, the state Department of Health hearing loss conference to introduce the O.U.R. Project.   DE H & V is working on setting up a series of Kidpower workshops.

In the works is a social event for families at the Delaware Natural History Museum with free admission, snacks, and interpreted tours.  After all, everybody loves dinosaurs.

New Mexico: 

 NM H & V will be establishing a GBYS program soon. The Christmas gift-wrapping fundraiser was a success.



The VA GBYS is now up to 150 families (23 are Spanish speaking) since August 2012. GBYS training is coming up in April.  Two “Meet and Greet” gatherings for families are coming up.



TX H & V just finished an annual GBYS training which included a break-out session for D/HH Guides.  Texas has nine Parent Guides (Four Spanish speaking) and four D/HH Guides. The number of families served is growing. TX H & V hosts an average of eight family events per month and recently produced videos in English and Spanish for a companion parent site.



KY H & V has been involved in several activities, including Lexington Hands Alive, a teen panel, Explore Your Future, New Beginnings Riding Program, Family Learning Vacation, and a parent night. A Big Brother/Big Sister initiative is in the works as well as a proposed Senate bill requiring hearing tests for all children prior to entering school.  KY H & V welcomed three new board members to the team.



WI H & V GBYS is using Tele-Connect options to pair Guides with families.  Face-to-face contact is still the best option, but the Tele-Connect option works well if families have a sick child or in the case of  inclement weather.  Two Spanish-speaking Guides have joined the team.


CO H & V has a new GBYS Coordinator, Liesel Thomas, a parent of two deaf children.  Her story is here:  The Thomas Family: A Story of Passionate Perseverance in Parenting.   CO H & V is partnering with two deaf organizations to create a Role Model program and is also working with a graduate student to survey EHDI experiences and parent to parent support for families with deaf and hard of hearing children.



WA H & V GBYS is in the fourth year and has one coordinator and six Parent Guides. The goal is to increase the referrals and work with more families as well as hosting events. 



NV H & V GBYS recently hired a new Parent Guide for the Vegas area and looking to add a Spanish-speaking Parent Guide.  Working closely with the state EHDI program and looking to expand services to families.


TN H & V will be offering monthly open conference calls to share resources and connections.  The final revisions of the TN Resource Guide for Families of Deaf & Hard of Hearing Children are being worked on.  The Advocacy Committee is working on a Deaf Child Bill of Rights.



PA H & V GBYS is now getting direct referrals from the Department of Health.  A total of ten Parent Guides have been trained and offer a diverse background of experiences.  Parents can be matched up with more than one Guide if they have specific interests.



GBYS training, website, and brochure are under way with a focus on collaboration and outreach with agencies and organizations.  The Guides will be attending upcoming parent workshops and EHDI. NE H & V continues to collaborate with the “Connect” program and the monthly reading program which connects families with D/HH adults.


UT H & V hosted two activities in February, a Night at the Capitol (pizza, met with legislators, and toured the Capitol) and a family game night that was popular with families with young children.  Utah is focusing on outreach and activities to families in the rural areas of the state.


MS H & V is moving along toward chapter authorization and accepting applications for board members.  They held a Valentine’s banquet and attended many state conferences and workshops.


IA H & V has welcomed several new board members and continues to build up the GBYS program and plan for the upcoming Hearing Loss Symposium.


ME H & V held a family winter event which involved sledding, building snowmen, and popcorn and hot chocolate.  The group is working hard to incorporate GBYS into the state and expanding their board with new parents.


WY H & V added a Fundraising/Grant Specialist to the team. The 2nd Annual Night 5K is in the works.  Hearing Aid legislation did not pass, but the state funded a Hearing Aid program to cover hearing aids for children.


GA H & V is gearing up for the Hands & Voices Conference to be held in the fall and has just submitted the GBYS application.  The chapter is participating in a number of projects, coalitions, and initiatives: Let Georgia Hear (insurance coverage for children’s hearing aids), Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy, UNHSI State Stakeholders’ Group.


February 26, 2014 the Manitoba chapter launched!

These are just some of the updates we’ve highlighted from our recent GBYS/ H &V Chapters meeting. We will share more updates in future posts. It is truly exciting to see each program in action!