November 2012 Newsletter

As I think about some thoughts and insight from respected professionals who strongly represent one communication mode, the lines from my new favorite song, “What do I stand for…” by Fun, play on the radio. I’ve been belting out the lyrics to this song for several weeks, thoroughly enjoying the beat and desperately trying to sing in tune!

Sometimes, Hands & Voices catches some “heat” by the oral or ASL supporters for not promoting one modality over the over, and this past month we received some criticism that opened the door for good discussion with professionals that I truly respect. I believe that with each controversial situation there is an opportunity to listen and learn.

I am aware that when I share the very personal side of my experience as the mother of two deaf girls, I am opening myself (and this organization) up to individual interpretation and possibly critical feedback regarding the way I have chosen to personally raise and educate my girls. I know I could unintentionally offend and confuse anyone who reads the newsletter.

The contention regarding communication modality is an interesting issue for me to personally grasp. In one corner of the boxing ring stand the Deaf Community and in the other corner, the Auditory Verbal community. The ring is filled with passion from both sides strongly defending their perspective. In the midst of the passionate debate stand the parents, other modes of communication and Hands & Voices.

In light of the recent critiquing, I wanted to use this newsletter to clarify the mission and purpose of Hands & Voices.

Hands & Voices is a parent-driven, international, non-profit organization that provides unbiased support to families of children with hearing loss. We believe, and I strongly stand for and believe, that every child has the right to access language and has the right to communicate in the way that will work best for that child and family. In our Hands & Voices “family” we have children who speak only, sign only, speak and sign, and some who use technology to hear with and gestures to “talk” with.

At Hands & Voices, we understand the difference between a Personal Belief System and a Bias. Sometimes, our newsletters may appear to lean towards one form of communication, when other times, it may remain more neutral. It can be a fine line between a Personal Belief System and a Bias which is why we work very hard to maintain neutrality.

The purpose of the newsletter, website, Guide By Your Side program, and webinars is to educate parents. We are there to provide support, help connect families together, and provide resources that best meet the needs of the child(ren) and families.

Parent education is a focal point of this organization so that parents can make the best possible choices amongst the myriad of decisions they need to make on behalf of their child. We are also here to help professionals in the industry voice their expertise so that families know what resources are available and what choices they have for their child(ren).

“Settle down…. it’ll be all right..”; my other favorite song that happened to come on the radio next. It’s a good reminder that things will be all right. Look what has been accomplished for 300+ families in Oregon in three years! Look at the 10-year old, 6-year old and 3-month old we are helping today!

“All the single ladies.. all the single ladies… put your hands up..”! Oh, Beyonce, thank you for coming on the radio next and reminding me to have some fun and not get too wrapped up in the “ring”. What is important is that I know, and our organization knows, what we stand for. I think the work we have done so far exemplifies that. We have an opportunity to form partnerships and to listen to those who know more than us so that we can in turn share that knowledge with our families.

So let’s get up and sing and dance with our kiddos! Music is a universal language that only requires us to have fun!

Next month we will be offering a special newsletter about modes of communication, prospective outcomes, parent resources and questions parents should ask. I am very excited about this upcoming issue.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you! We have so much to be thankful for!

Warm regards,


Technology with Tots Article:

Services in the Classroom, part 2 Article:

Holiday Time and your Deaf/Hard of Hearing Child Article: