Being Deaf Does Not Mean We’re Broken

DHH & KOB

Webster’s dictionary defines deaf as: “lacking or deficient in the sense of hearing.”

We’re not broken.
What people may not know is, behind the meaning of the word “deaf,” is a beautiful and rich culture, complete with its own traditions, language and people. “Deaf” may be seen as a negative occurrence because hearing loss, or hearing impairment, is often seen as disabled.

As a community, we believe the complete opposite. People who are deaf do not see themselves as broken or as a disability. We believe we do not need to be fixed because we are immersed in an amazing culture that has shaped our identities and given us a way to express ourselves. We do need to be respected.

Being deaf is part of our identity.

Just as the hearing community is made up of unique individuals, the Deaf community is, as well. Not all people who are deaf use sign language, there are people who are deaf who can speak or can use both voice and sign. Some people who are deaf go to deaf institutions while others go to public schools with an interpreter. People who are deaf might use hearing aids, have cochlear implants or not have any hearing assistance at all. Each person is an individual and unique in their own way, just like a person in the hearing community.

The definition of deaf is much more appropriate to use when describing someone who is older and who is losing their hearing. These people usually are not involved with the Deaf community and do not know Deaf culture or the language. One of our goals is to expand hearing people’s perspective of people who are deaf. Being deaf does not mean you are broken. Deaf individuals are just as capable as hearing individuals.

Being deaf is an identity.

Communication is just as essential for someone who is deaf. Remember communication is not dependent on one’s ability to hear; it’s on one’s ability to receive information and express oneself.

The majority of communication is nonverbal, nonverbal communication involves actions, body language, gestures and facial expressions. Deaf culture depends fully on visuals and gestures, better known as American Sign Language.

American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, grammatically complex language; it is NOT the same as the English language. Just like someone who is hearing would not say, Chinese is the same as English. As mentioned earlier, methods of communications for the deaf can include either speech, sign language, or both. When a person tells you they are deaf, do not panic or run away. If they speak to you, speak normally and face to face. If they use paper and pen or a phone to communicate, write back. If you know some sign language, do not be afraid to use it. People who are deaf can be patient and willing to help you learn sign language. Deaf people will appreciate your efforts to communicate with them in a way that is not normal for hearing people. Lastly, please ask questions, no matter how silly it may seem. It’s better to educate yourself then to assume.

Here’s a much better definition of deaf, provided by Gallaudet

If you feel so inclined to learn some sign, check out our Deaf Teaching Hearing Series on YouTube.

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The Importance of Self-Care

Importance of Self-Care

Sometimes managing work, family, and a multitude of daily activities can be overwhelming.  Our challenge is to maintain our resilience so that we can keep doing our vital work with care, energy and compassion. Self-care is an important

10 Things To Do For Yourself Everyday (Self-Care)

  1. Get enough sleep.
  2. Get enough to eat.
  3. Do some light exercise.
  4. Vary the work what you do.
  5. Do something pleasurable.
  6. Focus on what you did well.
  7. Learn from your mistakes.
  8. Share a private joke.
  9. Pray, meditate or relax.
  10. Support a colleague.

How are our counselors and staff taking care of their well-being?

Here’s a great activity to demonstrate the importance of self-care

Resources

Here are a few more helpful self –care resources:

Headspace-Think of Headspace like a gym but for your mind.

The Quiet Place Project– an online space with various exercise to help you relax and get away from it all for a bit.

Pixel Thoughts– to put your stressful thoughts in a shrinking star and watch them fade away for some temporary relief.

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Tips to Encourage Your Child To Read

DHH & KOB2

We’re celebrating Read Across America Day with a few tips to encourage your little one to read.

Kids on the Block values the importance of literacy, and works closely with elementary school students to empower them to become great readers. We strongly believe reading can be enjoyable for any child on any level.

Here are some tips from Kids on the Block to help elementary school students become great readers:

Tips to Encourage Your Child To Read

  • Help your kids set reading goals. Reading is different for everyone, so let your child set personal goals to reach. This can be reading one book independently per day, or even working their way up to their first chapter book.
  • Read to and with your kids. Take turns reading portions of a book before bed. Hearing words read aloud is just as significant as having your child read them independently.
  • Let your kids read common items around the house. For instance, have them read recipe instructions when cooking meals, directions when assembling household products, or even sections of the newspaper.
  • Most importantly, remind your kids that reading can be fun! Encourage them to choose books, magazines, and comics they would enjoy. Reading is beneficial no matter what materials are used.

“The more you read,

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn,

The more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

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How To: Encourage Your Children to Be Kind

KOB RAK

We’re often asked, “How can parents encourage their children to be kind?”

We’ve compiled a few tips to help!

  • Say no to “Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but words can NEVER hurt me.” Discuss to children about the impact words can really have on others, and encourage them to say kind words, words of encouragement and support.
  • Encourage conversations about actions and consequences. Let kids know that positive actions result in positive consequences. Tell them they can make a big impact by using kindness. For example, when one puppet kid is insulted, she responds with a compliment to the bully. This kindness disarms the bully; he cannot respond to her positivity with negativity and more hurtful words.
  • Make a big deal about little acts of kindness. Point out and congratulate even the smallest acts of kindness from your child. Using positive reinforcement can empower your child to spread kindness more often.

Kids on the Block continually encourages young children to be kind through the “Sticks & Stones” presentation. Through puppetry, the students are challenged to create a positive environment in their own school by sharing kindness with one another. Throughout the show the kids learn how everyone is different and how to celebrate those differences instead of teasing others.

After thinking about how it feels to hurt someone’s feelings, Kids on The Block asks each child in the crowd to find three different people and say one nice thing to each. We encourage them find other students or teachers they may not know very well to spread kindness throughout the school.We also would like to take this opportunity to encourage the adults reading this to find three different people to either say something to or do a sweet gesture for.

Helping kids understand differences will also help create empathy and encourage kids to be kind. Check out our kids teaching what diversity means!

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Not Enough Parents Are Learning Sign

Not Enough Parents Are Learning How To Communicate With Their Kids

Not enough families are learning how to communicate with their kids.

According to Gallaudet research, 90% of children who are deaf are born into hearing families and of those 90% of hearing parents only 23% of them learn American Sign Language. This leaves 77% of children who are deaf in isolation within their home. Imagine spending every day in your home in silence. Looking around the room and seeing everyone smiling, laughing, crying, angry, but having no understand of why. Imagine not having a way to tell your mom you are hungry or hurting or if you have to use the restroom. Imagine not being able to bond with your siblings because you can’t talk to them.  Children in this situation can feel isolated, frustrated, and often depressed.

This will also result in an academic delay. When a child who has never been exposed to language arrives in the school system it is the first time they are exposed to any language. They have to start with the basics; the alphabet, colors, numbers and just understanding that everything around them has a name, even they do!  It takes them years to catch up on basic language skills so these children spend most of their time academically behind and often have to repeat early grade levels for their basic language skills to develop.

So why do many parents not learn sign language? Often it is a matter of resources, time, money, or parents feeling overwhelmed with learning a new language. It’s not that they don’t want to learn, it’s just difficult to figure out where to begin.

However, these days there are plenty of resources that are available and free.  There are organization that teach sign language classes to parents, computer classes, and even phone apps. Here is a list of wonderful resources to help parents not only learn sign language but connect with the deaf community!

Organizations:

STARS- In-home sign language classes for parents.

Bridges-Free sign classes for parents of deaf children, interpreting services, case management for deaf, youth program for deaf and hard of hearing children, events.

Hands and Voices– Support group for parents who have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing

Gate Communications– Sign language classes, interpreting services, events, workshops

Library Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing-Sign language books, videos and other resources. Click on “connect’ for a full list of resources.

Online resources:

STARS Deaf Teaching Hearing Series

Lifeprint.com

ASLPRO.com

Phone APPS for Iphone and Droid-

MarleeSigns

Sign Language dictionary ($4.99)

The ASL App

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