Thursday, July 10, 2008

RE: Wanted: Strong, Neutral Parent Organization: H & V

In Jamie Berke's Post: Wanted: Strong, Neutral Parent Organization, she cites Hands & Voices:
Fortunately, there IS one parent organization that comes right out and cites on their About Us page all the communication methods as being supported. This page states "We are parents of ASL signers, cued speech users.... parents of kids with cochlear implants or total communicators..." There is one parent organization that combines the advocacy and perspectives of AGBell, DBC, and the NAD. That organization is Hands & Voices. (
I am not a member of Hands & Voices, but I know about the organization.)

*Jamie...please join*

Life is so strange sometimes, especially this past year and a half has been composed of bizarre coincidence after life-altering coincidence, so that Nothing surprises me anymore. My one published article was for The Communicator, a Hands & Voices publication. When I spoke at the NHS 2008 Conference, I met the Executive Director of Hands and Voices. I am now collaborating with a non-profit Research Organization here in Italy that will give me the opportunity to establish literature for the purpose of educating Health Professionals and a booklet for parents of newly diagnosed DHH children. Given my experience with my son combined with various debates and interactions with the Deaf Community, the Hands & Voices philosophy represents the approach I intend to utilize in presenting this information.

The H & V Way:
Hands & Voices is a nationwide non-profit organization dedicated to supporting families and their children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as the professionals who serve them. We are a parent-driven, parent/professional collaborative group that is unbiased towards communication modes and methods. Our diverse membership includes those who are deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing impaired and their families who communicate orally, with signs, cue, and/or combined methods. We exist to help our children reach their highest potential.

Methodology choices must be selected based on the needs of each individual child in each individual family two are alike. The concept of focusing on the child as a child first and foremost and not letting Deafness define the child or the family allows that family to prioritize their agenda from the beginning of their journey. Those first few steps tend to be wavering, however with strong support, in the form of Parent-Parent Support, those steps tend to become just a little bit more confident. A confident parent means a secure child.

The Hands & Voices website is a wealth of information. Check out their Guide By Your Side Program here:

"Guide-By-Your-Side (GBYS) is an innovative program designed to provide emotional support and specialized knowledge from trained parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing."

They organize leadership conferences and their leaders, knowledgable parents, speak at professional conferences to provide a parent's perspective on issues such as Early Hearing Detection Intervention Strategies, Genetics, the Parent-Professional Relationship, etc.

And just look at who one of their leaders is...Karen Putz, our very own Steak and Shake Queen:
Illinois Hands & Voices Chairperson
Karen Putz is profoundly deaf and is mom to three deaf and hard of hearing children. She holds a B.S. in Counseling and M.A. in Deafness Rehabilitation Counseling from Northern Illinois University. Karen is currently employed as a Deaf Mentor in early intervention and a substitute teacher for various deaf and hard of hearing programs. She teaches Conversational Sign Language at Joliet Junior College. As Chairperson of Illinois Hands & Voices, Karen's interests lie in parent networking and education. She serves on the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission Task Force on Communication Options.

*Gotta love any organization with Karen Putz*

Yes, I have found a place that represents my ideology in combining choice with strong parental support...think I'm just gonna have to establish a Chapter here in Italy. My To Do List is getting rather long, but I'm a motivated Mamma.


Anonymous said...

We need HV chapter in California!!! Their IMPACT organization has board members with polarizing views that werent embraced by some of them and the Deaf community of Fremont. Anyone out there interested in collaborating with some of us for HV chapter for our precious Golden state???

Unknown said...

Anonymous, I'll contact H&V to answer your question...stay tuned. Or email me at so that I can put you in touch with the right people...sorry so late on getting back to you! Jodi

Anonymous said...

This organization truly embraces Deafhood by encouraging people and families to explore their identities any way they want to. This true and open process is so valuable. We need an HV chapter in New York!

Karen Putz said...

I'm back from the Hands & Voices Leadership Workshop and finally have time to catch up-- and find this!

I have a to-do list a mile long so I can empathize about taking on another project. But just think how you'll affect change in Italy and give families a way to connect with one another.

Anonymous, contact Leeanne Seaver at to get involved with starting up a chapter in California.