As we look back on 2020 at CEID (and throughout our world) we are certain to recall the tremendous disruptions and remarkable adaptations to what we had once believed to be our common way of life. At CEID we began the year with the excitement of celebrating 40 years of service to our community and a desire to reflect on where we have come and where will we go. Faced with an extraordinarily different kind of year, we have been reminded, as so many people and organizations have in 2020, of our roots and core values. Throughout shifts this year, we have relied on those hallmarks of CEID to guide us as we make decisions and determine actions. The strong commitment to meet individual needs, while using the strength of collaboration, and our firm belief in the value of connection for all people, grounded us, as it always has, to keep meeting needs as a team with our students, families and patients at the center of those determinations.
There is not just one hero at CEID, we are surrounded by them. Our students, patients and their families - these are the heroes at the heart of CEID. We are surrounded by an incredible caring community of professionals, friends, donors, sponsors and supporters who understand the value of a strong and early start. These groups have allowed CEID to build community and connection for 40 years. This caring community supports, advocates, adapts and meets varying needs every step of the way. With that bedrock to ground us, the future for CEID remains bright. We look toward a new era of service with increased collaboration and expanding access and impact.
Thank you for celebrating with us this year in honor of our 40th Anniversary. Your support, in all ways, sustains the continuation of our exemplary programs. Your investment in CEID ensures our future and the success for all of our students, patients and their families.
Just like every organization in California, in the country, and indeed in the world, CEID has never seen a year like 2020.
“I’ve been in the field for 39 years, without a doubt this has been the most unusual set of circumstances I’ve ever experienced in my lifetime,” said Speech and Language Therapist Carol Lettko.
But CEID has not let these difficult times hinder efforts to deliver life-altering care. With a focus on flexibility and teamwork, CEID started the 2020-2021 school year by welcoming students back for preschool, specialized therapies and childcare, with options for both in-person or distance learning.
Extensive new protocols are in place to minimize risk and promote staff and student safety. From temperature and symptom checks, to mask-wearing, to children each having their own personal art supplies, to seemingly endless handwashing & sanitizing, day-to-day life at CEID looks quite different these days.
One of the most difficult changes has been the need to keep students in separate pods with no cross interaction among the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Classrooms and Sunshine Classroom. CEID prides itself on inclusion with children in all classrooms interacting and learning together, and with parents and caregivers frequently visiting as active members of the community. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made this impossible. Classrooms remain separate and parents drop off their children without ever entering the Center.
“We had an open-door policy, so now literally closing the door has been really hard,” shares Sunshine Teacher Isabel Lee.
Despite these challenges, students, parents, and staff have stayed positive and open to changes. With every passing week, CEID is starting to feel familiar again. “I’ve been so impressed with the education team and how we’re supporting each other and supporting our families. Our staff has been super creative and really stepped up through problem solving,” said Program Director and Teacher Jessica Salaam.
In responding to differing needs of families and staff, CEID continues to provide distance learning and virtual services for families who prefer to stay home. Carol started conducting her speech and language therapy sessions entirely through tele-therapy in March and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
While working remotely has certainly presented challenges for therapists, it has not been without benefits. Because many families are at home together, Carol gets to work with entire families rather than just the individual students. CEID strives to help the “whole” child and the “whole” family so this has been a positive opportunity to adapt CEID’s mission even more fully.
“The opportunity to coach families on how to work on specific goals with their child and the
overall level of connection and collaboration with families has been amazing,” said Carol.
To make in-person programs possible, Isabel praises CEID’s steady leadership, specifically Executive Director Cindy Dickeson, in guiding the Center through its re-opening process. Isabel has been particularly impressed by Cindy and management’s ability to quickly become experts on a range of safety protocols from cleaning products, to public health orders, to air quality indexes.
“Cindy’s capacity to take these challenges and break them down and understand them from the inside out is truly commendable. I think an organization is only as strong as their leader and our leader is the strongest,” remarks Isabel.
Carol echoed the statement, expressing that watching CEID staff work in the face of adversity has been, “true teamwork at its best.”
As CEID entered the 2010s, our programs continued to flourish in our Berkeley Center and with the expansion of Audiology services in Oakland. After decades of visionary leadership, Co-Founder and Executive Director Jill Ellis retired in 2014, having skillfully guided the organization for 34 years. Thoughtful and thorough transition planning led by CEID’s Board of Directors included a search for new leadership. Director of Programs and Operations, Cindy Dickeson was selected to be the second Executive Director in CEID history, ushering in a new era for the Center marked by expansion of programs and increased community partnerships.
Within the culture at-large, the 2010s saw streaming giants Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO change how we consume television and movies by putting virtually all of their content directly online. Although it took litigation, people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing made sure they were considered in this change. In 2012, after a lawsuit by a Deaf customer, Netflix pledged to include closed captioning for all of its content. Today, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max include closed captioning in all of their content.
The decade brought faster mobile networks, as the release of the first iPad started tablet mania and the birth of new cultural icons-- “social media influencers.” The second half of the decade saw the rise of sociopolitical movements (the Women’s March, followed by the #MeToo movement) while longtime goals, like legalization of same sex marriage in the U.S., were met. Young and diverse leaders took center stage in new movements rounding out the decade.
In alignment with CEID’s decades of commitment to early identification of children who are D/HH and to strong early education services, CEID is proud to be a part of a new Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant awarded to NorCal Services for Deaf & Hard of Hearing. In partnership with agencies throughout the state, the grant provides increased access to services for young children who are D/HH and their families. Along with partner agencies, CEID will support families with resources and information as well as access to Deaf Coach (aka mentors who are D/HH) services. This work has received 4 years of funding because of aligned and determined efforts of regional agencies.
A primary goal of this project is to increase access to early intervention and support services for infants identified as D/HH to ensure age-appropriate language development. “By ensuring families are connected to early intervention and support services, this new statewide program is aligned with California’s law [SB210] that was passed in 2015 to address early language acquisition of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.” Said Sheri Farinha, CEO of NorCal and Principal Investigator of the HRSA grant. CEID is grateful to be collaborative partner to meet needs and ensure timely services for children and families.
After over two months of halting on-site services at CEID in response to Shelter In Place orders, we re-opened for in person audiology appointments in June. A limited summer child care program began a few weeks later and we are cautiously back on campus. Devising protocols, determining best practices and creating new ways to provide quality care in the midst of these uncertain times was and continues to be quite an undertaking. Staff, children and patients were happy to return to our special CEID home. Meanwhile, our distance learning programming and tele-intervention continue. The connections we have worked to maintain despite being physically apart from people we cherish reminds us that community exists through how we connect and support one another.
When our specialized CEID center was established in the 2000s, the decade we are celebrating with this newsletter, the newly built center provided staff and families a more secure setting, allowing CEID to grow and expand services responding to new needs within the community. Moving to our custom home on Grayson Street allowed the space to create an on-site child care program that has grown to become an inclusive preschool classroom providing profound benefits to children who are hearing and children who are deaf/hard of hearing. In response to unmet needs locally and in surrounding counties, we expanded our audiology clinic, complete with a sound booth for hearing testing, to provide comprehensive services not only to babies and children but also to adults. Meeting the individualized needs of patients of all ages and all income levels with high quality hearing health care services allows us to maximize communication and reduce social isolation.
Now, in the decade of the 2020’s, we are growing in new ways, extending services beyond our physical location to strengthen services and connections to the surrounding community. As throughout our 40 year history, we continue to provide exemplary education and health care services with flexibility, persistence, and creativity -- both in-person and virtually -- to reach patients, students, and families where they are. Join us in celebrating our CEID home and the community we’ve built that transcends place and time.
Happy Summer to each of you, however it may look, and thank you for your ongoing support!
Few people know more about the inner workings of CEID than Board President Victoria Carlisle.
Victoria has been the President of the Board of Directors since 2015, but she has worn many hats for the organization long before that.
Victoria started as CEID’s Development Director in 2005. At the time, she was the only full-time employee in the Development Department so she wrote grants, worked with the board, solicited individual donations, and helped with day-to-day operations at the office. In the years since, she has been a steadfast donor, led and worked on fundraising committees - like the Walk-a-Thon and the Golf Tournament - and is a regular at all CEID staff and community events.
Victoria’s passion for CEID is no coincidence. From a young age, Victoria understood what it meant to live with people who require specialized care. Victoria's brother was born with a rare chromosomal disorder that resulted in profound cognitive and developmental disabilities and he has never been able to live independently. And when Victoria was still a young child, her father suffered extensive brain damage from an accident, severely impacting his day to day functioning.
Sadly, there was never any community or family support available as Victoria grew up. No social workers, no respite for her mother – nothing.
“My experience with my dad and my brother was dysfunctional. I had not gotten any real community support,” explains Victoria. “But what I see in CEID is the (focus on the) whole family. The parents are looked after, the siblings are taken care of, and everyone’s needs are met. It is great to be part of something that takes care of the whole family as a unit.”
Along with managing the board and raising key funds for the agency, Victoria believes one of her key CEID responsibilities is being a sounding board and support for Executive Director Cindy Dickeson. “Cindy joined CEID three months after I did, and I feel that one of my primary roles is supporting her. Whether she needs to problem solve, discuss strategy, or talk to someone who completely, totally supports her in every way - my main role is to be a support to Cindy as she leads the staff and programming,” says Victoria.
While Victoria believes CEID is an extremely well run and impactful organization, she worries that “CEID is the best kept secret” in the Bay Area. As she looks towards the future as Board President, Victoria is dedicated to helping with marketing efforts for CEID that will help sustain the organization for generations to come, for example by paying off the mortgage to free up resources to increase our program and support for children and families.
“I’ve always wanted a marketing campaign to get CEID’s name out there more. Everything about our building is for the children we're in service to. This isn't a school for just anyone, this is for us” says Victoria. She also hopes to “spearhead a movement among those of us who can give - now is the time."
Victoria feels very fortunate to be able to lend her time and resources to CEID and other non-profits as she raises her three children, Jack, Lucinda and Margot, to understand their responsibility to give back.
“From very early on, my husband Todd and I have had frank and honest conversations about the privilege our children have,” said Victoria. “We really wanted to set in the ideal that ‘to those whom much is given much is expected.” Our children participate in the Walk-A-Thon; they go to CEID and play with the kids; and they are always a part of our family conversations around giving. We want them to understand that giving is not just about money but also about time and focus on an organization.”
The Carlisle family’s, and especially Victoria’s, commitment to CEID is immensely appreciated today and every day, just as it has been for the past 15 years.
As the world entered a new century, CEID moved into its permanent home. In 2005, CEID relocated to its current state-of-the-art facility in southwest Berkeley and established itself as a long-term resident and a pillar of the neighborhood.
The move represented a major change for CEID just as the 2000s brought on sweeping change to the country. Facebook launched in 2003, altering the course of history and forever changing online interaction and connectivity. Climate change became a household term as scientists and governments began to more fully recognize its devastating effects. And in 2008, Barack Obama, who had been a little known state senator just four years earlier, was elected as the United States’ first ever African-American president.
Disability rights also continued to make steady progress when in 2004 Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to ensure equity in education for all students with disabilities. In more ways than one, the 2000s represented a sea change for CEID, the community its serves, and the country.
One of the most pivotal moments in CEID history in the 2000s was the design, funding, and construction of CEID’s current Center in Berkeley, CA. After 15 years in a rented North Berkeley location on Hopkins Street, CEID raised funding to secure the property on Grayson Street and began building a specialized facility for our Bay Area community, a place where families could get all the services they need under one roof. Designed by a CEID alum parent, the CEID campus was custom-built to meet the needs of children and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing. Some of these unique features include one-way observation windows for parents and health professionals, a fully accessible playground, and a completely quiet radiant floor heating system for sound to be readily available.
With the custom building came much growth and expansion. Not only did the building allow CEID to better serve the existing children and families, it also paved the way for new services, including our on-site Audiology Clinic. This gave CEID another avenue to meet the needs of both new and existing patients through professional, licensed audiology services. Today, the Clinic serves all ages from newborns to seniors through hearing screenings, evaluations, hearing aid fittings, and so much more.
The building also allowed CEID to open the Sunshine Preschool and Childcare for typically developing children to attend alongside their peers who are deaf and hard of hearing. Today, the Sunshine Preschool and Childcare continues to foster an environment of inclusion, where children are exposed to sign language and participate in field trips with their peers who are deaf and hard of hearing. Through this integrative approach, we are proud to create a space for CEID students to develop sensitivity, empathy, and compassion.
During our 40th anniversary, we gratefully remember the donors and key advocates who made the building possible and continue to stay connected today: Eric Horodas (Board President at the time), Jill Ellis (Founder and Executive Director), Susi Marzuola (Building Architect), Moe Wright (BBI Construction), and many others. The goal of the Center was to be a one-stop shop for individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the CEID campus significantly grew our ability to be adaptive and sensitive to the changing needs of the community around us.
Looking forward in the decades to come, we will continue using our unique home to foster connection, provide critical resources, and create a safe, inclusive, community for all who enter our doors.
To donate towards sustaining our state-of the art Center, please visit www.ceid.org/donate.
For more information about our Center and a Virtual Tour, please visit https://www.ceid.org/our-center.html
We are taking all necessary precautions to safely re-open our Audiology clinic.
When Zoe learned that her one-year-old son Mateo was going to need hearing aids, she worried she would not be able to also remain in secure housing. The exorbitant out-of-pocket price for hearing aids, coupled with the Bay Area’s sky-high cost of living, seemed like it was going to be too much for Zoe and her young son to bear.
Thankfully, CEID was able to intervene.
CEID’s ability to work with CCS (California Children’s Services) insurance has meant that Zoe could prevent paying upwards of $15,000 to afford Mateo’s care.
“Without CEID, I don’t know that we could have stayed in the Bay Area,” explained Zoe.
CEID provided Mateo with two hearing aids, allowing the one-year-old to locate sound for the first time in his young life.
“There were kids outside and he was wide-eyed and looking around,” said Zoe of her son’s first time at CEID. “The best way I can describe it is that sound became 3-D.”
While early education may be what CEID is best known for, the Center sees a wide array of patients, of all ages, through its Audiology program.
Ninety percent of the audiology patients are low-income and many need to travel long distances for care because CEID is one of the few audiology service providers to accept MediCal. Patients also come from a wide range of backgrounds, too.
Dr. Michal Joseph, CEID’s Clinical and Dispensing Audiologist, explains that the diversity of patients seen is best exemplified through the many languages that patients speak. “We serve a large population, with speakers of Chinese languages, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi and we are sure to always have at least one Audiology Assistant who is fluent in Spanish,” said Dr. Joseph.
Dr. Joseph started with CEID as a contractor in 2008, when CEID was only working with pediatric patients and joined the staff fulltime in 2014. During her tenure, she has seen the program grow immensely - including adding a second clinic in Oakland for patients to have easier access to health care.
“The program has evolved tremendously over the years,” said Dr. Joseph. “When CEID opened adult services (in Oakland) it created a very high demand for that program.”
CEID's Oakland Audiology Clinic is part of the Rising Harte Wellness Center on the campus of Fred Finch Youth and Family Services. Since 2015, CEID has worked from this location to provide hearing evaluations and hearing aid fittings to participants of all ages. The Wellness Center also provides medical, dental and mental health services for Alameda County youth and families.
“Now with two clinic locations in Oakland and Berkeley, the program’s success and potential has gone from zero to a hundred,” said Dr. Joseph.
As the coronavirus pandemic hit, the audiology program had to quickly shift gears to adding remote and drop off services. This includes providing remote troubleshooting for hearing aid issues and supporting patients via phone or video and arranging curbside services for hearing aid repair.
The audiology clinic was the first of CEID’s services to re-open in person services this Summer, restarting at the Berkeley location during the first week of June. While thrilled to be working with patients in-person again, audiology staff have had to redouble their efforts to ensure staff and patients’ safety.
“Even before the pandemic we were worried about infection control but now we have to be compliant with federal, county, city regulations for the patients and staff safety, but at the same time not compromise the quality of the service,” said Dr. Joseph.
Early results from the reopened services have gotten positive reviews from participants.
“My dad is 92, so safety was really important. (CEID) really made us feel safe, thank you for everything.” said the daughter of current audiology patient, Lizardo.
Added Jose, another patient’s family member, “Communication has been really, really good. We come all the way from Fremont, so it was a little further than last time to Oakland but it was still really worth it.”
As CEID transitions to life after quarantine, with other programs reopening in the summer and fall, audiology has been leading the way – allowing patients to get gold standard, individualized, accessible and affordable care.
CEID Audiology Clinic welcomes patients of all ages—contact us for more information to get specialized hearing health care
To Our Community,
With April well under way, it’s been five weeks since we began learning about what it means to adapt and lead our lives in what is paradoxically a simpler but more complicated way. When the first Shelter in Place order began I shared that the CEID community is well poised to face the challenges of this new and uncertain time—educators, providers and parents of children with special needs know exactly how to adapt, innovate, connect and advocate. We spend our days figuring out how to adjust to systems and structures that don’t quite fit our child or family. We become even more resourceful and nimble as a result. Our CEID community is putting all of these skills to excellent use as we navigate unchartered territory that requires daily, even hourly resetting of our intents, actions and expectations.
Each week we are learning together with families to help children grow and adapt. We are also finding different ways to provide care and support to audiology patients. But this is nothing new. Working together through difficult times is something we have done every week, every year, every decade at CEID. We are now stretching to maximize communication in different ways. Our core work of making connections and building communities to reduce social isolation now has a new meaning as we utilize different methods. The success of CEID relies, as it always has, on a remarkable team of committed professionals, parents, patients, students and supporters.
I was proud to join the CEID staff team in 2007, but my true introduction to CEID started in the 1990’s—the highlight decade of this newsletter. My CEID story began in 1998 when I first met my future step-son Rafa (then 4 years old) and understood he was learning language through Total Communication (simultaneous use of sign with spoken language). This bright eyed preschooler was incredibly curious and eager to learn everything about the world around him. I wanted to be able to share it all with him. Luckily, his parents had found CEID, had fiercely advocated for him to attend and we all had access to weekly sign language classes. I began attending the evening classes led by Teacher Kim Burke-Giusti. In the classes, not only did I learn the sign vocabulary and strategies to communicate with Rafa, but I found connection with a group of adults sharing common experiences and learning from each other. Toukie’s (aka Davana’s) parents were my classmates (see Davana's article also in this issue). The high quality of comprehensive services and the high expectations set for students' potential and achievement were evident. CEID’s profound influence on Rafa and his family was undeniable and unforgettable.
In 1998, there was no other place that provided the level of intensive and comprehensive care to young children and their families like CEID. This was true in 1980 when CEID was founded and remains true today, 40 years later. For parents and family members like me, one cannot imagine navigating the complex systems and situations of having a child who is D/HH without the strong support, caring, connection and community that CEID offers. From D/HH adults as staff and role models, to comprehensive supports and services, to hearing tests, and to language-rich classrooms, CEID provides the best start and the best quality that every child and family deserves. The original approach of CEID in 1980 to accept no limits remains evident today as our team and families respond to this unique time with new services and remarkable support. Today, as I have since 1998, I remain proud and grateful to be a part of the CEID Community.