My own understanding of the importance of connecting parents and children to adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (D/HH) developed over time while raising my stepson. His eyes would widen, light up and a smile would grow on his face every single time he would see another Deaf person-- no matter where we were or what we were doing. I can remember so many of those times very specifically because it was such an immediate and profound connection that he would demonstrate with complete strangers.
I recall the time were at a busy crosswalk and a family coming towards us was signing, we all noticed, stopped and waited for them to come across halting our original plan to get to the other side, so we could interact with them. The Deaf adults immediately signed to us, sizing up who is who, "Are you Deaf?” “No, hearing,” I clumsily signed, but my stepson signed for himself proudly noting, “I’m Deaf.” Then came welcoming smiles, language flowing, genuinely pulling him in. Even a two-minute interaction left him feeling connected, and me, his hearing parent, recognizing a connection only available beyond our own family’s deep love and adoration.
There was the time we planned a trip to Disneyland, and by incredible chance, it happened to be Deaf Awareness weekend there. Each show was made accessible by interpreters (without having to schedule them in advance), and there were hundreds of people who were D/HH throughout the park enjoying the community and connection—it was indeed the most magical place on earth that weekend. He was joyfully overwhelmed by the number of D/HH people, having never seen so many in one place.
The realities of being the only one of a handful of D/HH students in his school and our community was the more common experience, but these instances reinforced a lesson I carry with me today in my work at CEID. The experience and perspective of navigating a hearing world as a D/HH individual can only be fully understood by someone who has lived it. The rich perspective and depth of understanding of that shared experience, and importantly the connection that it creates, is one aspect of why it is so critical for CEID and other learning communities to have D/HH staff and volunteers. Each experience of my stepson’s instant connection to strangers led us to seek out opportunities to connect with the Deaf Community, to meet and learn about people who were D/HH, to find more peers and expand his exposure to others. From summer camps, to educational placement choices we sought, meeting D/HH people and learning their diverse, as well as shared, experiences taught us how to approach situations. We learned about resources, opportunities, cultural nuances and deepened our understanding of how to support our child.
It has not just been my family’s experience that bears this out. Research examining the positive impacts for parents of D/HH children who had contacts with D/HH adults showed significant effect on three stress scales: reduced isolation, increased interactional responsiveness and improved sense of competence.
At CEID we are proud to be one of the sites in California offering Deaf Coaching services for families with young children who are D/HH. While we have had Deaf Mentor projects in the past, we are proud to debut a newly developed program in collaboration with Deaf Service Agencies from across the state, which is part of a greater drive to incorporate D/HH adults into early intervention systems. A Deaf Coach is a Deaf adult who is a language role model and has the skills to work with families with D/HH children to promote language development and greater understanding of D/HH perspective with families. The Deaf Coach works with IFSP/IEP team members to support families and target strategies to integrate language into their homes and in the community.
At CEID, we work with the belief that, together, we create the world we live in. May it continue grow increasingly inclusive of all people.
CEID teachers inspire us every day, but as we just complete Teacher Appreciation Month, we wanted to celebrate and acknowledge the incredible skills, talents, and steady dedication of our educators. Not a day goes by at CEID that a parent or caregiver doesn’t remark on how grateful they are for CEID teachers, often starting with “I don’t know what we would do without the special teachers at CEID.”
In our education programs, our teachers instill the active learning skills and creativity that young children need to navigate school and life. Integral to our work is the collaborative and multidisciplinary approach provided to each student and their family to uncover strengths and challenges and promote growth and development during these critical early years.
For our D/HH programs, we are fortunate that educators and specialists with unparalleled knowledge, skills, and unique expertise in the field have chosen to be part of CEID, dedicating decades of their lives to work with our students and families. Our educators are an essential part of creating and nurturing our community through daily interactions with each family and their tireless advocacy for students with school districts, other educators, and professional groups.
Now more than ever, we understand the critical role teachers have in society and the importance of valuing and appreciating the incredible work they do. We are keenly aware of the challenges of living on a teacher’s salary in the Bay Area, so we strive to recognize our team throughout the year and provide them a positive and healthy work environment with professional development and other opportunities.
As an agency, we know we must invest in our teachers, and we are grateful for donors that understand the essential role of CEID teachers. One such organization is the Quest Foundation, who each year provides generous funding to keep our programs open during the Summer though a matching challenge grant to support staff salaries. You can help support our educators this summer by donating at www.ceid.org/summer.
CEID is proud to announce the launch of our newest effort to support families with children who are D/HH: Deaf Coaching Services for Families program.
The program employs individuals who are D/HH as Deaf Coaches. These adult mentors are language role models and work with families with D/HH children to promote language development and provide greater understanding of the D/HH perspective. The Deaf Coach works with IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plan) team members to support families in the language acquisition goals of the child and the family.
CEID has offered deaf mentor programming in the past for specific situations, but this opportunity offers a more sustainable program. The current Deaf Coaching program comes at a time where there is increased recognition statewide of the importance of meaningful participation of D/HH individuals as part of family support services. The startup of the program was funded, in-part, by Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K) and collaborative efforts to make these services available to children throughout California.
Davana Jackson-Roberts, CEID Alum and teacher’s assistant, is CEID’s Deaf Coach Coordinator and the main contact for the program. She is closely aligned to the mission of the program and has a strong desire to dispel harmful stereotypes about Deaf individuals.
“There are false assumptions that deaf people cannot do the same things as others, such as driving a car. Having a Deaf Coach can break those barriers down,” said Davana.
The benefits of having a Deaf Coach are numerous. Among other benefits, a Deaf Coach can provide access to extensive knowledge of Deaf culture and the Deaf community, be a positive Deaf adult role model for a child who is D/HH, encourage language development, and equip parents and caregivers with tools to better support their child.
While the Deaf Coaches will certainly assist with “hard” skills such as learning how to sign or how to manage hearing aids, Davana expects that at least half of the job will be focused on learning how to support the social and emotional experiences of a person who is D/HH.
Davana and CEID Executive Director Cindy Dickeson are reaching out to CEID alumni, staff, and other community members with experience working with children and supporting families, to serve as a role model as the first cohort of Deaf Coaches. These roles are paid positions and all Deaf Coaches will be screened by CEID staff and attend monthly workshops and trainings on best practices for supporting families.
Creating a new program is a daunting task and Davana admits that it has been nerve-wracking at points. But she’s confident that her efforts will be well worth it.
“It has been a little overwhelming, but also exciting, because I believe strongly that everyone needs a Deaf Coach and in getting these services out there,” said Davana. Through the Deaf Coaching Services Program, we hope to foster greater communication and connection for children and families in the Bay Area.
For more information, or if you are interested in joining the Deaf coaching program, please email Davana at Davana@ceid.org.
Learning doesn’t take a vacation at CEID. Our education programs continue throughout the summer so that children and families have consistent services to maintain and develop skills. This summer our classroom curriculum has a heightened focus on Social and Emotional Learning (SEL).
Developing life skills through SEL—shaping a healthy identity, managing emotions, showing empathy, maintaining supportive relationships, making responsible decisions— leads to a happier, healthier life.
In the past year, our students and their families have adapted to changes in their everyday lives during the pandemic. Maintaining the mental health and well-being of young children has become even more critical to protecting students and to helping them thrive. Understanding emotions and self-regulation are essential skills that we will continue to build this summer, which can be even more important for children who are D/HH.
With this in mind, our summer programming will teach students and their families techniques and strategies for overall healthy development. One tool we utilize is a SEL curriculum called Kimochis®. The Kimochis® is a developmentally appropriate step-by-step method to introduce discussion and management of emotions using special stuffed animals, stories and tools. This curriculum is designed to give children and families the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to recognize and manage emotions, demonstrate caring for others, establish positive relationships and handle challenging situations constructively.
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) may face greater challenges when it comes to building these critical skills. While a child’s parents or caregivers play the biggest role in their child’s SEL development, experiences with teachers and other adults can help give students more practice in understanding emotions and developing strong social relationships, which increases confidence and self-esteem.
CEID has a proven track record when it comes to teaching SEL skills, with 92% of parents agreeing that because of CEID, “I learned how to support my child’s behavior with positive strategies.” We are proud of our success in teaching SEL skills and look forward to continuing to expand our SEL curriculum even more in the months to come!
Connections. We celebrate connections each day at CEID. The connection of a word, signed or spoken, to a concept. Connections to make sense of a new sound discovered through a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Connections to information, to support, to skills. And the connections we make with each other to our students, to families, to patients, to donors. Each individual connection grows and shifts…expanding out to make new connections, each building on the last to form the next. The ripple effects continue far beyond the initial connection. It is this inter-relatedness and capacity to grow that we depend on at the core of our work and daily lives at CEID.
In this newsletter we highlight a “CEID Connector”— what began as a sharing of ideas then sparked an interest leading to curiosity to find out more and with an already existing commitment to be engaged in his community, led to years of support for CEID. Then eventually, another connection was made back to CEID to connect him with access to lost sounds via hearing aids and audiological care.
We recognize daily how fortunate we are to foster connections and grab the thread and follow it--being intentional about the possibilities any one connection might make. Our Walk-A-Thon in the Spring is dependent upon connections. It is our grassroots, peer-to-peer fundraiser that asks our community to reach out to their communities to seek support for our services. For 18 years it has connected us the day of the event and, in advance, to gather supporters. It importantly raises much needed funds for our programs and increases awareness about who we are, and why it matters.
A person’s intention to care and to make a connection releases a world of possibility. The multiplier effect is limitless and the positive impact profound. What is the ripple effect you will make today? Send your ideas my way. firstname.lastname@example.org
CEID relies on a broad community of supporters who believe in the impact of our services and who take action to make sure that CEID thrives.
Over the years, CEID has seen many families, friends, and patients become CEID advocates and champions. Sometimes, as in the case of Bruce Willock, the CEID supporter becomes a CEID service recipient. Bruce Willock, has been a CEID donor since 2012 both personally and as a member of the Berkeley Rotary Club.
“Bruce is a wonderful example of an actively engaged supporter of CEID—from the moment he first found out about CEID he wanted to learn more and through the years has created many opportunities to expand his involvement and deepen his impact on our agency,” said CEID Executive Director, Cindy Dickeson.
Initially, Bruce was interested in learning about deaf education because both his father and brother navigated hearing loss. His father was nearly deaf when Bruce was a child so he saw firsthand the detrimental effects of untreated hearing loss.
Bruce first learned of CEID about ten years ago, when he watched a TED-x talk, by CEID co-founder Jill Ellis, describing the critical importance of early identification of babies who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. He was instantly enthralled! He asked Jill to introduce CEID to the Berkeley Rotary Club and followed up with a visit to CEID’s Berkeley Center. “I watched the incredible skill and enthusiasm one teacher brought to working with preschool age children with sign language; observed the integrated hearing and D/HH preschool kids interacting with each other and said to myself ‘this is a top notch’ organization,” shared Bruce.
Bringing his community connections to benefit CEID, this remarkable champion has also become a CEID Audiology patient. About six years ago, Bruce’s hearing started to degrade. “My late older brother had very impaired hearing most of his adult life. Now, for the past (several) years, it’s been my turn,” said Bruce.
Already aware of CEID’s Audiology services, Bruce inquired if the Center would take private patients and was glad to learn that CEID accepted commercial insurance as well as Medicare and MediCal insurance. He was quickly set up with high quality hearing aids and has been a CEID patient ever since. Bruce receives ongoing care from the Audiology Team, sometimes visiting the Berkeley Clinic and other times at the Oakland clinic.
Bruce says he’s always made to feel special and notes that the audiologists connect by sharing stories and learning more about his needs. He also shared positive reviews of the support staff, who he described as “delightful” even when just coming by to pick up hearing aid batteries.
CEID’s team is just as fond of Bruce. “He has a generosity of spirit that is infectious—you need only spend a few minutes talking with him to genuinely feel how deeply he cares about others,” said Cindy.
Commercial Insurance and private pay patients, like Bruce, make it possible for CEID to provide high quality hearing health care to a range of patients who are underinsured or uninsured and wouldn’t otherwise be able to access specialized, individualized care.
Community is paramount to CEID’s work. And the more mutually beneficial relationships a community has, the stronger that community will be. Bruce Willock’s connection to CEID is a perfect example of that concept in action. “Bruce Willock is a great CEID Champion-- as a connector and life-long learner—a perfect fit with our agency values and an incredible member of our CEID Community,” said Cindy.