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

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