Support Families in Your Community
The NAD encourages members of the deaf community to provide information and support to families of deaf and hard of hearing children and the professionals who work with them. As a member of the deaf community, you care deeply about deaf and hard of hearing children. You want families to have the information they need – including information about the lives of successful deaf adults – so their decisions can be fully informed. You may want to know about ways that you can become more involved in supporting families and professionals. Here are some suggestions.
- Join your state’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) advisory panel. Every state has an EHDI advisory panel. This panel helps guide the activities of EHDI programs. The panel includes medical and educational professionals, as well as parents. Many panels have designated seats for a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Locate information about your state’s EHDI program at http://infanthearing.org/states/index.html.
- Participate in state and national EHDI conferences. These conferences tend to occur annually, and conference organizers generally seek workshop proposals from interested and knowledgeable individuals. Maybe you work with young deaf and hard of hearing children and their families; are familiar with new technology; know about resources in the community; can put together a panel of successful deaf adults; or have a related area of expertise. Share what you know.
To learn more about conferences in your state, contact your state’s EHDI program (see http://infanthearing.org/states/index.html).
To learn more about upcoming events related to EHDI, see http://www.infanthearing.org/events/index.html.
- Become a mentor. Some states and communities have a program that links deaf adults with families of deaf and hard of hearing children. The mentor may help the family learn American Sign Language, provide communication strategies, and/or serve as a role model. The program provides training and information to the mentor so that he or she can be most effective. To find out if a mentor program exists in your state or community, contact your state’s EHDI program (see http://infanthearing.org/states/index.html), state association of the deaf, state office/commission for deaf and hard of hearing, and/or school for the deaf.
- Join and become active in parent and professional organizations. Local, state, and national groups hold meetings and events, publish materials, and sponsor other activities. Many organizations depend on knowledgeable volunteers to help them conduct their activities. Find out how you can contribute.
- Make yourself available through informal networking. Let others know that you are available to serve as a resource in your community to parents trying to learn more about raising a deaf or hard of hearing child. Volunteer at schools with deaf and hard of hearing programs and related community events.
Parents of deaf and hard of hearing children are thirsty for information, and the deaf community has a wealth of experience to share. Let’s do what we can to offer our support.