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Spring (Apr 2019)
FNDC values sharing information to deaf children, families, professionals and the
communities that support them. These events, advertisements and/or articles do not
necessarily reect the viewpoint of FNDC or offer an endorsement
Twitter: @FNDC andDYT
I revised an article I wrote 19 years ago (June 2000) and it still rings
true today
I remember a quote from Dr. Joe McLaughlin: “Language increases
with socialization. Thats the entire philosophy of our Deaf Youth
Today program. While your children think the program is just fun –
we know they are soaking up lots of new language (ASL), and that’s
our goal!
I am extremely passionate about language exposure and devel-
opment. When our daughter Mari was diagnosed as deaf, we
immediately joined the John Tracy Oral Program. In those days, it was
a mail-in correspondence course. Obviously, we weren’t one of their
major success stories, but what I learned: TALK, TALK, TALK. That same
philosophy was carried over when we signed to Mari: SIGN, SIGN,
SIGN. I gured out very quickly, the real philosophy is LANGUAGE
EXPOSURE. We needed to immerse our child in language. For our
deaf child, that language was ASL.
Language exposure isn’t only important during the early years, but
it’s an ongoing process and needs to be present during the deaf/hh
child’s entire day and evening—all year long! We can’t expect a deaf/
hh child to develop equal language compared to their hearing peers,
when exposed to language for only part of their day.
If your deaf/hh shows you that signing gives them full access and
inclusion to their family, community, and classroom environment,
that’s fabulous! We know that there are many hard of hearing
children that have access and inclusion using both listening and
spoken language, and some deaf/hh children bounce back-and-forth
between spoken language and signed language very easily—that’s
great too!
As parents, we need to assess all the time – ensuring that our deaf/hh
children have a full, growing language that it is age appropriate for
their access and inclusion in every aspect of life.
But, back to language exposure: could you imagine what would
happen to a hearing child if you only exposed them to language for a
few hours a day? Would you expect the child to have good commu-
nication with parents? How would they feel? Would they feel a sense
of belonging with peers? Could they learn appropriately at school?
What would community participation look like if they were several
years behind in their language development? What would it take
to catch them up? When you think about your answers above (and
common sense says we could never do that to hearing children), yet
why do we do this to deaf and hard of hearing children?
Think about the age of your deaf/hh child and spend some time with
hearing children of the same age – what is their language like? Does
your deaf/hh child only use nouns and verbs and discuss concrete
things? Have they become critical thinkers? Are they using their
imagination, comparisons, discussing abstract concepts, using
complex humour, etc.?
Assess your deaf/hh child’s language. If your child has additional
complex needs, language may be a struggle. Acknowledge those
dierences, but don’t limit your child’s access to language.
Language is not taught—it is acquired through exposure. With a
rst-language base, second and third languages may be taught. For
deaf/hh children who have limited exposure to a full rst language
FNDC Spring • 2019
(having a weak-language foundation), language development is a
dicult feat and is in constant danger of not progressing. Language is
continuously developing throughout our lifetime therefore exposure
is ongoing.
Consider for a moment the importance of family communication.
Recall how much world knowledge is acquired prior to the school-
aged years (ex. children progress through the “why” stage, where
they are open to learning anything and everything). Children in
this stage are like sponges for information. How, without communi-
cation, can families transfer values, norms, expectations, limitations,
and manners - many of the life-skills we hope our children will have?
Hearing children learn from each other, from their siblings, neigh-
bours, parents, TV, and radio - imagine how much regular learning’
deaf/hh children miss because they cannot access language exactly
like their hearing peers?
The goal for all deaf/hh children is that they experience access and
inclusion in their family, community, and educational environment.
Will that child have the language needed to build strong family
relationships? Will that child have full access to school curriculums
on topics like Shakespeare or Physics? Educational access doesn’t
just mean academics, it includes: the Arts, life skills, sports, and the
biggest one - social development and friendships! It is for these
reasons that ongoing language exposure and development are
critical. How can a deaf/hh child experience belonging if they don’t
have a full language to engage with others?
Expose your child to lots of dierent language models and ll their
brains with all kinds of new and exciting facts and information.
Continue to raise the bar so they aren’t behind their hearing peers in
their language development.
Check out our Deaf Youth Today summer program so your deaf/hh
kids can soak up more ASL this summer!
Language exposure: Bree Sproule as a baby soaking up language from preschooler, Mari Klassen
FNDC Spring • 2019
Counsellor in Training
2D Animation Camp
Hornby Island Kids Camp
Swimkids Week
Explorations Week
Archery Event
Deaf Theatre Week Adventure Watersports
Hero Week
July 7 to 11, 2019
Ages: 8 to 15 years (Deaf/HH only)
$175 before June 23 | Late fee $225 aer June 24
DYT Registration
July 7 to 11, 2019
Ages: 16 to 18 years (Deaf/HH only)
$75 before July 5
July 15 to 18, 2019 | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Ages: 5 to 7 years (Deaf/HH only)
$80 before June 30 | Late fee $130 aer July 1
July 15 to 18, 2019 | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Ages: 8 to 15 years (Deaf/HH only)
$250 before June 30 | Late fee $300 aer July 1
July 22 to 25, 2019 | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Ages: 5 to 12 years (Deaf/HH/CODA & SIBS)
$80 before July 7 | Late fee $130 aer July 8
July 26, 2019 (one day) | 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Ages: 10 to 15 years (Deaf/HH only)
$25 before July 12 | Late Fee $35 aer July 19
July 29 to Aug 1, 2019 | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Ages: 5 to 15 years (Deaf/HH only)
$80 before July 14 | Late fee $130 aer July 15
August 6 to 8, 2019 | 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Ages: 5 to 15 (Deaf/HH/CODA & SIBS)
$80 before July 22 | Late fee $130 aer July 23
August 12 to 15, 2019 | 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Ages: 5 to 12 (Deaf/HH only)
$80 before July 28 | Late fee $130 aer July 29
Proudly hosted by the Tribune Bay and DYT sta! Campers will
participate in a variety of activities including paddle boarding,
kayaking, beach combing, hiking, climbing, rappelling, high
and low ropes, group games, sports, drama/skits, campre fun,
deaf-friendly activities, and interactive workshops.
In the CIT program at Hornby Island, you will learn from DYT
Sta, participate in training and workshops, gain leadership and
communication skills, team building, interpersonal relations and
participate in campre performances.
Our morning swim lessons will help campers discover condence
and joy in the water without the fear and distraction that can
come with large, crowded swim classes. Highly trained
instructors will work alongside our DYT sta so that throughout
the lessons your child can stay focused on learning to swim.
DYT will be working with BYTE CAMP to host this Specialized
2D Animation Camp. Turn your drawing skills into awesome
animation skills on our tablets! We will show you how to make
beautiful animations as wild as your imagination. Participants
will learn storyboard skills and use some advanced animation.
Explorations Week will oer our campers rich and diverse
activities within a dynamic and safe environment. Our
thoughtfully structured program includes a day to explore at
Science World, a shing lesson at Lafarge Lake, art and water
activities, as well as play and social time outdoors.
All campers will be taught by certied instructors and learn how
to shoot a recurve bow (with the opportunity to try compound
and longbows), range safety, equipment set up, scoring, and will
develop the skills needed to become a safe and consistent archer.
Campers will be introduced to fun, interactive drama
activities lead by experienced Deaf Mentors. e camp will allow
your child to unleash their creativity through movement,
improvisation, ASL, and dance. Your child will have an
opportunity to work with Deaf Actors and Mentors.
DYT will be working in collaboration with Windsure at Jericho
Beach to introduce the campers to 3 days of Adventure
Watersports! Will be taught Stand up Paddleboarding,
Skimboarding, Canoeing and Windsurng.
Hero Week will be both on and o-site at Burnaby South. is
camp will introduce campers to a variety of fun activities and
education about our local and historic Police Department as well
as an introduction to Knighthood and medieval times.
To Register or More Details
Deaf Youth Today
Summer Camp 2019
FNDC Spring • 2019
Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre, Hornby Island, BC
Thursday, July 4th to Sunday July 7
, 2019
New this year! Family Network for Deaf Children (FNDC) and our, Deaf Youth Today (DYT) program is now
managing registration for Family Deaf Camp. All registration and payment will be done online.
Family Deaf Camp is for parents with deaf/hard of hearing children and Deaf/hard of hearing parents with their children.
This camp is designed for families that use sign language for all or part of their communication. There is something for
everyone and most of the programs will be interpreted. The Tribune Bay Centre staff (Hornby camp) and DYT (Deaf
Youth Today) staff will be offering family programs and programs for children and adults. Some examples of programs
include: climbing on the tower, hiking, high ropes course, stand-up paddleboards, beach fun, games, mystery hunts,
crafts, kayaking, marine tours (12 passenger boat), campfire stories & skits in ASL.
Accommodation/Meals: Bring your own tent, cooking & camping gear. Outhouse toilets (pay showers are available). A
few meals are on your own. Friday dinner, Saturday dinner and Sunday Breakfast (at the Lodge) are provided for you.
Camp fee: $275. (includes tax) for a family for the weekend camp. FYI: The regular rate is $216.85 per person but you
pay only $275.00 for your whole FAMILY. ONLY IMMEDIATE family may be included in the family rate
(parents/guardians & their kids). NOTE: Any additional adults or children not in your immediate family need to be
approved in advance with FNDC by email and will be added at the individual rate of $125.00. Please email: for this request.
Financial Support: The ‘Ursula Joy - Camp Sponsorship’ ($250.00 for families with a deaf/hh child in financial need who
are attending Family Deaf Camp for the first time in 2019). Contact: to apply.
Accommodation information: As Tribune Bay is a provincial park the use of tents is encouraged. A few cabins and 2
Yurts are available on a first come, first served basis. Cabins and Yurt may be booked at an additional fee of $25.00 per
person for the weekend (sharing may be an option in cabins depending on numbers). CABINS & YURTS must be booked
directly through Tribune Bay at after you have registered/paid for Family Deaf Camp.
2 Yurts (holds 10 people each - prefer two families sharing or one large family).
1 Skylight Cabin (holds 12 people sharing for a large family or several individuals to share).
1 Cabana (holds 3 people but can fit 4 with two adults and 2 young kids).
Camp Space is limited, therefore registering and paying online will secure your place.
Ferry information: We will email you a ferry schedule and information on the BC Experience Card (a ferry card which is
the best rate for the small Hornby- Denman ferries; the card never expires and can be used on large ferry back to
Vancouver. There is no discount on large mainland ferry, only small ferries.
Contact information: Family Deaf Camp & registration questions contact 604-684-1860
Tribune Bay questions & Yurt/Cabin/Cabana Bookings: Alex/Kate Ortwein: 250-335-0080
UPDATE: Camp is now full, but if you wish to be on waitlist
please email:
FNDC Spring • 2019
FNDC Parent Workshop:
Creating Change - There Needs to be a plan!
with DYT Fun Day & DCS childcare
Saturday, June 15, 2019, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm
BCSD Elementary (South Slope Elementary School, Burnaby)
Cost: $20.00 (includes lunch)
Parents want to ensure their children develop into the kind of adults they want them to be. In this workshop
we will discuss things that seem to be going wrong and make plans for making changes.
If a child cannot access a full natural language from birth, there needs to be a plan.
If we cannot provide the right kind of access and the right amount of access needed for first language
acquisition, there needs to be a plan.
We cannot expect children without age-appropriate first language mastery at a particular age, to follow a
curriculum designed for children with age-appropriate language at that age. There needs to be a plan.
If children attend school without age-appropriate first language mastery, at any age, they need a first
language acquisition environment at school. There needs to be a plan.
About the Presenter: Dr. Barbara O’Dea has been connected with Deaf children and adults as well as parents of Deaf
children for 38 years. She taught at the Newfoundland School for the Deaf and, after further academic studies, she
continued her work with Deaf children and adults and began her work educating and informing professionals and
parents. Her focus has been on the abilities and potential of Deaf children when they are provided with the same
advantages as other children in Canada access to language from birth.
Deaf Youth Today - FUN DAY
DYT will run an ASL-rich Day Program for d/hh children and their siblings (ages 5 to 13 yrs) that have a parent
or guardian attending the workshop. Cost will be: $10.00 per child. Bring a bagged lunch for your child.
Deaf Children’s Society of BC CHILDCARE
For d/hh children and their siblings (birth to age 4 yrs), staff from Deaf Children’s Society (DCS) will provide
childcare along with Deaf DYT staff/volunteers. Thank you to DCS for partnering with us to support families
attending this workshop! Cost will be $10.00 per child. Bring a bagged lunch for your child.
ASL/English Interpreters will be provided. Captioning provided upon request.
Registration at
FNDC: Email:
FNDC Spring • 2019
Fun Family Picnic Saturday June 8
10:30 am to 2:00 pm
At: Provincial Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services, 4334 Victory St., Burnaby BC
Hosted by: BC Hands & Voices, Guide By Your Side, BC Early Hearing Program,
CHHA- BC Peer Support Program, Family & Community Services, Family
Network for Deaf Children, Deaf Youth Today
An event for deaf/hard of hearing and deafblind children, their siblings and
parents. We welcome Deaf/hard of hearing parents & their children (CODA).
Join us for a fun day! We will provide:
• Hot dog lunch, entertainment and games for the kids
• An opportunity to mix and mingle with other families and with youth/young
adults who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Please bring with you:
• a salad, fruit or vegetable plate or dessert to share (note: no
freezer/fridge/oven) • lawn chairs/blanket-a grassy area is reserved for
families with infants/toddlers
Registration opening soon @ - Rain or Shine! Free
FNDC Spring • 2019
Meet a deaf art director taking
the world by storm
Storm Smith grew up inspired around anything arty and creative. Today, she is taking
the world by storm as an art director and motivational speaker.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Smith lost her hearing at the age of two to three years old. This
meant relying on her eyes to communicate with the world. From the beginning, she loved
getting her hands on anything visual. She also loved to express her creativity through drawing,
painting, and writing. It wasn’t long before her mom noticed her talents.
“My mom told me that I was gifted at such a young age at what I do,” Smith recalls during her
interview with HearingLikeMe. She embraced artistic and storytelling talents by executing
projects and connecting with people.
Smith attended Gallaudet University, a deaf-friendly university. There she communicated in
American Sign Language (ASL) with her peers. Today she uses a mixture of ASL and speech.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, Smith undertook numerous
jobs. She dabbled in photography and filmmaking, but never considered them for a career.
That is, until she received encouragement from a mentor while in graduate school. She made a
short film in a week despite not having any film background or formal training. When she
came in fifth place in a film festival, she quit grad school and began making films.
FNDC Spring • 2019
As Smith told PopSugar, she became the main specialist, producer, and director at Gallaudet in
their communications and marketing department. For two years, she produced content for
them. Then the new president of Gallaudet the first female president in 152 years
appointed her to “build out more visibility for the deaf and hard of hearing community around
the world.” This allowed her to build her craft as a storyteller, she says, and is how she was
recognized and recruited by a global leading advertising agency in New York City. Now she’s an
art director for the agency, and the first deaf female there, no less.
In the same PopSugar interview, Smith said that because of her deafness and being a woman
of color, she’s on a mission to make the world more inclusive and diverse. She also wants to
inspire “other aspiring creatives to pursue the life of their dreams.”
Proactive and positive
As part of her mission, one of Smith’s
goals is to increase awareness in the
workplace, where communication can be
challenging for people with hearing loss.
“Be proactive and make it work, no
matter how difficult,” says Smith about
working with hearing loss. “You have to
self-advocate and raise awareness for
hearing colleagues to meet halfway communication-wise. This way, both worlds can work
together effectively.”
To communicate with her colleagues, Smith uses technology tools such as notes and voice to
text apps.
Facing adversity and aiming high
Despite her success, Smith has faced her share of obstacles in life. In addition to her hearing
loss, she’s dealt with racism and sexism. As a result, she felt hurt, confused, and upset. Over
the years she discovered her true self by investing in resources, such as therapy sessions,
books, and seeking valuable support from family and friends.
“A new perspective of light, positivity, and hope, with the declarations of ‘I love myself’ and
‘unconditionally accept for who I am,’ helped me overcome the circumstances and become
stronger each time,” she says. “These strong words of advice show how important it is to put
yourself first, accept your hearing loss, and to “always find a way when you face obstacles.”
Smith encourages others to face challenges with adversity and to gain the tools needed to
overcome obstacles.
FNDC Spring • 2019
“We all don’t have it all figured out and can’t always be too prepared,” says Smith. “As long we
have the adversity tools to overcome, nothing will be in the way and will be a step closer to
our dreams and goals.”
Motivating others
The drive she found inspired her to become a motivational speaker alongside her day job. She
presents talks, lectures, and workshops on popular subjects of storytelling. Her dream is to
become a producer and director for studio work. “I want to incorporate representation and
the human experience that really reflects all of us,” she told PopSugar. “I want that to be on
screen, for that to inspire people especially deaf youth, deaf youth of color, deaf youth who
are girls of color to have them to see that and go, ‘Wow, I can go just as far as you can,
Recently she was invited to speak at a creative summit about “Visual Accessibility and
Maximizing Audiences with Creative Captioning.” Her presentation provided new eye-opening
perspectives and a new way of thinking, especially for businesses.
It’s incredible to see Smith using her platform as a way of inspiring, educating and raising
awareness to others. Speaking publicly enables her to “give back to communities by sharing
my experiences and resources that they deserve to thrive for bigger things in life,” she says.
“Any types of disability, including a range of hearing loss, is a massive struggle in this society,”
Smith adds, “but as long we tap the relatable stories and resources with the light of
possibilities in the distance, nothing can stop us. We become warriors.”
Smith’s main motto remains clear: “Always remember any types of obstacles you face does
not define who you are.”
The writer of this Article:
Ellie Parfitt
Ellie was born profoundly deaf, uses verbal communication, lipreads and
Ellie hasn’t let her disability stand in the way and embraces every new
challenge. Her deafness didn't prevent her from achieving major
a local newspaper as well as blogging for Hearing Like Me. She is passionate about deaf
FNDC Spring • 2019
FREE CONFERENCE in Fresno, California
For more information:
The Second Annual Scarlett's Park Conference focusing on Deaf and
Hard of Hearing Children with Autism
Date: September 27 & 28, 2019
Location: Fresno State Campus, Satellite Student Union
Topic: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Conference Will Address
1. New DSM-5 criteria for
diagnosing autism
2. Red flags indicating a possible
diagnosis of autism spectrum
disorder (ASD)
3. Evidence-based treatment
methods for DHH children with
4. Modifications to evidence-
based treatment methods for
DHH children with ASD
5. Sensory considerations for
DHH children with ASD
6. Family centered service
delivery for birth to 3 DHH
children with ASD
7. Multicultural considerations in
service delivery for DHH
children with ASD
8. Support for DHH people with ASD throughout the lifespan
9. Occupational and recreational opportunities for DHH adults with ASD
Keynote Addresses
1. Won't you be my neighbor? How Mister Rogers' Neighborhood can give us the answers we need to support
children who are Deaf and have Autism by Christen A. Szymanski
2. Be Their Advocate: Amplifying the Needs of Your DHH Child with ASD by Rosangela Jaech
3. Red Flags: The Presentation of ASD in Children who are DHH & Considerations for Support and
Intervention by Amy Szarkowski
4. Opening the Door that Got Stuck: Exploring Pathways of Communication for Children on the Autism
Spectrum by Jeffery S. Bravin
5. Understanding the DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Autism and Best Practice Assessment Guidelines by Holly
6. Evidence-based Treatment for Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Karen Wilson
FNDC Spring • 2019
FNDC Spring • 2019
CHS Scholarships Program
About the CHS National Scholarship Program
The Canadian Hearing Society proudly offers scholarships to Deaf and hard of hearing
students to help break down barriers to higher education and build brighter futures.
Scholarships of $3,000 a year for full-time students and $1,000 a year for part-time
students are awarded to top qualified candidates who are pursuing post-secondary
education at an accredited institution, inside or outside of Canada. Awards may cover
tuition, residence or educational resources. Additionally, CHS is making a commitment
to award this year’s winners with up to four years in funding to help remove as many
financial barriers as possible, and to significantly reduce the stress of finding funding
each year. The exact number of awards will be dependent on the number and ranking
of qualified applicants.
Eligibility Criteria
Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada;
Applicants must be either hard of hearing or Deaf;
Applicants must be 17 years of age or older and attending an accredited post-
secondary institution in the Fall of 2019 as first-time or returning students; or
mature students, 19 years of age or older.
Application Deadline: May 20, 2019, 4 pm E.S.T.
Date of notification of successful candidates: September 11, 2019 or sooner
FNDC Spring • 2019
FNDC Spring • 2019
Who: deaf and hard of hearing children, ages 9-15
What: Join us for an interactive farm field trip, scavenger
hunt, and outdoor lunch!
When: Saturday May 4
2019 9:45am 2pm
Where: Southlands Heritage Farm
6767 Balaclava St., Vancouver, BC V6N 1R7
Cost: $20.00
Register at:
Registration deadline: April 27
FNDC Spring • 2019
Who: deaf and hard of hearing children, ages 9-15
What: Join us for an interactive farm field trip, scavenger
hunt, and outdoor lunch!
When: Saturday May 4
2019 9:45am 2pm
Where: Southlands Heritage Farm
6767 Balaclava St., Vancouver, BC V6N 1R7
Cost: $20.00
Register at:
Registration deadline: April 27
How to create an accessible home for
eaf and hard of hearing people
For example, people with hearing loss may prefer special accommodations to reduce
environmental sounds, improve safety and enhance the ability to see or communicate.
Some homes may already include a good number of these features. Others may need a
little work. Preferences will vary from person to person, but keeping the following ideas
in mind can help move things in the right direction when looking for a new place, or
customizing the home you’re in right now to be an accessible home for deaf and hard of
hearing people.
Layout and Construction
Open Floor Plan
Open floor plans can enhance one’s ability to see gestures and faces of the people
they’d like to communicate with. Unnecessary walls and doors are a barrier that can
separate living areas in a home. Luckily, open floor plans are a popular design choice
for modern homes, increasing the number of options with this already “built-in”. In a home
where this is not the case, it may still be possible to transition into a more open concept
with relative easejust make sure to be careful when removing walls.
Sound-Dampening Windows
FNDC Spring • 2019
Background noises can be a nuisance or distraction for those with hearing loss who rely
on hearing technology. Windows allow a lot of noise to enter the house throughout the
day. Single pane windows, in particular, offer little protection from noises outside. Dual
pane windows and heavy curtains can help cut back on exterior noises.
Wider Hallways
People who sign or read lips need to see the person they’re communicating with during
a conversation. Narrow hallways prevent people from walking side by side as they talk.
Wider hallways enable people to better communicate while walking next to one another
in the house. One suggestion from Gallaudet’s DeafSpace project is to opt for rounded
corners over 90-degree corners for high-traffic areas. If this is not an attainable or
realistic modification, utilizing decorations like mirrors at the ends/corners of hallways
can help inhabitants avoid bumping into other members of the household.
Echo-Dampening Flooring, Ceilings and Walls
Echo-dampening floors, ceilings, and walls cut back on noise inside the house,
preventing echoes from hindering communication. Carpeting has excellent echo-
dampening properties. Special acoustic wall and ceiling material has the same effect.
The vibrations caused by appliances like a washing machine might be particularly
bothersome or annoying for some people. Modifications may be needed in and around
the areas where they sit.
Tall ceilings cause noise to reverberate, potentially making life difficult for someone who
is hard of hearing. For a person who is building their own home, it’s relatively easy to
work low ceilings into the design of the house. For a homebuyer who is planning to
purchase a pre-owned home, it’s easier to buy a home with relatively low ceilings than it
is to convert a home with high ceilings.
Soft Lighting and Colors
Soft paint colors in natural hues make it easier for people to see and process visual
information. Paint and furniture colors that contrast with skin tones may help in a similar
way. Gentle lighting also helps with these goals. Hanging sheers in the windows help
soften daylight, creating a gentle glow indoors during the day. At night, light from multiple
light fixtures can also be used to create a gentle glow in the house. This mimics the light
found in the home throughout the day.
Appliances & Technology
Technology can be used to improve safety around the house, and many products exist
to assist with specific needs. Specialized smoke detectors and carbon monoxide
detectors can alert homeowners to a problem by flashing bright lights and vibrating. The
same types of alarms can also be used in smart security devices, which can help keep
households safe from intruders.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Motion activated lights can help illuminate the property and alert inhabitants when
someone has arrived. Vibrations, blinking lights, and bright lights can help ensure that
people running their appliances know when the appliances are finished. With the advent
of smart technology, there may be even more gadgets and devices on their way in the
future. This is one aspect of a home that may be the most customizable of all. It may
require a good amount of research to truly understand one’s options.
Household Customizations Improve Quality of Life
Cutting out noise/distractions and improving sight lines throughout the home can be
excellent ways to make communication easier for deaf and hard of hearing people. There
are many ways that this can be done, depending on one’s budget or DIY skills. There’s
no one-size-fits-all approach to this, but these principles might help steer things in a
productive direction.
Deaf people inhabit a rich sensory world where vision and touch are a primary
means of spatial awareness and orientation. Many use sign language, a visual-
kinetic mode of communication and maintain a strong cultural identity built
around these sensibilities and shared life experiences. Our built environment,
largely constructed by and for hearing individuals, presents a variety of surprising
challenges to which deaf people have responded with a particular way of altering
their surroundings to fit their unique ways-of-being. This approach is often
referred to as DeafSpace.
When deaf people congregate the group customarily works together to rearrange
furnishings into a “conversation circle” to allow clear sightlines so everyone can
participate in the visual conversation. Gatherings often begin with participants
adjusting window shades, lighting and seating to optimize conditions for visual
communication that minimize eyestrain. Deaf homeowners often cut new
openings in walls, place mirrors and lights in strategic locations to extend their
sensory awareness and maintain visual connection between family members.
FNDC Spring • 2019
These practical acts of making a DeafSpace are long-held cultural traditions that,
while never-before formally recognized, are the basic elements of an architectural
expression unique to deaf experiences. The study of DeafSpace offers valuable
insights about the interrelationship between the senses, the ways we construct
the built environment and cultural identity from which society at large has much
to learn.
The DeafSpace Project
In 2005 architect Hansel Bauman (hbhm architects) established the DeafSpace
Project (DSP) in conjunction with the ASL Deaf Studies Department at Gallaudet
University. Over the next five years, the DSP developed the DeafSpace Guidelines,
a catalogue of over one hundred and fifty distinct DeafSpace architectural design
elements that address the five major touch points between deaf experiences and
the built environment: space and proximity, sensory reach, mobility and proximity,
light and color, and finally acoustics. Common to all of these categories are the
ideas of community building, visual language, the promotion of personal safety
and well-being.
sensory reach
Spatial orientation and the awareness of activities within
our surroundings are essential to maintaining a sense of
well-being. Deaf people “read” the activities in their surroundings that may not be
immediately apparent to many hearing people through an acute sensitivity of
visual and tactile cues such as the movement of shadows, vibrations, or even the
reading of subtle shifts in the expression/position of others around them. Many
aspects of the built environment can be designed to facilitate spatial awarenessin
360 degrees and facilitate orientation and wayfinding.
Space and proximity
In order to maintain clear visual communication individuals,
stand at a distance where they can see facial expression and full
dimension of the signer’s “signing space. There space between
two signers tends to be greater than that of a spoken
conversation. As conversation groups grow in numbers the space
FNDC Spring • 2019
between individuals increases to allow visual connection for all parties. This basic
dimension of the space between people impacts the basic layout of furnishings
and building spaces.
mobility and proximity
While walking together in conversation signers will tend to maintain a wide
distance for clear visual communication. The signers will
also shift their gaze between the conversation and their
surroundings scanning for hazards and maintaining proper
direction. If one senses the slightest hazard they alert
their companion, adjust and continue without
interruption. The proper design of circulation and
gathering spaces enable singers to move through space
light and color
Poor lighting conditions such as glare, shadow patterns,
backlighting interrupt visual communication and are major
contributors to the causes of eye fatigue that can lead to a
loss of concentration and even physical exhaustion. Proper
Electric lighting and architectural elements used to control
daylight can be configured to provide a soft, diffused light
“attuned to deaf eyes”. Color can be used to contrast skin tone to highlight sign
language and facilitate visual wayfinding.
Deaf individuals experience many different kinds and
degrees of hearing levels. Many use assistive devices such
as hearing aids or cochlear implants to enhance sound. No
matter the level of hearing, many deaf people do sense
sound in a way that can be a major distraction, especially for
individuals with assistive hearing devices. Reverberation caused by sound waves
reflected by hard building surfaces can be especially distracting, even painful, for
individuals using assistive devices. Spaces should be designed to reduce
reverberation and other sources of background noise.
FNDC Spring • 2019
The Impact of Language Deprivation on the Overall
Development of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
“Communication Access” Lauralee, age 6
For decades psychologists, medical professionals,
and researchers have known that there is a critical
period for language acquisition in humans. That
critical period is approximately the first 5 years of a
child’s life when there is an elevated neurological
sensitivity for language development (Hall et al,
2017; Gulati, S. 2014). Language deprivation
occurs due to a chronic lack of full access to a
natural language during that critical period. For
Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, parents and
professionals must understand that access to
language and language development is a crucial
part of the of the overall functioning of children and
adolescents. In fact, I might argue, that
understanding its impact is the central issue that
school and clinical psychologists must understand
in order to conduct ethical and effective evaluations
of cognitive, academic and social-emotional functioning. But instead of “nerding” out
about the diagnostic process, let me instead explain language deprivation and what it
looks like in the growing Deaf or Hard of Hearing child, talk about the ways in which
language deprivation can impact the growing child, the grown adult, and whether or not
hearing levels dictate the significance of language deprivation impact.
This article will be heavily ladened with research references for a few reasons: 1) I
hope you can use this for your own resource when you are discussing this issue with
others. 2) I want you, the reader, to understand that my position is based not only on
my 20+ years of experience assessing Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, but also on
years of research in this field. My colleagues in this field have conducted many rich,
valid studies that have helped to elucidate the field and provide the foundation for my
work. Oh and 3) I’m a nerd. I mentioned that, right? I love research and numbers.
What is language deprivation? As I mentioned above, language deprivation occurs
due to a chronic lack of full access to a natural language during the critical period of a
child’s life, the first five years where neuroplasticity is at its peak. First, let’s define
“natural language.” By this I am referring to any spoken or signed language such as
that accepted and generally used by the community / country within which the child
lives. For the purposes of this article, this will mean spoken English (even when the
home language may be Spanish*) and American Sign Language (ASL). ASL is
distinguished from artificial, though helpful, communication systems such as Cued
FNDC Spring • 2019
Speech, which can be used as a tool to help develop English skills. Natural language is
also distinguished from the Listening and Spoken Language approach (LSL), which is
historically known as oralism. LSL is, itself, not a language. It is a systematic approach
to teaching English to Deaf children in the US (or other spoken languages in their
country of origin).
Despite ample research to show that ASL is a formal language with its own grammar
and linguistic rules, less than 8% of Deaf children receive regular access to sign
language in the home (Liddel, SK, 2003; Institute, G.R., 2011). Although using ASL is
encouraged for hearing babies to develop language skills before they can begin to
speak, ASL is not routinely offered as a primary or complementary intervention for
Deaf children; rather, if offered at all, it is often proposed as a last-resort option to Deaf
children who have not developed speech abilities as expected (Humphries, T. et al
2012). This pattern occurs because many advocates, professionals, and educators
believe that ASL acquisition will interfere with a Deaf child’s development of speech
skills (Lyness, C. et al 2013; Sugar, M. 2016; Davidson, et al 2011; Duchesne et al.
2009; Lund 2015; Tobey at al, 2011) despite research showing that children with
cochlear implants who use ASL actually demonstrate better speech skills, language
development and intelligence scores than non-signing children (Davidson, et all 2011;
Hassanzadeh, S. 2012; Amraeri, K. 2016). Based on current research, technological
intervention alone (i.e., hearing aids, cochlear implants) are insufficient as a stand-
alone approach for language acquisition in Deaf children (Humphries et al 2012b; Kral
et al 2016). The research is showing us that hearing aids and cochlear implants, when
used alone (i.e., without the support of ASL) do not give sufficient access to language
to prevent language deprivation in Deaf and Hard of Hearing children.
What does this mean? The truth is, if a Deaf child or Hard of Hearing child does not
have access to ASL they are likely experiencing some level of language deprivation.
Yup, I said it. I am not saying ASL only, ASL instead of, ASL at the exclusion of
speech. I actually believe that children should have options and parents should take
advantage of the tools that the medical field offers them. But the research has spoken
and it is strong: Hearing aids or cochlear implants alone do not provide adequate
access to language and should be used in conjunction with ASL.
How significant is the impact? For decades clinicians have observed that children
who suffered from language deprivation during the critical period have a unique
presentation. We noted that the language of many Deaf and Hard of Hearing children
seemed delayed, more concrete, and lacking in fundamental components despite
attempts to intervene. More recent neuroimaging studies have finally clarified the
reason. Language deprivation during the critical period appears to have permanent
consequences for long-term neurological development (Leybert, J. & D’Hondt, M.,
2003). So much so, that specific timing and quality of language access during early
childhood can cause neurostructural differences (Mayberry et al, 2011; Penicaud, et al
2013; Skotara, et al, 2012).
FNDC Spring • 2019
Language dysfluency and child presentation. Languages (auditory or visual) have
rules and structures that make them languages; language dysfluency is a disruption of
these rules and structures. In Deaf children with dysfluency this may look like limited
vocabulary, lack of time markers (i.e., days, weeks, month, year), inaccurate spatial
organization (a grammatical construct), and a lack of syntax; vocabulary may be more
“concrete” and limited to actions and descriptions the child / adolescent has
experienced directly (Glickman, N.S. 2007).
These children, and later adults, also demonstrate comprehensive knowledge deficits
which are best described as gaps in knowledge due to an accumulate lack of
environmental information or incidental learning (Schenkel, L.S. et al 2014).
Understand that normal acquisition of passive information is made through media,
radio, newspapers, TV, and word of mouth avenues typically not easily accessible to
Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. However, current social media, the internet and
captioned TV makes it easier if Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals have the
vocabulary to access these resources and the communication accessibility at home to
discuss these resources with their family members. When family members do not know
ASL, the captioning is not turned on on TVs around the house, the internet is not
captioned, newspapers or magazines are not available (and age appropriate), Deaf
and Hard of Hearing children only have access to incidental learning during the 4 to 8
hours they are in a signing environment within the classroom (assuming they are
placed with signing peers). The consistent lack of exposure to everyday opportunities
results in an overall loss of understanding of many aspects of societal functioning, such
as school interactions (when they are not in a larger program with Deaf peers),
government functions, personal behaviors, etc. This can have a long term impact on a
Deaf child’s physical, mental and social health.
What areas of functioning are impacted? There does not appear to be any
evidence that language cannot be learned through multiple modalities (i.e. through a
combination of ASL and the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants). Nor does there
appear to be any evidence that using ASL impairs spoken language development, but
there is strong evidence that a lack of language access will cause long term negative
consequences (Lederberg et al 2013). The risk for secondary or tertiary diagnoses in
Deaf or Hard of Hearing individuals seems more magnified due to language
deprivation. There is evidence that language deprivation can cause cognitive delays
(Niparko, J.K. et al 2010; Davidson, L.S., 2011; Tobey, E.A., et al 2011; Lund, E.
2015). Deaf and Hard of Hearing children who have a history of language deprivation
are also more likely to experience abuse, trauma or exploitation (Pollard 2014;
Schenkel et al, 2014). In addition, there are also studies that demonstration that Deaf
and Hard of Hearing children who have suffered language deprivation also have much
higher incidences of behavioral disorders (Stevenson, J. et al 2010; Barker, D.H., et al
2009). Furthermore, language deprivation leads to the inability to develop “theory of
mind” (the idea that other people think differently than you do) (Ketelaar, Rieffe,
Wiefferink, & Frijns, 2012). Finally, the failure to develop adequate language skills may
FNDC Spring • 2019
be associated with failures to develop empathic attunement (empathy) with other
people (Gulati, 2019).
Dr. Neil Glickman described the impact of language deprivation quite well in his
introduction for a Webinar (2018): “The mental health skills we refer to as emotional
self-regulation, or coping, which is the focus of so much contemporary cognitive
behavioral therapy, can be done without language (think of sensory strategies like
rocking or jumping for self-regulation). However, understanding the concept of self-
regulation and advancing beyond sensory movement interventions, requires formal
language. Certainly, language deprivation can dramatically limit one’s set of strategies
for self-regulation.” Glickman goes on to note that interpersonal skills such as
communication, problem-solving, and conflict resolution, which are also common foci
of evidenced-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), require formal language
(Glickman, 2009, 2017).
As mentioned above, language deprivation can have long term consequences on
cognitive skills. I can share from my professional experience that I see a consistent
impact on Verbal IQ as measured by the Wechsler Intelligence Tests. These happen to
be my favorite intelligence tests because they have adapted well over the years, they
give directions for use with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and they include a small
number of Deaf kids in their norming samples now. Of course there are other very
good tests but I won’t go off on that tangent. Back to Verbal IQ. Intelligence, generally
speaking, is the ability to problem solve and come up with new solutions given a new
problem. Easy, right? Not so much. Problem solving, really good problem solving,
requires language, organization skills, high level thinking skills, the incorporation of
past knowledge and experiences, and the ability to develop and test hypotheses in
one’s mind before they come to fruition. I could go on. Intelligence is not just one
construct language or spatial skills, but many different constructs.
Why am I explaining all this? First, because too often I see other psychologists (that do
not frequently work with Deaf or Hard of Hearing students) ignore Verbal skills in Deaf
children or, even worse, assume they are “nonverbal” if they do not speak
(verbal means language not just spoken language). Second, because verbal skills are
most closely linked to academic success. It is important to assess verbal skills of Deaf
and Hard of Hearing children if we are to get an idea of what is impacting their
academic progress. What I have seen time and again is that Deaf and Hard of Hearing
children who have suffered from language deprivation during the critical early years
often have lower Verbal IQ scores later. Frequently, I will see Deaf and Hard of
Hearing children with Average Nonverbal IQ scores but Extremely Low Verbal IQ
scores. I have noticed that when sign language intervention is provided later (after age
5), Verbal IQ scores do improve but never up to the same level as the Nonverbal IQ.
As such, in my experience, the effect of early language deprivation is permanent.
Unfortunately, the most negative impact is on Verbal IQ which is most highly correlated
with academic functioning.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Over the course of my career I have had the honor of assessing or supervised the
assessment of thousands of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children. I have observed that
speech skills are not the same as having good language skills. What does this mean? I
have seen many Deaf and Hard of Hearing children, raised without ASL during the first
5 years, who have intelligible speech and can carry on a conversation with a hearing
person without the use of ASL. However, when I actually test their Verbal IQ, I find the
same profile that I do of any child with a history of language deprivation. Many of these
children can talk but speech is not language. This is an important concept to
understand. Speech is not language. Speech is important but it is one component of
language. Language skills are so much more complex. The most important single
feature characterizing human language is its infinite productivity and creativity (i.e.
ability to problem solve new problems). Human beings are unrestricted in what they
can communicate; no area of experience is accepted as necessarily incommunicable,
even when we discover new things or new modes of thought. Having intelligible
speaking skills does not, however, mean having adequate language skills.
Is there a difference in impact based on
hearing levels? All too often I hear from parents
whose children are not getting support from their
school districts because the staff psychologist or
audiologist or speech teacher has reported that
the hearing loss is not “significant enough” to
require intervention (i.e. a 504 plan or an IEP
delineating special services such as a FM
system, speech services, Resource Specialist
Program (RSP), services by a Deaf and Hard of
Hearing (DHH) itinerant teacher, placement in a
Deaf program, etc.). It is my opinion, that most
hearing loss warrants intervention and support.
Research shows that even “minimal” hearing loss
can have an impact on the educational access of
a child.
This degree of hearing loss has also been
described as “subtle,” “slight,” and “mild.” However, the use of these terms belies the
fact that many individuals with these degrees of hearing loss exhibit more than minimal
difficulties as a result. On this issue I can speak from experience. Over the last 10-15
years I have slowly lost my mid-range hearing (of those consonants in the speech
banana). I still have a “mild” hearing loss, but some days it does not feel mild. In a one-
to-one setting, I do just fine. But put me in a crowd or in a large space (like a classroom
or gym or restaurant) and I get lost quickly. I experience ringing in my ears or I am tired
or I don’t feel like putting in the extra effort to discriminate the words of the people
talking around me. It is a day to day adventure because sometimes I am fine and other
days I would rather not bother.
FNDC Spring • 2019
As early as 1980, research started to emerge that indicated that as many as a third of
children with unilateral hearing loss (UHL) failed at least one grade in school and 50%
either failed a grade or required additional resources (Humes, L.E. et al 1980; Bess,
F.H. & Tharpe, A.M., 1986; Bess, F.H. et al 1986; Culbertson, J.L. & Gilbert, L.E.,
1986; Klee T.M. & Davis-Dansky, E.A., 1986; Bess, F.H. & Tharpe, A.M., 1984; Oyler,
R.F. et a; 1988; Bovo, R. et al 1988; Hartvig Jensen J, et al 1989; Watier-Launey C. et
al 1998). Another important research finding was discovered by Bess and her
colleagues. They found that despite the long-held belief that children with UHL would
have little difficulty listening as long as speech was directed toward their hearing ear
(monaural direct with speech directed toward the normal-hearing ear and noise
directed to the poor ear), Bess et al demonstrated that in quiet or with background
noise, children with UHL had poorer speech perception scores than their normal
hearing peers regardless of the location of the speech signal source (Bess, F.H. &
Tharpe, A.M., 1986). Interestingly, research has not shown specific deficits with
speech and language abilities of children with
UHL versus hearing peers. However, research
has shown lower verbal IQ scores in children with
UHL (Klee T.M. & Davis-Dansky, E.A., 1986).
Environmental factors also impact the Hard of
Hearing child in the classroom. The acoustic set
up in the classroom has a significant impact on
speech perception and learning in children and
ultimately can have a negative impact on
academic progress. Multiple studies have
assessed the poor acoustics in the typical
classroom (Bess, F.H. et al 1984; Knecht H.A, et
al 2002; McCroskey, &F., Devens, J. 1975;
Picard, M. & Bradley, J. 2001) as well as the
adverse effects noise can have on the learning of
children with hearing loss (Boney S. & Bess, F.
1984; Crandell, C.C. 1993; Finitzo-Hieber, T. &
Tillman T. 1978; Hawkins D.B. & Yacullo, W. 1984). Typical accommodations in the
classroom are seating in the front of the classroom, but does the teacher (and student)
also remember to look for noise making items like the air conditioning unit, the door to
the classroom, the tapping from a student’s pencil or kids talking, the cabinets or desk
tops that open and close? Even when the teacher is using a FM system (assuming the
teacher and student are compliant with its use), these noise makers can negatively
impact the effectiveness of amplification. For the Hard of Hearing child, working all day
to filter out these sounds can result in cognitive fatigue. Cognitive fatigue is simply that
tiredness or fatigue that sets in after working on mentally tasking activities for long
periods of time. Hard of Hearing and Deaf children using hearing aids (HAs) or
cochlear implants (CIs) do not have predictable access to sound so the brain can not
really habituate to noise. This means the brain is working harder all day to filter out
noise and understand what is being said. This does not even take into consideration
FNDC Spring • 2019
the noise variations that occur over the course of the day from the classroom, the
playground, the gymnasium, the cafeteria. All of these areas have different acoustic
characteristics and staff members may not all have experience successfully using the
FM system. If a child is coming home exhausted after school or is complaining about
feeling too tired or is having difficulty focusing on lessons in the afternoon, it could just
be from the effort involved in trying to attend to the teacher’s lecture all day, while
filtering out noise.
No matter the hearing loss, the impact is experienced by the person with the hearing
loss. They are the narrators of their own story and their experience needs to be
understood in its entirety. As professionals and parents, we have an obligation to
provide for our children all of the options needed to access their education. Deaf
education has historically been tarnished by the arguments between the “oralists” and
the “manualists”. The fact is, Deaf and Hard of Hearing children need access to their
natural language of ASL and their parents have the right to utilize whatever medical
tools are at their disposal to give their child more opportunities. Deaf children have the
right to grow up bilingualin ASL and English (spoken and / or written). Hearing aids
and cochlear implants (and whatever new medical technology that comes along) need
to be recognized for what they are tools.
Conclusion. Is language deprivation real? Yes. Does it impact the majority of Deaf
and Hard of Hearing children? I would venture to say yes, if they have not had access
to ASL at school and home from birth. Do hearing aids and cochlear implants prevent
language deprivation? When used alone, no. Access to ASL is needed. Access to
visual information is needed. The child’s need for ASL instruction should be assessed
by a qualified team of professionals. Special attention needs to be given to making
sure the classroom is also acoustically accessible if the child is using HAs or CIs.
Language deprivation is preventable. We adults need to prevent it. We can do better
by Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and we should (Hall, 2017).
M. Natasha Kordus, Ph.D. Dr. Kordus received her Ph.D. from Gallaudet University in
Washington DC in 1998. She has since worked at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont,
St. John’s Mental Health Center in Santa Monica and the California School for the Deaf in
Riverside. Dr. Kordus is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, credentialed School Psychologist and
Behavior Specialist. She has her Pupil Personnel Credential in School Psychology and a Clear
Credential in Administration. For the past 9 years she has supervised the Assessment Services
and the California Deaf Education Resource Center at the California School for the Deaf in
Riverside. She is fluent in ASL.
*Note from the author: I am a firm believer that children with true access to multiple languages
can learn them all. For Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in the United States, their access to
Spanish at home varies significantly. For many of the same reasons that hearing aids (HAs)
alone cannot give full access to spoken English, they cannot give access to spoken Spanish
without direct instruction / intervention. Direct Spanish instruction is not provided in most American schools
therefore, the primary challenge is to get our kids first fluent in, ideally, ASL and English.
FNDC Spring • 2019
The Elks and Canadian Royal Purple Society lodges of BC
are hosting the annual Bright Futures Walkathon
in support of BC Family Hearing Resource Society.
Please support Bright Futures for young children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing
and children with speech and language difficulties.
Join us for a family friendly 1.5 km or 3 km fun, non competitive walk/run.
Registration 9 am - Walk 10 am
Aldergrove Regional Park · 272
St & 8
Refreshments and activities following event
Registration Fee: Individuals $20 · Families $30 ~ Fee is waived for those collecting pledges over $50
For information & pledge forms please email: or call 604-584-2827
donate online!
BC Family Hearing Resource Society
Walking for
Bright Futures
FNDC Spring • 2019
Sign Language Is Best for Deaf Children
Researchers dispute value of speech acquisition through technology
How to teach deaf children language has been a controversial issue,
especially with the advent of modern hearing technology.
In an article published in the December 2016 Social Service Review, a group
of researchers, most of whom have hearing loss themselves, says that a
speech only” approach using technology is hurting many deaf children by
preventing them from learning language in their rst critical years, resulting
in impaired brain development and inicting lasting harm on their cognitive
and psychosocial functioning.
A better approach is for parents to begin teaching their deaf children sign
language as early as possible, contend the authors of Avoiding Linguistic
Neglect of Deaf Children.
Deafness is the most common birth defect in the United States. According to
the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.4 of every 1,000 children
are born with some type of hearing loss.
Children diagnosed with hearing loss typically receive hearing aids, cochlear
implants, or both. Hearing aids amplify residual hearing, while cochlear
implants bypass the ear altogether and deliver electronic impulses directly
to the brain.
[Field]Meanwhile, the authors say, promoters of the implants, including the
makers and many doctors, discourage parents from teaching their children
how to sign. Most parents have little experience with deafness—96 percent
of deaf children are born to hearing parents—and rely heavily on this
The problem is that the technology often doesn’t work very well. Learning to
use cochlear implants is dicult. The authors point to a study that looked at
more than 20,000 deaf children who received implants since 2000, and found
that 47 percent had stopped using the devices altogether.
For this reason, the authors say, counting on a deaf child to communicate
using spoken language alone is a huge gamble: “Many deaf children who are
raised using only spoken language do not receive enough access to auditory
information to develop language. The authors call this “linguistic neglect,
and compare it to other kinds of maltreatment.
Indeed, research has shown that children need language to ourish.
Language acquisition promotes cognitive development, psychological
well-being, and social bonds. When children don’t get adequate exposure
to language, their brains don’t develop properly. They become socially and
emotionally isolated. And they become vulnerable to other kinds of abuse
as well.
Teaching children to sign isn’t easy: the parents have to learn the language,
too. But the authors say it’s a more reliable way to introduce deaf children to
language, and to ensure that they receive the cognitive and other benets of
language acquisition. Research shows that children who learn to sign early
do better across a range of measures, including academic achievement, than
children who don’t. It also suggests that children who begin to learn sign
language at birth have more success learning to use cochlear implants to
access speech.
The authors say social workers can play a “key role in addressing the problem
of linguistic neglect. This is because of their involvement in promoting child
welfare, but also because they are in a position to see the consequences of
linguistic neglect in children. The authors say social workers can do more
to inform themselves about the problem, take measures to educate the
public, and promote standards of language acquisition for deaf children that
prevent linguistic neglect.
Were hoping that social workers speak up, says Donna Jo Napoli, Professor
of Linguistics at Swarthmore College and one of the authors.
FNDC Spring • 2019
RBC bridges language barriers with new in-branch
video interpretation app
Real-time multi-language interpretation including American Sign Language marks
a North American financial institution first for two-way video service for clients
TORONTO, August 26, 2016 - RBC today introduced a new language app for branches that provides clients
with real-time video access to qualified interpreters to conduct their banking.
Real-time multi-language interpretation including American Sign Language marks a
North American financial institution first for two-way video service for clients
Communication can sometimes be challenging, especially when there is a
language barrier. For many immigrants to Canada whose first language isn’t
English, it can be a real struggle to understand complicated topics or learn a
new banking system. RBC is also the first financial institution in North America
to offer American Sign Language to its clients through this video app.
“It’s important that our clients can communicate with us in the most convenient way they choose.With a
touch of a button, we can now bridge language barriers in branches from coast to coast -- just one of the ways
that RBC helps clients thrive every day,” said Kirk Dudtschak, executive vice-president, personal & commercial
banking, RBC. “We’re proud to continue to lead the way in providing accessible banking for our clients.”
Available now, this on-demand video service currently offers 13 languages, with more to follow. This ‘video
chat’ format provides the added benefit of visual cues. The app also supports 200 languages through audio
conferencing, a service RBC has offered over the telephone since 2009.
With so many people new to Canada – and to the banking system – needing financial advice, the demand for
interpretation services has been increasing. Without help, their access to banking can be limited.
“Providing newcomers with the ability to have banking conversations in their preferred language is critical to
helping our clients learn about how banking works in Canada and what products and solutions are right for
them. The new language app is useful for anyone who considers English or French a second languageno
matter how long they have lived here,” said Christine Shisler, senior director, cultural markets, RBC.
Fast facts:
How it works: When a client requires interpretation services in a bank branch, a banking advisor will open the
language app on a tablet, and will select the client’s preferred language. In less than a minute, the client will
be connected with qualified interpreters. Using two-way video technology, the client and banker can then
speak directly with the interpreter, who also has access to an optional on-screen whiteboard feature to display
any messages.
Languages offered: 13 are available now through video translation, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean,
Polish, Somali, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Nepali, Russian, and American Sign
Branch reach: The service is available at all RBC branches across Canada.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Learning to sign is easier than ever, thanks to the internet.
The visual language, designed to aid the deaf or hard of hearing, is a
set of gesticulations and hand movements that correspond to the
spoken word.
There are numerous ways to learn American Sign Language (ASL)
outside the old classroom method. From free online lessons to video
tutorials, a world of possibilities is open for those aspiring to teach
themselves this hands-on language.
“I love you” in sign Language
One of the easiest ways to learn sign language is through YouTube tutorials. The video hosting site has dozens
of teachers who give free lessons on how to sign the alphabet, common
phrases, numbers, and more.
Video link:
Here are a few places to start:
Dr. Bill Vicars: The hard of hearing ASL expert has numerous degrees in deaf-centric studies,
according to his bio on Lifeprint. His love of the language is evident on his YouTube page, which hosts
a plethora of ASL lessons.
Expert Village: The YouTube channel is home to lessons on pretty much anything, and is a great source
of ASL videos for beginners. There's an extensive series on common phrases, letters of the alphabet, and
Laura Berg Life: This channel, previously called "My Smart Hands," is especially great because it was
designed with teaching ASL to both adults and young children in mind. It offers videos that share how
to sign temperatures, common phrases, read names, and more. Some videos are even dedicated
to answering viewer questions.
Outside of YouTube, the internet also offers a plethora of resources for those looking to learn sign language,
including quizzes, courses, and more. Here are three helpful options to consider.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Learn sign language with SIGNASL.ORG.
ASL Pro: Don't let the site's old school appearance fool you.
ASL Pro is a free tool with a wealth of quizzes, fingerspelling
practices, and a super detailed dictionary complete with video
examples for learning how to sign hundreds of words.
Start ASL: This online resource offers a variety of courses for
those interested in learning sign language. There's a free three-level coursethat offers workbooks and
activities, along with fingerspelling lessons. And if you're looking for more advanced ASL learning, the
site also offers additional paid courses, both online and office, created and taught by professional ASL
instructors. This online ASL Dictionary is the perfect place to search for words and phrases and learn
their corresponding signs. Simply type in a term and the site will show you a selection of ASL videos
and resources from trusted websites to choose from.
You can also keep a sign language lesson in your very own pocket by downloading an app onto your
smartphone. On-the-go ASL lessons can help you stay refreshed on little things and come in hand when you
need to look something up. Not to mention, apps that teach sigh language will let you study any time, anywhere
There's a variety of sign language apps available for popular Apple
devices, Android devices, and more, but here are a few
recommendations if you're struggling to decide how to learn ASL.
ASL Coach: This free iOS app keeps things short and sweet, teaching you how to master the sign
language alphabet.
ASL: Fingerspelling: The $3.99 iOS app from ASL resource Lifeprinthelps gets users up to speed on
their fingerspelling techniques.
Marlee Signs: Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin is also in on the app game. Marlee Signs is
free for iOS and teaches ASL with video lessons and fingerspelling practice.
Want to test out your skills? We learned the ASL alphabet and gave fingerspelling a
shot. Can you figure out what we spelled? Answer below. Link:
FNDC Spring • 2019
How playing in the Deaflympics introduced me to Deaf culture
My experience at the 2017 Deaflympics was an experience unlike any other.
I found out about the National Deaf
15 years old through my volleyball
coach at the time. She wasn’t sure
loss but still recommend that I try
out. I was in luck, I just qualified,
be on the team. The tryouts also
luckily happened to be in my
hometown of Edmonton at the
Becoming a part of the team
When I found out that made it on the team, I was extremely excited. I participated in my first international
competition at the 2016 Panam Qualifiers in Washington D.C. where we qualified for the 21
Games in Turkey the following year.
It was here I got my first taste, and exposure to the Deaf culture by being immersed in it at Gallaudet for a
couple weeks. At the Deaflympics is where I got to experience the Deaf culture on a global scale and meet
athletes and individuals from around the world who also had hearing loss.
Making our way to Turkey
On the day of travels, we sent selfies of one another in our Team Canada jackets on the planes to our
It was a long flight overseas, and a long six hour layover in the Istanbul airport, and were absolutely
Olympic headquarters and saw the big banner and the hundreds of athletes among us I instantly felt
FNDC Spring • 2019
No hearing technology during the games
really know much sign, but the main challenge ended up being on the court. Volleyball is such a
Deaf volleyball,
however, is not played
like that. It really tests
our teammates, that
they will go for the ball
because there is no
auditory cue that will
reassure them that yes,
for the ball. Or that the
ball is going out. There
have been collisions,
bumps, and
Proud to be a part of the Deaflympics
FNDC Spring • 2019
Eight things siblings of children with special needs struggle with
Having a sibling with special needs is a reality
many children are born into, including my three
typically developing children. Of all the things my
children experience that I never did, their
experience of growing up with a sister with
significant disabilities is something I struggle to
understand, even as I watch it unfold daily.
The advantages to having a brother or sister with
special needs are numerous and include being
more empathetic, more responsible and more resilient. However, these typically
developing siblings also shoulder tremendous burdens that are not often or easily
Documentary filmmaker Rachel Feichter has a typically developing 11-year-old and a
7-year-old, Talia, who has special needs as a result of a neurological autoimmune
disease, Hashimoto’s encephalitis. Feichter discovered that there is a lack of
information regarding the full experience of having a sibling with special needs when
she searched for information to help her older daughter. She wanted to better
understand the needs of her typically developing daughter, as well as help her
daughter connect with other siblings with the same struggles, so Feichter began
interviewing siblings of individuals with special needs for her in-progress documentary,
which has the working title “Not Typical.”
While every sibling and every family is different, Feichter found some common
experiences, many of which my children are having.
Feeling like they need to be perfect. Siblings of individuals with special needs know
how hard their parents work to ensure all of their sibling’s needs are met, and often see
their parents struggle to meet these needs. Many feel like they can’t make mistakes
because that would add to their parents’ burden, so they believe they must be perfect
at all times. This is an impossible standard to meet, and can lead to stress and feelings
of inadequacy. One girl said she felt like she “had to be Ms. Perfect and not have any
problems for [her] parents to deal with.” Another said that she felt as though she could
never be “enough.”
Feeling like they can’t express their feelings. Most typically developing children love
their sibling with special needs. Yet they may also resent how much of their parents’
FNDC Spring • 2019
time is taken up by caring for their sibling or feel embarrassed about their sibling’s
behavior. One girl said she “was never allowed to mourn openly or to be mad or sad
about [her] brother” and another said her friends thought she was being mean if she
said anything bad about her sister, even though friends with typically developing
siblings often complain.
Having a different idea of family and home. For most children the concept of family
is based in togetherness. But when a sibling has special needs, family quality time may
look different. One girl recalled that her mother was “assigned” to her sister with
special needs and her father was “assigned” to her. The family often spent time apart,
especially when it involved leaving the house. In many families, the sibling with special
needs may not be able to attend certain events or go certain places for a variety of
reasons, including therapy and medical appointments, physical barriers to access, or
sensory issues. In some cases, the presence of caregivers and therapists may
redefine what a family home is for children. In my home, for example, our child with
special needs is normally fed by a personal care attendant. A therapist is often present
at our family meals as well. Nonfamily members are typically also present even during
lazy weekends at home. Some siblings said that places outside the home, such as
school or a relative’s house, are more of a refuge for them than their home.
Feeling as though their problems are minimized. Sometimes a sibling with special
needs has complex and even life-threatening problems. An issue faced by a typically
developing sibling, whether it is a problem with a friend or an academic struggle, may
seem small compared to having limited mobility, learning difficulties or sensory issues
that require intensive care or prevent a child from attending the neighborhood school.
One girl said her parents rarely dealt with her problems, instead telling her to be
“strong.” Another felt her parents never took her problems seriously because they
considered her the “lucky one” for not having a disability.
Feeling isolated. Typically developing siblings may be lonely because they don’t have
peers who have siblings with special needs. So they feel different when their friends
ask “what’s wrong with your sister?” Some children also feel self-conscious about their
sibling with special needs, and aren’t sure when or how to tell their friends about him.
Others feel uncomfortable inviting friends over because they are unsure of how their
friend or sibling will react.
Dealing with intolerance early and often. Children learn early that there is not
universal acceptance for individuals with special needs, and that their sibling is not
welcome everywhere that typically developing children are. This can be deeply
disappointing to typically developing children who want to have shared experiences
with their sibling. They regularly encounter individuals who refuse to move from seats
designated for individuals with disabilities, and those who make unkind comments
about other accommodations their sister needs. These early lessons in intolerance,
and even hate, can affect their world view and make them cynical or resentful of the
limitations placed on their sibling and themselves as a result.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Feeling like they are asked to help too much. Some typically developing
children are expected to help care for their sibling with special needs from a young
age, even if that sibling is older. One girl said that she felt like the “attention police” at
home since her mother was constantly telling her that she had to pay attention to her
sibling with special needs. Others are expected to push wheelchairs, participate in
therapy sessions, or attend to their sibling’s personal care needs by feeding them or
helping to get them dressed. Many are told early on that they will be expected to care
for their sibling when their parents are no longer able to do so. This puts enormous
pressure on them.
Feeling like they must grow up quickly. Because of the sum of their experiences,
from feeling as though they are on their own to handle their problems to feeling
pressure to be perfect to being given responsibility for their brother or sister, some
siblings of children with special needs feel as though they are forced to grow up too
Most typically developing children love their siblings with special needs beyond
measure and are close to them. But to better understand and support them, it’s
important to acknowledge their struggles. There is a need for more information about
the experience of growing up with a sibling with special needs. While there are a few
places the stories of these siblings are told, such as the fictional book “Wonder” by R.J.
Palacio, hearing from the siblings themselves in “Not Typical” will help many feel less
alone and better understood.
FNDC Spring • 2019
FROM: https://bu.ly/2GBqAMy
TRANSCRIPT: Hello! Welcome to the TELUS Accessibility website where you
can nd the latest information on oered Accessible products and services.
TELUS is committed to continuous improvement, so come back and check
again and again. Find information about the TELUS Accessible Rate Plan,
or Text with 9-1-1, and other Accessibility Services here. Let me show you
how to easily search and nd TELUS information on accessibility. Either type in the address bar or URL bar on your web browser,
or on the website, scroll down to the bottom of the page where
you will see the word Accessibility, click on this to view the updated Acces-
sibility site. The TELUS Accessibility website has grouped information into 4
1. Accessibility at TELUS: Information in this section includes TELUS’
Commitment to Accessibility including information from the CRTC Wireless
Code of Conduct in ASL, LSQ, English and French about extended trial
periods. ASL and LSQ videos are also available for common wireless contract
terminology under “Review the CRTC Wireless Code of Conduct. TELUS also
has information on Text with 911 requirements and how to register.
2. Accessible devices: Many mobile phones come with built-in features that
can make them easier to use for people with varying abilities. For example,
click on “Explore hearing/speech features” to learn more about these features.
TELUS is also adding a web page to individual mobile phone pages to show
which Accessibility features that specic phone supports. To nd this:
1. Type in,
2. Go to the mobile phone section,
3. Select the wireless phone you are interested in and,
4. Open the Accessibility tab for more information on the accessibility features that
phone supports.
3. Accessible services: This section provides information on the dierent
plans and services TELUS oers to improve the customer experience. Here
you will nd information on our Accessible mobile phone rate plan which
is available to TELUS Mobility customers who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard of
hearing or blind, and how to apply. Customers can also learn about what
Relay Services TELUS oers, how to request documents, in alternate formats
such as Braille or large print. For example: your bill or customer service
agreement is available in braille or large print.
4. Help us improve: TELUS wants to give everyone equal access to the
devices and services we all need to work, play and stay connected. Feedback
is important for continuous improvements. That’s why we want to hear from
you. Please use the options below to share your suggestions, feedback,
compliments or complaints about accessibility at TELUS: For feedback on
the Accessibility website, click on the site “Feedback” form.
For feedback on Accessibility services or experience, you can submit feedback
to any of the areas of TELUS on this page or use our “Contact Us” options.
Chat live with an agent, Email, Twitter, TELUS Forums, Phone, TELUS hopes
you nd the information on the TELUS Accessibility site benecial.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Sign language interpreter becomes symbol of New
Zealand's inclusive response to attack
Just before New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
began to speak from behind a podium in the capital of
Wellington on Thursday, a young man dressed in a
collared shirt positioned himself beside her.
Ardern was there to announce that New Zealand would
ban semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and high-
capacity magazines - a decision that came less than a
week after a gunman stormed two mosques in
Christchurch and fatally shot 50 people.
"On 15 March, our history changed forever. Now, our laws will, too," Ardern said. "We are announcing action
today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place."
And Alan Wendt, the man standing beside her, was there to express the same message - but in sign language.
New Zealand Sign Language is one of New Zealand's three official languages, which also include English and
Māori, the language spoken by New Zealand's indigenous population. According to New Zealand's human
rights commission, individuals in New Zealand have the right to use either New Zealand Sign Language or
Māori in official court proceedings with interpreters, and Māori is taught in most schools. Māori was made an
official language in 1987 and sign language was designated an official language in 2006.
Ardern recognised New Zealand's Sign Language Week in May when she released a video of herself signing,
and she also uses an interpreter for her weekly news conference.
Ardern has been praised for her response to the violent attacks last week that left 50 Muslims dead. She didn't
hesitate to call the attack terrorism, wore a headscarf when meeting with the Muslim community, and
promised that the Government would cover funeral costs for the victims. Then she announced plans to ban
the sales of certain weapons.
But observers also noticed that Wendt appeared by her side, seen as a way of including the deaf and hard of
hearing community in her response that New Zealand was truly "united in grief".
One Twitter user wrote that while watching a sign language interpreter during New Zealand's response to the
Christchurch attack, "one has to acknowledge this deep sensitivity of the NZ society".
"So impressed by NZ's inclusivity of having a sign language interpreter at news conferences," one user wrote.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Lost years: Mother of deaf girl urges parents to learn
sign language as soon as possible
Heather Chandler of Rothesay regrets not being able to communicate with her daughter
Allison, 6, sooner
Heather Chandler, right, with her deaf daughter Allison,
6, husband Andrew and son Leland, 8, says she'd like to
see more intervention when it comes to providing
instruction in American Sign Language. (Submitted)
Allison Chandler may be deaf, but the six-year-old
Rothesay child has no problem letting her mother
know she'd like some soda pop and she'd like it right
When the answer is no, Allison argues the injustice with her eyes and her posture and an urgent
pleading message that flows through her arms and her hands.
Heather Chandler says it's a joy and relief to see her daughter communicating so assertively in
American Sign Language and only regrets she left it so late.
For way too long, Chandler says, she and her husband, Andrew, and their son, Leland, didn't know
the little girl who was living among them.
"Essentially, she was language-deprived for three years," Chandler said.
Focused on the fix
Allison's hearing deficiency was flagged early, first by the universal newborn screening test and later
while Allison was being prepped for heart surgery at five months old.
With the heart crisis behind them, Chandler said she then felt pushed by doctors and society to
pursue any medical fix that might make Allison "more normal."
"Everyone seemed to be steering us to cochlear implants," she said, referring to the medical devices
that bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve.
Allison Chandler is deaf and spent years unable to communicate with her
parents. Now, her mom is an advocate of early access to American Sign
Language education.
The surgery is not performed in New Brunswick, which meant the
family first had to travel to Halifax and later to Toronto.
In both cities, specialists decided Allison was not a candidate because of existing nerve damage.
FNDC Spring • 2019
It took months to get those answers and even longer, Chandler said, to come to terms with the
Meanwhile, nobody was guiding the family to learn ASL.
'Most parents don't learn sign language'
Agencies for the deaf in Canada often cite the statistic that 95 per cent of deaf children are born to
hearing parents. The figures trace back to U.S. studies done in the 1970s.
There's also a wide perception that most of those hearing parents never learn American Sign
Language, mainly because it's difficult to master.
When Allison was two, Chandler tried to find ASL tutorials on the internet to teach herself at home but
she felt she was "doing it wrong," and it was hard to stay motivated all by herself.
The more communication she got, the happier she became and the happier our family
became.- Heather Chandler, mother
In late 2014, she contacted the non-profit Saint John Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, which has
since become a provincial agency, New Brunswick Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.
Chandler said the agency started sending a deaf interpreter to her home to teach the family ASL,
starting with the parents, so they could model the language for Allison.
"That's when our family started to take a different turn," Chandler said.
"The more communication she got, the happier she became and the happier our family became."
In 2018, Chandler went to work for the agency, where she advocates earlier access to sign language
Deaf schooling then
The residential school model that existed for most of the last century has long been abandoned in the
Maritimes — its legacy still unresolved.
Two months ago, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia certified a class action lawsuit in which it's
alleged that children from Atlantic Canada who were sent to the schools for the deaf in Halifax and
Amherst, N.S., were subjected to emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
But one of Allison's deaf interpreters, Joann Bourque, said the Amherst school lifted her out of
ignorance and darkness.
FNDC Spring • 2019
Joann Bourque, pictured here at age 12, says learning sign language
changed her life forever. (Submitted by Joann Bourque)
Growing up one of five deaf siblings in a family of 12 children
in Charlo, Bourque didn't learn a thing in regular school until
Grade 4.
Nothing on the board made sense, she said. Written words
had no meaning. "I was in school for three years without an
interpreter," Bourque said in ASL, which was then conveyed
into spoken English through an interpreter. "I had no idea
what was being said."
When her mother finally learned about Amherst and sent Bourque there, sign language changed her
life forever. "Once I got that language, I fell in love," she said. "I could communicate with people and I
just totally felt myself."
Deaf schooling now
Deaf and hard of hearing children in New Brunswick now attend regular schools and receive
education support services through the Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority.
Only about 300 children in New Brunswick receive services for hearing impairment, according to the
Chandler said the Atlantic agency is now supporting a pilot project for Allison that provides her with
two interpreters at Rothesay Elementary.
The first interpreter can hear what the teacher says and convert it into ASL.
This deaf woman couldn’t communicate with her hearing parents or her four deaf siblings for years, until she was
finally taught sign language at a residential school.
The second interpreter is deaf and Chandler said she
takes the time to make sure Allison understands what is
happening in the fast-paced classroom and fills in the
blanks that exist for deaf children who are growing up in a
hearing world.
"For example," Chandler said. "One day Allison asked me
about the thermostat on the wall."
"She had never heard anyone in the family say, 'Oh, it's cold, turn the thermostat up.' She never
heard us talking about it. She had no idea."
Chandler said the deaf interpreter is helping Allison catch up on much of what she missed in those
critical early years, when no one in the family could communicate with her.
She said she hopes her daughter will reach her full potential and recover from all that lost time.
FNDC Spring • 2019
If Shakespeare knew sign-language: In this take on Hamlet,
the story is literally in Horatio's hands
Web source from CBC Radio:
Prince Hamletis a new adaptation of Shakespeare's famous play that puts
sign language at the centre of the story. Actor Dawn Jani Birleyplays Horatio,
who narrates the entire talein American Sign Language. While someactors
have speaking roles,no one interpretsthe sign language for the audience.
As an actor who is deaf,Birleyis used to playing characters who are specif-
ically written as deaf, but her character in this production is one whose
hearing loss is not a dening characteristic.
She joins Tom Power in theqstudio to tell us more about what it's like to
perform in American Sign Language and why so many artists who are deaf
decide to move to Finland.
Prince Hamletopens tonight at theBerkeley Street Theatrein Toronto and will
tour to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa at theendof the month.
TOM POWER: Hamlet is one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. How
familiar with were you withHamletbefore you began this project?
DAWN JANIBIRLEY:I was familiar. I was rst exposed to Shakespeare in high
school in English class. My teacher was a fanatic for Shakespeare, and I was
stuck with her for the full duration of my high school career. That was my
introduction toHamletand other Shakespeare plays as well. So I was familiar
with the play before going into this.
TP:Were you a fan (of Shakespeare)?
DJB:Yes and no. I was young... so at the age of 14, 15, or 16 ... Shakespeare
wasn't really my thing. But as I got into acting as a profession, well, now I have
to say I am very grateful to my high school English teacher.
TP:Yeah! High school English teachers are like piano lessons. You don't wish
you had them until WAY too late in life.
DJB:Exactly for sure.
TP: How common are plays likePrince Hamlet, with an actor signing to a
hearing audience with no interpreter?
DJB:I can't say this with any certainty, but I am fairly sure that this has never
existed before in Canada. What we are oered as deaf audience members
and deaf patrons is not this kind of theatrical experience. There aren't a lot
of deaf performers in Canada, and the idea of representation in Canada is
very, very weak relative to other areas. So I'm really delighted to see that this
show has really taken o here in Canada. It's a radical idea what we're doing
inPrince Hamlet. It's what we call intersectional theatre and I'm really proud
of what we've put together.
TP:You have a very important role in this play. You're Horatio... the narrator.
What does it mean to you personally to take on such a crucial role?
DJB:At rst, I didn't really know what I was getting into. I had to say "Sure! Cast
me as Horatio. I'm in!" First day of production came. ... Ravi Jain our director
and I were working together to try and imagine what this story might be like.
How was I going to perform as Horatio, the storyteller of this production? I
realized as we were going through, the enormity of that responsibility. As a
deaf person, I feel that we don't have a lot of voice and many people aren't
interested in our stories. Now I have the opportunity that, Hamlet, in the play
has asked me, Horatio, to tell the world this story. At the end of the whole
play, Hamlet reaches out to Horatio and says, "Tell the world my story." To me,
that's a gift of empowerment that I am entrusted. Horatio was entrusted by
Hamlet to tell this story. As a deaf character and as a deaf performer, it gives
a new perspective on storytelling. I think many people have heard [these
stories], and now we're challenging them to see these stories. There are so
many ways to communicate. So many ways to tell a story. This is ours.
TP:As you mentioned, we don't see many plays like this in Canada. InPrince
Hamlet, you are doing scenes with actors who are just speaking their lines.
Dawn Jani Birley plays Horatio in Prince Hamlet, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that uses both
English and American Sign Language to tell the story. Dawn Jani Birley plays Horatio in Prince Hamlet, an
adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet that uses both English and American Sign Language to tell the story.
Host Tom Power with Dawn Jani Birley in the q studio in Toronto, Ont.
FNDC Spring • 2019
How do you keep track of where you are in the script when the actors in the
scene aren't necessarily signing back at you?
DJB:It's been a real challenge. That's the game we've been playing all along,
for sure. When we began to create the show, honestly we had no idea what
we were doing. It emerged out of the process and we had to trust each
other and we had to have enormous trust in the process. As a deaf actor, I've
worked with many hearing actors so I know that my team needs to under-
stand what it's like to share a stage with a deaf actor and a deaf colleague.
I have a lot of skill in reading body language ... but it wasn't until the fourth
week of rehearsal in our rst run ofPrince Hamletthat [director] Ravi Jain and
I came to the realization that we needed to build this production in a special
way. Sometimes I read the lips of performers to know where they are in the
script. Sometimes we build in physical cues so that I can follow. But I have to
memorize the whole show! I did the translation of the Shakespearean text
into ASL, and I taught some of the hearing actors some signs. So we were
trying to stumble on ways that we could tell the same story to two audiences
(deaf and hearing).
TP:That must be a challenge. Shakespeare Is so well known for his metaphors
and wordplay.Was it tough translating into sign language?
DJB:Yes. Excuse my language. I'm not sure if I can say this, but no s**t, it's
challenging! Absolutely it is. Shakespearean English is extraordinarily dicult
and dense. It's rich with playfulness and metaphor. As I read the text, it's
an exciting challenge for me to gure out what it essentially means, and
how I can provide a translation that is equally rich and enjoyable to a deaf
audience. It's not an exact representation in conversational ASL (American
Sign Language), it's artistic. Many deaf people don't have a lot of experiences
with Shakespeare. English is often a second language for deaf people, and so
I want to ensure that they have access to the beauty and poetry of the text.
TP: You grew up in Regina in Saskatchewan, doing taekwondo at a very
professional level. When did you know you wanted to be an actor? It's not
every day I see that jump from taekwondo to acting.
DJB:That's a long story.I don't know how much time you've got but I will try
and make it brief. I was born deaf. I come from a third-generation deaf family.
My grandparents are deaf. They were farmers in Saskatchewan. When I was
seven years old, I saw a Bruce Lee movie and I thought this is it. I want to be
Bruce Lee. When I told my parents that I wanted to get into taekwondo they
were a little concerned. They didn't see me in that world. I went to my uncle
who assisted me in signing up for a class, and I felt that once I started, it was
a talent that I seemed to have been born with. I took to it like a sh to water.
At the same time, I was always interested in the theatre and in arts. I liked to
go into my grandmother's closet and play dress up, and I would convince
my baby sister, who is also deaf, to come and play with me. We would do full
makeup and create these little skits and stories, which we would perform for
my family. As time went on, I was attending a mainstream school with hearing
students and they did have a theatreprogram. But when I approached the
program and asked to be part of it, I was told that they didn't have adequate
resources to involve me as a deaf person in their theatreprogram. I wasn't
permitted to participate.
It was when I moved to Europe that I was rst exposed to professional sign-
language theatre. They have them in Sweden, Finland, and Norway —and it
was a really natural t for me. I began to work with some of those companies.
At rst I was behind the scenes. I kept looking at the actors on the stage and I
thought, "You know what? I am in the wrong place. I need to be on the stage."
Once I tried it, that was it. I was hooked. The rest is history.
TP:You mentioned earlier, about having more opportunities now that you
live in Finland. What has your experience been in Finland as an artist with a
DJB:First of all, it's interesting that you chose the word disability for a deaf
person. I don't view myself as somebody with a disability. We are a linguistic
minority, and that's how many of us identify. Our language is what keeps
us apart. But to answer your question, here in Canada, the government
support provided to deaf people is really quite weak, and continuing to
fall behind other countries. In Finland, I have the right to access inter-
preters for any reason. For instance, I can attend an actor's night-out social
with an interpreter, which allows me to network. Right now, the interpreter
who's currently with us — Kate Lewis — is being paid for by the Finnish
government. So these opportunities would never happen for me if I had to
rely on the resources that were here in Canada.
TP:First o, I appreciate your clarication there and I feel like I'm learning
so much throughout this conversation. One last question about Prince
Hamlet.When people see this show, when they get in their cars or on the
bus, what kind of conversations would you like them to be having with one
DJB:It's a good question. I've wondered this myself. Yes, we're telling the
story of Hamlet, but I believe that we have other purposes and other intents
behind our production.Prince Hamletis an extraordinary example of inter-
sectional theatre. Our cast is very diverse. We have people of colour. We have
hearing actors. We have myself as a deaf actor. We are not doing traditional
gender casting. So we have an enormous amount of diversity that we're
using to tell this story. And I think that we're looking at how a number of
minority communities would be able to benet from theatre through this
process. It allows for dierent kinds of stories to be told by dierent kinds of
FNDC Spring • 2019
"I feel so left out sometimes even though I know they don't mean it:"
Diary of deaf girl, 11, gives heartbreaking insight into her world
EXCLUSIVE: Lily Murray, 11, and her sister Fearne, two, from Cumbria, are deaf but her
heartbreaking diary entries helped to raise £23,600 for the National Deaf Children's Society
Lily Murray, 11, bravely shard her diary entries about being bullied for being deaf and raised £24k for charity
An 11-year-old girl who is profoundly deaf has shared her diary,
giving a moving insight into her world and the difficulties she faces
every day.
Lily Murray, 11, from Workington, Cumbria, wears bright pink
hearing aids but has been picked on by both classmates and adults
as a result of her condition.
She was approached by the Deaf Children's Society to front a campaign about her experiences and
has so far raised almost £24,000 for the charity.
Some of the diary entries reveal how she feels left out in school or embarrassed when she doesn't
hear what someone has said.
Her mum Nicki told Mirror Online: "Lily was bullied a bit last year over being deaf and missing out on
things really.
Lily's diary entries have
raised awareness about
being deaf aware
Her entries tell of how she can
be left feeling isolated in
school sometimes
FNDC Spring • 2019
"It's difficult for anyone going to secondary school but she says in her diaries about how if she doesn't
hear something she's the butt of a joke. "Her school have been doing deaf awareness workshops
and we're hoping to get in a few sign language classes as well for the children who want them.
"She's just so proud to have raised so much money to help other people."
Lily wrote in her diary about how her hearing disability
leaves her feeling left out at school. She wrote: "Dear
Diary, really fed up today. Everyone was laughing and
joking at lunchtime, but I missed out on lots of what
they were saying. "By the time anyone filled me in, it
was too late. The joke was over. "In the end, I went to
sit on my own and look through my homework book. "I
feel so left out sometimes even though I know they
don't mean it."
Another time she penned an entry about how she was
worried people were laughing at her.
“Dear Diary, at the chip shop I didn't hear properly what
the woman said, I gave them my money, and then they were all laughing.. "I felt so embarrassed,
thought they were laughing at me. "Luckily Elliot was there and told them it was just because I'd
given them so much money and they were making a joke of it. They weren't being mean."
A third entry reads: "Dear Diary, doing the Park Run today, a runner following me nipped my arm to
get past, annoyed because I hadn't moved out of her way on the path - I hadn't heard her coming
behind me and calling 'excuse me'. "I wish people would realise I can't hear. I was wearing my
#DeafKidsRock t-shirt."
Lily also said school is so much more enjoyable when her classmates are considerate about her
hearing loss. She wrote: "Dear Diary, had a great
day today! It was wet break, so I was inside with a
few friends. They know to take turns talking to me,
and to let me see their faces too.
"This mean I can follow their lips and facial
expressions. I didn't have to say 'pardon' at all, and
didn't get frustrated once!"
Lily's sister Fearne, two, was born deaf and
received cochlear implants last April.
Nicki said: “The operation gave her so much
confidence, she can now say ‘Mam’, ‘Dad’ and ‘hi’,
which is absolutely amazing. Their brother Elliot,
ten, can hear and Nicki says he's "the best big
brother the girls could ask for". "He's kind and caring and just so understanding even if it means
repeating himself constantly."
Nicki, her husband Alan and some of their family members ran the Great North Run last year raising
even more money for the National Deaf Children's Society.
FNDC Spring • 2019
I am Deaf. I have diculty speaking and using sign language coherently
because of a brain injury at birth. I use a portable device which speaks when
I type out written English. I also utilize email and sign language interpreters
to communicate,
Creating is my way to express my soul-voice in a way to which others can
hear and respond. When I creates, it feels like something spiritual guides me. I
need to continue on my spiritual path, and that is through expressing myself.
Art connects me to my Spiritual Self. My art ows from my Spiritual Self.
I am self taught. I work mostly with watercolour, ink, and use other media.
I am formerly a potter, writer, poet, actress, dancer, music composer, and
musician. I created, wrote, produced, and directed a video. I sometimes mix
these media to create something. Each piece of my art is unique; I paint
slowly and meticulously for one, and fast and impatient for another. Each has
its own personality: One will have vibrant, wild, lush colours, and another will
have shy, withdrawn, tame, muted colours. Some are whimsical, and others
are serious. My work shows how I feel right at the moment of creation.
I have dierent inspirations: a memory, a movie, an image, another piece of
art, visions, words, myself, an event, and my cat! What will come out, I never
knows. My preferred subjects include, but not limited to: nature, magic, and
my cat.
I was involved with an art experience group from 2002 until 2004. This
enabled me to explore my creativity in a supportive environment with other
Deaf women artists. This weekly group acted as a springboard to encourage
me to take professional classes and to show my art publicly.
Since 2002, my work has been exhibited in several galleries, including: the
CityScape Art Space, the Artists Helping Artists in Burnaby, a Deaf art show
at the Vancouver Community College, the Harmony Arts Festival, the Round-
House Community Centre and a gallery in Quebec City! I
am excited with the growing interest in my work and my evolution as an
artist. I contributed a chapter to a book about alternative and augmented
ways of communicating. I won awards for academic study and for compo-
sition in music. In 2004, I published a book that I wrote AND illustrated.
I am self-taught, but I take courses to improve my skill. I took classes from
Vancouver School Board, Kwantlen College, North Vancouver Continuing
Education, and Video In Studios. I studied painting at the Bad Dog Arts Studio
in North Vancouver, under Elizabeth Harris - Nichols. Last fall, I earned my
second certicate from Emily Carr University's Continuing Education. The
rst certicate is in Fine Arts Techniques, the second is in Drawing. I hold
a Bachelor`s degree from Gallaudet University, the world`s only liberal arts
university for the Deaf.
Through my images, I can be heard. I believe this is my way to freedom, and
spirituality. Most importantly, art is my way out of that well. I reside in West
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
I started to explore various arts in 1999, as a way to overcome personal fears. One
of these was a nightmare I had as a child. This dream is a parable of my life: ``I`m
at the bottom of a well, looking up. I see the Sesame Street puppets with their
mouths opening and closing. I have a feeling of no way out. I can`t yell for help,
because no one understands my speech. This is such a feeling of helplessness!``
AJ Brown - Deaf Artist
FNDC Spring • 2019
FNDC Spring • 2019
FNDC Spring • 2019
LIBRARY ASL/English Storytime
-English Storytime
Surrey Libraries
Guildford Branch
Join a Deaf storyteller and children’s librarian for stories, songs, rhym
es and crafts presented in both American Sign
Language and English. ASL interpreters
will be present. All ages.
Sundays, May 5, 2:00-3:00pm
Guildford Library, 15105 105 Avenue, Surrey BC
Registration is recommended at 604-598-7369 or
Family Story Time in Sign Language and English
Burnaby Public Library
Join a deaf storyteller and a
Children's Librarian for stories, songs, rhymes and crafts presented in both American
Sign Langage and English. Interpreters will be present.
Saturdays, May 11, 2:00- 3:00pm
Tommy Douglas Library, Burnaby
Sign with Me Story Time
Rutland Branch, Okanagan Regional Library
Join a deaf storyteller and a children's
librarian for stories, songs, rhymes, and crafts presented in both American
Sign Language and English. Financial
assistance provided by the Central Okanagan Foundation.
Saturdays, April 20, May 18, June 15, 10:30am-12:00pm
Plaza 33 Mall; #20 - 301 Hwy. 33 West; Kelowna, BC.
CONTACT: (250) 765-8165
Sign with Me
- An ASL Story Time
Okanagan Regional Library Westbank Bra
Join a deaf storyteller and a Children's Librarian for stories, songs, rhymes and
crafts presented in both American
Sign Language and English. Interpreters will be present.
Saturday April 27 10:30am- 12:00pm
Westbank Library, West Kelowna
(250) 768-4369
Bilingual ASL
- English Family Storytime
Vancouver Public Library
Conducted in
American Sign Language and English. Enjoy stories, songs,
rhymes, felt stories and crafts at the library. This event is suitable for children of all ages
and abilities along with their
parents and caregivers. ASL interpreters will be present during
the program.
Saturdays April 27, May 25 10:30am11:30am
Oakridge Public Library, Vancouver
CONTACT/ INFO: Please call 604.665.3980 or go to
FNDC Spring • 2019
School Transition Information Night (Aged 4
- Family & Community Services
Is your deaf or hard of hearing or deafblind child graduating from Early
Intervention Services? If so, please come
and join Family and Community Service
(FCS) to learn about services and resources that are available for your
(ASL interpreters will be provided. Please let us know if you require any
additional language interpreters.)
Register by Wednesday May 22, 2019
Wednesday May 29th 6:00pm 7:00 pm
Provincial Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services, 4334 Victory Street, Burnaby
If you would like further information or would like to register, please
Mother Goose Parent and Child Group Sessions
Children’s Hearing and Speech Centre
For parents with deaf and hard of hearing children newborn to age 3. This weekly
year-round program is led by a
-Child Mother Goose Program trained facilitator who is a listening and spoken language specialist and
accredited teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. Music is the magic that helps a child remember
develop natural and steady breath control for speech, and practice
intonation patterns and the prosody of speech
that carries information (pitch,
duration and volume) for intelligibility. Mother Goose provides a very specialized time
to use songs, rhymes and stories to teach parents engaging ways to help their
child learn. Mother Goose is a drop
in activ
Thursday mornings, 10:00am-11:00am weekly drop in (families from all agencies welcome)
Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre, 3575 Kaslo Street, Vancouver
Please call the office and let them know you're coming 604 437-0255 or email
Communicate & Connect Group
BC Family Hearing Resource Centre - Vancouver Satellite Office
Parents and their deaf/hard-of-hearing children can join us for playtime, stories and songs while engaging with other
families and staff. Communication strategies will be learned and practiced during this group. This group is open
to all families receiving services from any of the three early intervention agencies.
WHEN: Second Friday of each month, 10:00am 12:00pm.
WHERE: BCFHRS, #262 3665 Kingsway, Vancouver
groups/ email: or 604-428-7949
FNDC Spring • 2019
ELF: Early Literacy Foundations
Deaf Children’s Society of B.C.
Building strong foundations for language and literacy and developing a love of learning begins early. Exposure to
books and print can begin at birth, and parents' enthusiasm for reading is something children pick up at an early
age. ELF is led by a speech-language therapist and a sign language instructor who introduce parents and children
to various books, songs and signs in a relaxed, accepting, and supportive atmosphere, with the intention of building
the confidence and comfort level of all participants and creating a feeling of community and mutual support within
the group. Weekly ELF sessions will focus on a different theme and book each month. Participants will receive a
book during each theme unit and will learn vocabulary, songs and activities related to the theme so they can read at
home with their child encouraging speech and language development.
WHEN: Wednesdays from 10:00am-11:30am
WHERE: Room 208, 7355 Canada Way, Burnaby (in the Edmonds Community Resource Centre Building enter off
18th Street)
CONTACT/ INFO: 604-525-6056 for registration form
Save the Date for Mingle & Play!
BC Family Hearing Resource Centre SURREY Centre
Save the date for our annual summer event Mingle & Play! Three days of fun for children who are deaf and hard-of-
hearing (0-5 years) and their families. You are welcome to join us for one, two or all three days. Limited
accommodation is available for families travelling to the Lower Mainland. Registration info is coming in spring.
WHEN: August 8, 9 & 10, 2019, 9:30am 1:00pm each day.
WHERE: BCFHRC, 15220 92nd Avenue, Surrey
CONTACT/ INFO: or 604-584-2827
Victoria Area
BC Family Hearing Resource Centre (VICTORIA)
Join other families and their deaf/hard-of-hearing children on outings and activities in the Victoria area. Guided
learning and communication strategies will be shared and practiced during the outings. These events are open to all
families receiving services from any of the three early intervention agencies (BCFHRC, CHSC, DCS). Interpreters
will be provided upon request.
WHEN: Two Fridays each month, 1:00pm start time.
WHERE: Various locations
FNDC Spring • 2019
Early Childhood Educator (ECE) and American Sign Language (ASL) Instructor
Permanent: 1.0 FTE position; required as soon as possible
Location: Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Work Site: BC Family Hearing Resource Society
Join a dynamic, dedicated, and supportive team of professionals.
A recent accreditation survey noted the following strengths about our organization: “Teamwork and dedication to service
delivery, to meeting the needs of persons served, and to the organization are evident. There appears to be a strong rapport
among management personnel, staff members, and families, with mutual respect being the focus of the relationships. Family
members and other stakeholders who were interviewed were extremely satisfied and complimentary of staff performance, staff
dedication, and the program’s professionalism.”
Job Summary:
ECE: Primary responsibilities will include: assisting group facilitators in the planning and development of appropriate
resource materials (including culturally appropriate activities) for children who are deaf and/or hard-of-hearing; supervising
children in the classroom/day trips; ensuring facility is a clean, safe and healthy environment, administering first aid as
required, and supervising ECE students during externship placements as requested.
American Sign Language Instructor: Communicates effectively and clearly with staff and families when in an individual or
group sign language/ASL setting, provides sign language/ASL instruction to families and professionals with varying degrees
of skills and expertise in using signs, sign supported speech, ASL, whenever requested, works cooperatively with other staff to
set sign language/ASL goals for families to encourage communication with their children, and on a regular basis evaluates
progress of sign language skills in families.
Successful candidate will work with a team of speech and language pathologists, teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing, a
listening and spoken language specialist and many support staff. Candidates should have a strong interest in working in close
partnership with parents of young children and with community professionals. Preference will be given to applicants with
ASL fluency and experience working with young children who are deaf and/or hard-of-hearing.
You must have: An ECE Certificate, a valid BC driver’s license and First Aid certificate
Salary: $48,029.80; plus a benefit package
Please forward resumes to:
Dr. Noreen R. Simmons, Executive Director
BC Family Hearing Resource Society
15220-92 Avenue
Surrey, BC V3R 2T8
Fax: (604) 584-2800
Vancouver Satellite Centre
#262- 3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, V5R 5W2
PH: 604-428-7949 FAX: 604-428-7950
Main Surrey Centre
15220 - 92nd Ave., Surrey, BC, V3R 2T8
PH: 604-584-2827 FAX: 604-584-2800
Toll Free: 1-877-584-2827
Victoria Satellite Centre
#320-702 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, V8W 1H2
PH: 778-265-8909 FAX: 778-265-8908
FNDC Spring • 2019
Join us for 3 days of fun at
BC Family Hearing Resource Society's
August 8th - 10th, 2019
We are looking for volunteers for Mingle & Play, our
annual summer event.
WHAT WE REQUIRE: someone who loves working with
children, who can get down to their level and play with
them, someone who is flexible and willing to learn.
Knowledge of American Sign Language is an asset, but is
not re
To Sign Up: contact Carolyn Hawrish,
Volunteer Coordinator
or 604-584-2827
FNDC is a non-prot society (S-33351) that was founded in March, 1995 to bring together families of deaf children in British Columbia who share
common concerns. Federal Registered Charity Number: 88622 5655 RR0001. Deaf Youth Today (DYT) is a program administered by FNDC.
What is FNDC all about?
Deaf Youth Today (DYT), is FNDC’s summer social/recreational program and is committed to providing
recreational experience and leadership opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing youth in British Columbia that use
sign language for all or part of their communication or who are interested in learning sign language.
FNDC Board of Directors
Hester Hussey ...................................................Mentor, Advisor
Colleen Peterson ..................Board President |
Nicki Horton ..................................................................Director
Karen Jackson ................................................................Director
Charlie Coyle .................................................................Director
Joy Santos ......................................................................Director
Gwen Wong ....................................................................Director
Laura Batista ..................................................................Director
Leigh Chan ..................................................................... Director
Dan Braun ......................................................................Director
Bobbi Taylor ..................................................................Director
Pauline Anderson ...........................................................Director
The Board of Directors are parents of deaf children.
FNDC Staff
DYT Staff
Cecelia Klassen .......................................... Executive Director |
Bella Poato ......................................... Executive Assistant |
Scott Jeffery ............................. Info Tech Manager FNDC/DYT |
Jason Berube ......................Newsletter Tech & IT Support |
FNDC .................................................................. General Inquiry |
DYT Hornby Island Coordinator (Terry Maloney)
DYT (General Inquiries) ...................................................................
Membership (Paid)
Join Our E-Mail List (for free)
Contact Us
Membership is open to those who support
the goals of our Organization.
* Our membership is open to individuals, schools, and
organizations. Parents/guardians of deaf and hard of
hearing children are eligible to vote.
Join our email list (for free) and receive:
* Our newsletter (which is published four times a year)
* Email Updates regarding upcoming workshops
and courses, children & youth programs as well as
community updates
Contact us below and be added to our email list
or to request a membership form:
Family Network for Deaf Children
P.O. Box 50075 South Slope RPO
Burnaby, BC V5J 5G3
604-684-1860 (voice/text message) (website) (e-mail)
Family Network for Deaf Children (FNDC) is a parent run, non-prot, charitable
organization supporting families with deaf and hard of hearing children that use sign
language or are interested in learning sign language.
Even though technology and methodology have changed over the years, we seek the wisdom
of parents, professionals and Deaf/HH adults so that common themes of “access, equity
and a sense of belonging” continue to be highlighted in areas such as: social/recreation,
leadership, education, employment, general services and community involvement.
What is Deaf Youth Today?