Community Partnerships Empower Families: Spotlight on Hands & Voices

Published on June 15, 2021

This image is taken around the time when the sun is about to set. It shows a wooden walking area near a beach and there is a family of four walking on it.

Coretta Scott King once said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” By this measure, the parents of deaf children who make up the organization Hands & Voices (H&V) certainly help make their community great.

It’s in that spirit of community that the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) spoke with Lisa Kovacs, director of programs and FL3 Center director, and Candace Lindow-Davies, director of outreach, from Hands & Voices to tell us more about the work they do.

Empowering Deaf People and Their Families Through Community

At the center of every program, chapter, and service that H&V provides, you’ll find parents who have stepped up to create change and empower their deaf children.

“It’s all about coming together with that common lived experience of being parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and being a place where everyone feels welcome,” said Lindow-Davies.

With forty-one chapters in the US, two in Canada, and one in Kenya that all serve families from birth to the exit of school, H&V has certainly found many parents ready to come together to empower their children, and each other, for success.

Training Parents and Deaf Youth to be Advocates

Hands & Voices has developed a series of services and resources focused on training parents to become advocates for themselves, their children, and other families with deaf children. The goal is to provide support and training to parents, so families can be confident in their ability to fully engage in their child’s education. The ultimate goal is for the child to become their own advocate.

“Parents are modeling for their kids,” explained Kovacs. “Kids can see parents in an individualized education program (IEP) meeting, for example, when they’re in first grade and see that they are advocating for them. Eventually, you have students that are in third and fourth grade who are doing PowerPoints for their own IEP meeting. It’s really fantastic. Then, when they hit transition age, advocating for themselves is a no-brainer to them because they’ve been doing it for so long.”

This goal of creating advocates and empowering deaf youth through family support can be seen in all of their programs and services. Many of these programs are active this summer and can assist parents of deaf youth with transitioning through COVID-related adjustments.

  • Guide By Your Side trains family leaders and deaf leaders to provide direct support to families who have just learned of their child’s identification as deaf or hard of hearing. This program includes Parent Guides and Deaf Guides, who may or may not be parents themselves, who share their lived experience being deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Leadership-to-Leadership develops parent leaders by enhancing their own natural ability with learned skill development through formal and informal learning opportunities.
  • ASTra – Advocacy, Support, and Training includes a deaf-specific educational advocacy curriculum which trains family members and professionals who seek the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills to advocate for their own child or a student they work with.
  • The Military Project includes trained family leaders from all five branches of the U.S. Military who support parents of children who are deaf and their unique needs within the active duty and retired armed forces community.
  • The O.U.R. Children Safety Project is a community of learners focusing on the importance of child safety and teaching ourselves and others how best to Observe, Understand, and Respond to children who are deaf and keep them protected from abuse, neglect and bullying.
  • The Fostering Joy Project is a family/professional effort celebrating the joy of raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Increasing Family Support Boosts #DeafSuccess

NDC data and research supports this approach that focuses on families supporting and fostering deaf youth’s self-determination. In the report Effects of Parent Expectations and Parent Involvement on Postschool Outcomes for Deaf Individuals, NDC found that deaf teenagers with stronger family support are more successful after high school.

H&V’s programs model positive behavior to deaf youth. Family support can help children succeed by empowering them to make their own decisions, communicate about their preferences, and advocate for their needs

Other Resources

Save This

Other News Items

NDC Slides (3)
February 27, 2023
All News
...For deaf youth, summer camps bring opportunities to build relationships and strengthen skills for future endeavors. Whether they are day camps focused on coding, virtual programs in the arts, or overnight outdoor adventures, research shows that summer programs can have a significant positive impact on the lives of deaf youth....
Screen Shot 2023-02-24 at 10.26.29 AM
February 24, 2023
All News
...On February 16, 2023, NDC hosted an event, Exploring Interpreter Shortages in Postsecondary Settings, to which the response was overwhelming. 100 participants were able to join us during that listening session—thank you for sharing your perspectives and engaging in constructive dialogue. We apologize to the participants who were unable to join the session due to technical difficulties. We have resolved and made the necessary adjustments for the next upcoming session....
February 2, 2023
All News, Online Learning and Courses, Resources and Initiatives
...NDC open badges are here! Open badges are verifiable credentials earned by participation in and completion of NDC sponsored activities. Badges  are a visual representation of participant learning journeys, accomplishments, and mastery; and serve as documentation for engagement in online learning, webinars, and targeted activities....

Need Help?

Fill out this form to get help from the NDC team.  Can’t see the form below? Click here to contact the NDC team.