10.22.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019- GA H&V Executive Director & ASTra Program Director Deshonda Washington

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019- GA H&V Executive Director & ASTra Program Director
Deshonda Washington 



There were 9 of us from Georgia Hands & Voices that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University! Each of us collected our thoughts from the conference so please check out the 8 blog posts before this one. 

This is post number 9 and it was saved on purpose as the closing post.  Every year at the Hands & Voices Leadership Conference we end with "The Naming Circle." Every conference attendee gathers in a circle. The microphone is passed to each person. We speak and/or sign the names of our Deaf/Hard of Hearing children.  It's a speaking into existence a promise to never forget them & to always advocate for them. It's raw reality. It's self-reflection. It's self-motivation.  After you say your child's name, you grab the hand of the person next to you to form a chain.....it symbolizes that our bond can never be broken. We hold hands so you also feel that you have someone on this journey with you. 
Pictures from 2019 Naming Circle





"Speaking her name during the Naming Circle is always a reminder of WHY I do this work........LAUREN." - Deshonda Washington
Lorenzo, Lauren, & Deshonda Washington 





10.21.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-GA H&V, GBYS Program Coordinator-Scarlett Giles

 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019
by GA H&V, GBYS Program Coordinator-Scarlett Giles

*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. 
Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. 
GA H&V Guide By Your Side Team at the Conference
Left to Right: Kelly Cashion, Scarlett Giles, Katie Hope, Nadia Martinez, & Beth Flaherty
"Learning in the Lounge"
Like I organize my holiday decor, I must also organize my thoughts by coming up with a theme. The theme I came up with for this blog post is "Learning in the Lounge." The most impactful moments/learning for me on this conference trip took place in what I will call "the Lounge." "The Lounge" is those moments that are unstructured & even sometimes pushing the boundaries of comfort.  My work team knows that I am a very "structured" Boss with due dates, emails, etc....ok, so I can be a Micro-Manager. I am a planner. But my team will also tell you that I will push boundaries in a unstructured sometimes chaotic way.  Before I give you my Lounge examples, the Conference sessions & presenters were amazing! 
I jotted down many notes, but I will share 3 quotes from the sessions that impacted me:
1. Lead from a place of empathy, not sympathy.
2. Take the Journey with me not for me.
3. When you forget your "why" you lose your way. 

My "Learning in the Lounge" Examples
1. Lounge Traveling- You sure learn who people are when you travel with them. We all learn each other's picky eating habits, bedtime rituals, & superstitious ways.  By superstitious ways, I mean if you fly with me you must touch the outside of the plane as we board. I had a snickers bar at the airport that said, "Who are you when you are Hungry?"....Hangry people cannot suppress their mood! Below is a picture of us eating authentic Chinese food. I learned a lot as I watched people try to say the name on the menu, ask questions about unknown words, & be delightfully surprised at the taste. Another picture below is our name badges. We got to decorate them & they give you a glimpse into each of our personalities. 
We were able to decorate our name badges.....it tells you a lot about a person. 

Chinese food in Chinatown 
2. Lounge Sightseeing- This trip we flew in a day early for some D.C. sightseeing. I have a friend from college that lives there and took us around the monuments.  Besides the size of the monuments, their words had an even bigger "Lounge learning impact." "Freedom is not Free" sat outside the Korean & Vietnam memorials. 

Deshonda Washington, Scarlett Giles, & their 'personal tour guide of the day Juan, aka Scarlett's friend from college. 

Deshonda Washington (GA H&V Executive Director /ASTra Program Director) & Scarlett Giles touring Washington D.C. 
The MLK Jr. memorial site had many great quotes to ponder. "Out of the mountain of despair. A stone of hope." was inscribed on the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. as shown above. Another quote by King was "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge & controversy. The most touching "Lounge moment" was when the three of us were lounging on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial. Juan said, "You see all those people looking out to the reflecting pool/Washington monument? They are missing the best part. They are standing right where MLK Jr. gave his "I have a Dream" speech.  It’s actually inscribed on the ground, but most people never see it.” The picture above shows the moment when the crowd cleared. Deshonda walked up and looked down. We stood where MLK Jr. stood! As you looked out at the vastness you could hear in your mind the crowds roar back in the day, and we know today that his words traveled way further than those steps.  
Deshonda & Scarlett at the Nat. Museum of African American History
My favorite Lounge Sightseeing moment actually lasted 3 hours. WE, a southern white girl & a southern African American girl, walked together in the National Museum of African American History & Culture.  We walked the highs.....pop culture-Whitney Houston, James Brown, Michael Jordan. We descended literally in an elevator into the lows.... slavery. The only way out was to ascend upwards.  The only way through was to acknowledge it & learn something from it. 

3. Lounge Uptime- Saturday night at the conference is always downtime, but Hands & Voices calls it "Uptime."  Uptime is when you choose to attend a planned social event with fellow conference goers. History tours, local culture, arts/craft fairs, etc. are among the choices each year. H&V also has a tradition to have everyone meet after Uptime at a local restaurant/bar for the ultimate stress relief/bonding......DANCING! It's breaks the ice so to speak. The wall flowers wish they had the nerve to dance & the dancers sometimes wish they had stayed on the wall.  The picture below was actually taken by Hands & Voices, Executive Director, Janet DesGeorges. She is also one of the founders of Hands & Voices. She is pictured in the right bottom corner. I love this picture because we are out dancing, some of us have never met as we are all from different states, but we had a great time bonding. 
GA H&V team (5 of us in the top right) dancing with other H&V members during Uptime.  
4. Lounge Intermission- Our days were packed with sessions, but there was a big "Lounge Moment" for me during a session break.  I went to a presentation by Kentucky H&V in which they had horses & Horseshoes (for luck)for table decor. Afterwards I saw them on the elevator and told them that my daughter Amelia wanted me to bring back her a horse from DC. The next day the ladies from Kentucky H&V handed me their table decor horse and told me to give it to Amelia. Their chapter name for the horse is Harvey. Guess what? HARVEY was Amelia's grandfather whom had Deaf parents. I thought, Hello Harvey from Heaven....message received. 
Picture to go with Kentucky H&V Horse Story above
5. Lounge Lunch Break- During our lunch break, GA H&V team members decided to do a self-guided tour of  Gallaudet University. We walked the campus and came upon a chapel. I, of course, urged everyone to follow me to see if the door was open. Not only was the door open, but we walked into a museum of the university's history. Reading about the political and social history the school had weathered through was touching. Below is a picture of  these amazing ASL hand statues that sat in the museum. I took a picture of each one & sent my two Hard of Hearing children their names in sign. 
Gallaudet University Museum 

In Gallaudet's Museum 
All of these "Learning in the Lounge" moments leads me to a concept I heard about at the conference. It's called the "Lollipop Moment." Many great people, like MLK Jr. had a dream, & as the quote above says, " We still have a Dream." The concept is we have dreams of changing the whole world, but what if you changed one person's world. The story goes in short (long version in video link below) a guy named Drew Dudley was passing out Lollipops at Freshman Orientation for a club cause. He gave one to a shy guy standing in line next to a girl who had planned to later that day tell her parents that she felt like she didn't fit in at the college and wanted to go home. Dudley then told the guy to give this beautiful girl the lollipop. Awkward moment ensued then laughter. 4 years later, the girl found Dudley & said you are the reason I stayed, because you broke the ice and made me feel like I could make this place my home. She also said by the way the guy you made give me the Lollipop has been my boyfriend for these past 4 years. Another year later, Dudley gets an invitation to their wedding. It was a "Lollipop Moment" Dudley did a simple act that had no impact on his life, yet it changed the life of someone else. Full video story link here  https://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership?language=en&fbclid=IwAR2lu0jmWueO_i2SJKjtg5ukboh21KU0IHn-13mheaoxtjuSFHtROIk6i_4#t-344431

Perhaps you might have changed somebody's life without even knowing it. Is there a "Lollipop Moment" that changed your life?  Did you tell that person? I thought about this concept today and I remembered of a Lollipop text message I received a few months ago from my dear friend and coworker Deshonda. I did a screenshot of the text at the time, because it was so kind & powerful. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing it, but she knows me......so I'm sharing it. 
Thank you Deshonda for giving me a "Lollipop Moment." Deshonda & I have had lots of "Learning in the Lounge" moments over the past 5 years.  In the Lounge is where the real dialogue happens. It's what our souls needs & it's what our community needs. I look forward to sharing more moments with my team, with our GA H&V community, & with H&V chapters all over the world. 
-
GA H&V, Guide By Your Side Program Coordinator- Scarlett Giles
GA H&V team that went to the D.C. Conference 2019

H&V Chapters from all across the United States drawing symbols that define their chapter, but unite us in one banner. 


10.17.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-Parent Guide Kelly Cashion



 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-Parent Guide Kelly Cashion

*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. *

H&V Leadership Conference 2019

Our Team exploring the Gallaudet Campus & Museum 


                I love history and museums. I enjoy learning about the past and how society has changed into the present culture. Where better to explore history and museums than in Washington, DC? I would have loved that opportunity, however, jobs, family and life happened and I was unable to spend much time at all discovering all that DC has to offer. It is on my bucket list to go back! 

One museum I did get to was the one right on the campus of Gallaudet University (see pic above.) It contained artifacts and information that described the humble beginnings of the school, the history of ASL and, most importantly, the students and people of the University. It was such an inspiration to learn of how deaf and hard of hearing people have overcome challenges. It was also interesting to learn of how the students have ensured that they have a say in the administration of their school and that their rights and best interests are kept as the priority. As the only American university for the deaf and hard of hearing, Gallaudet has impacted and shaped not only the students and Deaf community, but it has had an impact on the American culture as a whole. How awesome it is to know that our own children live in a day and age in which the future as a Deaf or Hard of Hearing person is so promising.  Thank you, Hands & Voices, for once again for hosting this annual gathering of parents and professionals so that we may continue to advance the future of our children.

 -Parent Guide Kelly Cashion


Side Story-by Scarlett Giles
I wanted to share a story about Kelly Cashion. Parent Guide Kelly Cashion, ASTra Advocate Vicki Hilpp, & GA H&V, GBYS Coordinator Scarlett Giles got 2nd place in the "H&V's Got Talent" show.  Below is a picture of our talent show team, which was made up of H&V people from all across the country. Our team came up with the concept of performance art of the Washington Monument, honestly, as a joke. Maybe... it started out in my mind and came out my mouth. Other teams had performed synchronized dancing, singing, signing, but we walked on stage and stood silent like the Washington Monument (see pic) &  held our hands in the sign for love.  AWKWARD silence, but then Laura Godfrey from Minnesota takes the microphone and says a quote we found, "Some moments, are monuments...preserve them forever. " then she mic dropped and the crowd went wild.
The conference is always filled with so many laughs!!


10.15.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-ASTra Advocate-Kelli Graham

 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-ASTra Advocate-Kelli Graham



*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. *
ASTra Advocates in D.C.
Left to Right: Valerie Dixon, Kelli Graham, Vicki Hilpp


Kelli's Favorite Session: 

Workshop Title: Practical Approaches for Inclusion of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children at Home and Extended Family Events

Getting together with family and friends over the holidays? Here are some great ways to promote DHH inclusion:

1. Play deaf “telephone game”: Pass a sign (or phrase) under the table from person to person; OR, form a line in the living room then pass a sign (or phrase) from person to person.
2. Play visual games that include everyone - ex. Rummikub, Spoons, Yahtzee, Loterio, Scribblish/Telestrations
3. Want a game that flips the tables and illustrates to family and friends the fallibility of reading lips? Play “Hearing Things”. Family members wear headphones to block out noise while trying to lip read each other’s lips.
4. Having a camp out or sleep over? Accessibility to communication is difficult when the lights go out. Think about providing glow sticks to everyone so there is enough light to see faces of others and/or signs clearly or, think about hanging Christmas lights or providing battery powered LED lights. LED lights can be used in a tent, etc.

10.14.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-ASTra Advocate-Valerie Dixon

 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-ASTra Advocate-Valerie Dixon

*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. *

Left- ASTra Advocate Kelli Graham
Right- ASTra Advocate Valerie Dixon

As a first-time attendee at H&V Leadership Conference, I was quite delighted to share in this experience. There I was amongst so many people that choose to advocate and support the many families with children who are Deaf or hard of hearing. This learning opportunity allowed me to have another perspective on so many issues.
Left-ASTra Program Director-Deshonda Washington
Center-GBYS Program Coordinator-Scarlett Giles
Right-ASTra Advocate- Valerie Dixon

Facilitative Skills Workshop for IEP’s gave an opportunity to learn about using facilitators to help make the IEP process easier by resolving conflict in IEP meetings. Facilitative or active listening is about helping people understand each other in a structured and safe environment, creating a positive tone or reliving tension.
An important issue, and one that I am reminded of each time I begin an interaction with a family is, to offer support without bias. BIAS-- is to influence and inspire with prejudice; intent to coerce; belief that there is one right way for all DHH kids. We were reminded that bias can be an attitude, emotion, or action. A question to ask is---? Do you understand the communication considerations and complexity of the issues FOR THIS FAMILY?” There is a benefit of providing Unbiased support!
Lastly, there are many changes in world of unilateral hearing loss. As presented, one family shared the journey as their child moved through the educational system. There are many considerations to be made when supporting a child with a unilateral loss. Accommodation made should be varied. Unique considerations should be made as it relates to understanding unilateral hearing loss (UHL):  what is the impact on the child’s education? what are the eligibility assumptions and special considerations? Is there access to appropriate assessments? and what are some resources for families?
Left- ASTra Advocate- Valerie Dixon
Right- Parent Guide- Kelly Cashion

It was truly a great learning experience. As I continue to support families with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, I am reminded that there is much to learn. Additionally, we have a wonderful team in the state of Georgia. Looking forward to many more shared experiences. -ASTra Advocate Valerie Dixon


10.13.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-Parent Guide Katie Hope


 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-Parent Guide Katie Hope

*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. *


 I love conferences!  I always leave feeling rejuvenated, connected, and full of energy and ideas that I’m ready to implement into my life and my work.  The Hands & Voices Leadership Conference (HVLC) was no different.  A gathering of people from across the world from both the Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side and ASTra Advocate programs, as well as parents of children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) and the professionals who work with us (early interventionists, teachers, audiologists, etc), the purpose of this conference is to connect with others on this hearing loss journey, develop skills and receive training to better serve our families and be positive agents of change.  This year’s conference was held in Washington DC at Gallaudet University, the world’s only liberal arts university for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing!  



Our GA Hands & Voices team was absolutely thrilled about the conference and location for this year, but unfortunately there have been national and state budget cuts, and not all of us were going to be able to go.  I was one of the team members unable to attend, but our team would not settle for that!  It would have been my first Hands & Voices Leadership Conference, and everyone felt strongly about me being able to go to the conference for my own professional development, but also for the team bonding, connecting with other parents and professionals in the realm of hearing loss, and for my own personal journey.  My team rallied around me and contributed their own personal funds to ensure that I could go, and I have felt blessed me beyond measure.  I cannot express my gratitude to be part of such a generous, compassionate and loving group of women!  Thank you to my team:  more than coworkers, they have become my friends and my community.  So very grateful to be a valued part of this group and the work that we are doing together to better serve our Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Georgia and their families!


Back to H&VLC!   There was so much goodness at this conference!!  Although there is a ton I want to share, I've selected my top 3 favorites for this post!  
  • Favorite session:  Practical Approaches for Inclusion of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children at Home and Extended Family Events by Tony Ronco of the Hands & Voices HQ Board
  • Favorite social activity:  Uptime and then dancing!
  • Favorite connecting moments: Visiting with amazing people from around the country who are on this journey too!


Favorite Session: Practical Approaches for Inclusion of Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children at Home and Extended Family Events

In this session, we learned about visual games designed for bonding and promoting interaction within a family.  Deaf and Hard of Hearing children are often unintentionally left out in big gatherings.  The background noise level tends to be loud, people talk over one another or yell from another room, talk while eating, cover their mouths, etc.  Although these are typical things to happen at get-togethers, we can always be more mindful of how it affects our children!  A high noise level makes it much harder for our kiddos with hearing loss to follow what’s being said and be part of the conversation.  As you will see, these visual games don’t require much language, making them perfect for everyone to play and take part, whether you speak English, Spanish, Mandarin or use ASL (or if you are learning any of these!).  Here are a list of games, along with two video clips of a couple of games!  We had so much fun playing in our session, and you will too!  Remember, laughter is the key and the big draw.  If you can get people laughing, more people will naturally be intrigued and want to watch or join in!  Enjoy!
Disclaimer:  I'm including videos and pictures of slides I took during the session, but I want to give full credit to Tony Ronco of the Hands & Voices HQ Board for his presentation, research and activities that he shared!  Personal request to have this session again haha!  












This game is called Pass the Tap (click link to watch video) 
Watch their hands!  See how their hands are overlapping?  Six people gather round a table with their hands on the table in front of them and crossing arms with the person on either side of them.  The point is to tap each hand in order and keep it going round the table.  If someone taps their hand out of order, that hand is out!  Put it behind your back, then everyone gets closer and keeps going.  If someone double taps, that reverses the direction!  Last one in wins!

This game is called Deaf Telephone Game (click link to watch video).  
You’re passing along a message and seeing how distorted it gets by the end of the line!  In this game, you line up 6-10 people all facing one direction.  The person in the back of the line begins by tapping the shoulder of the person in front of them and showing them a sign or phrase, gesture, or movement.  The second person now has “the message,” then turns around, taps the shoulder of the person in front of them and shows them the message.  The message is passed down the line until you get to the first person.  Is the message the same as the initial person started it??  If it’s different, recruit someone from the audience to show the original message!  


Favorite social activity:  Uptime and dancing!


Uptime is actually “scheduled down time” within the conference every year!  It is a “mandatory session” where you an choose from different local activities to participate in with other attendees for some fun and social time outside of learning all day!  In DC, we could choose from a Tour of Gallaudet, visiting a local Deaf brewery, local distillery, the National Mall, Signing Starbucks and the H Street Festival.  Kelli and I chose the festival!  H Street is full of restaurants, shops (including the Signing Starbucks!) and things to do!  So we joined a group walking to H Street and then toured around, listening to music and people-watching, squeezing through the crowd, visited the Signing Starbucks and then ultimately joining up with our H&V crew for some dancing!  So much fun!!   


Favorite connecting moments: Visiting with amazing people from around the country who are on this journey too!


I treasure ANY time I get to spend with our GA Hands & Voices team.  We don't get the opportunity to get together very often, so when we do, it's quality time I relish and enjoy so much!  We laugh, chat, share our stories, ask questions, learn from one another and lift one another up!  At the conference, I was able to have this quality time with other Hands & Voices members and professionals too.  Here are some pictures of the awesome gals I connected with.  We may live in different states (Georgia, Colorado, Florida and Louisiana!), but in our heart of hearts, we are all in this for our Deaf and Hard of Hearing children and making the world a better place for them!  So thankful for all the beautiful people I met on this trip!  Until next time!


  


Just a reminder, WE NEED YOU!  Let's celebrate our differences!  

-Parent Guide Katie Hope

10.10.2019

Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-Diversity Parent Guide-Nadia Martinez


 Reflections from H&V Leadership Conference D.C. 2019-Diversity Parent Guide-Nadia Martinez

*We will have 9 Blog posts from our 9 GA H&V team members that went to the Annual Hands & Voices Leadership Conference this past September in Washington D.C. at Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the world's only Deaf/Hard of Hearing University. *

Left-ASTra Advocate Vicki Hilpp
Center-Diversity Parent Guide Nadia Martinez
Right- ASTra Advocate Kelli Graham


As usual I love every minute of the conference. Starting with our first session in the GBYS meeting.... it gave us the opportunity to get to know one another. My second session of the day provided me with ways on engaging through hands on activities and interactive dialogue. Day 2 I started off with ways to help with socializing skills and maintain lasting relationships. Research shows that a Deaf/HH person is more likely to lose a job over personal and social reasons than poor job performance. The personal strength profile was interesting on how to build rapport and better relationships. And, my favorite session was how to engage families of Deaf/HH children with games that everyone in the home can play like loterĂ­a and Telephone and how to adjust to be more visual. -Diversity Parent Guide -Nadia Martinez