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Delaware Families for Hands & Voices
July Newsletter


Options and Opportunities


The theme of the newsletter this month seems to be the widening range of educational options available to deaf and hard of hearing students today. Hands & Voices is an absolute supporter of parents’ right to choose communication methods for their own children. We do not take sides on which choice is better for everyone because we do not believe that any one choice could ever be better for everyone, but rather that each family should explore all options and decide for themselves accsign postording to their own individual situation. I am grateful to all the folks who have fought hard to make it possible for my husband and I to be able to choose how our sons will communicate and learn until they are old enough to choose for themselves. I am also grateful that when the time comes our sons will be able to choose for themselves. As a mathematician I have to try hard not to laugh out loud when I hear words like “always” and “never” applied to human beings, especially children. While popular methodology has changed drastically over the years, the assumed ability and responsibility of the state to select the method tkid in the roadhat is “always” best seems to be stubbornly holding on. Even today you would have a hard time finding a state that is not hotly debating which method is “always” right. Important, intelligent, invested individuals and groups are thoroughly entrenched on all sides of this battle. Through Guide By Your Side I have had the privilege of meeting families who are finding the best options for themselves on every side. I continue to be impressed by the power of loving and well informed parents to figure out which path to take, and I sincerely hope that the trend in deaf education will be toward further empowering those parents and by extension their children with a continued widening of options and strengthening of parental rights.


New Listening and Spoken Language Skills Classroom at Christina Early Education Center

Christina Early Education CenterThe Christiana Early Education Center is offering a new Listening and Spoken Language Skills classroom for deaf and hard of hearing students age 2-4. LSS is a different approach from the classes at Delaware School for the Deaf.  The program focuses on auditory-verbal skills with play based instruction.


The flyer with contact information can be found here, and the website for the school can be found here: 


More information on LSS and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing is available on their website here:


Continuum of Educational Options in Delaware


by Della Thomas, Director of Statewide Programs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


I never quite realized how much the IEP process is like an algebra problem. You have your given facts (data), you have variables (class size, social skills, listening environment), and from that you build an equation hopefully one that equals a positive educational experience for your child. One of the variables that I listed is that of the educational environment itself. Through the communication considerations guideline that was talked about a few months ago*, certain questions are designed to help the team consider all aspects of the impact of a hearing loss. During the IEP or 504 meeting, when the team has considered what the needs of the student are, you need to decide where those needs would best be met. It is important to look at the educational opportunities for your child - one that will give him/her the support that is needed.


First rule of thumb is that the child does not need to fit the program. Instead, the program fits the child. Just because a program has never been built before, doesn’t mean it can’t be. Of course, there are issues to consider – the importance of critical mass for a student’s development and those kinds of things. Critical mass is a term used to describe any number of things – the number of students who have similar needs and educational approaches, a peer group for socialization, etc.


Secondly, you need to know sort of the gamut of opportunities that could exist. Below is a chart that Statewide Programs uses when trying to explain examples of the various educational scenarios:

Continuum Sample Diagram 3


Click here for a full page version of this diagram


On the extreme end of the continuum, the child attends a regular public school with little-to-no supports to accommodate for his hearing loss. Opportunities along that continuum become more and more specific to accommodate for the hearing loss. There could be consultation from a teacher well-versed in deaf/hard of hearing issues who comes and meets with the general education teacher, there could be some time when your child is pulled out to a resource room for support and direct instruction or the teacher of the deaf/hh could come into the general education classroom to work with him right there. The amount of time for this depends purely on what your child needs. In the event that your child needs a substantial amount of time, there may be a separate classroom set up within the general education school where your child visits periodically in the day or perhaps attends for a chunk of time. There are special schools devoted to educating students with hearing loss – and your child may be best served in that environment. If the school is too far away, or the IEP team determines that in order for language development to grow, the child must be in a linguistically rich environment for a longer period of time, the child may partake in residential facilities in addition to the special day school. This final opportunity is also at the farthest end of the continuum.


As you can see, there are many, many ways that students can receive services – it is important to examine not only the direct services a student will benefit from, but also the peer group interactions that will follow. Think back to the algebra example:


Your child + technological support + classroom learning environment + social environment = success


There are a million other equations – ones that involve you, a peer group, language development, etc. The end goal is always the same …..success. Don’t be hesitant to change your variables, see what will yield the best results!!



Contact Della at


*The article Della is referring to (When was the last time your child’s IEP team took a good, long look at his/her communication needs? ) can be found in the February 2012 issue in our newsletter archives here


In This Issue:
  • Parents' Night Out
  • Upcoming Events
  • Buy some great coffee!
  • New Guide from the CDC for Constructing your IFSP
  • Editorial
  • New Listening and Spoken Language Skills Classroom at Christina Early Education Center
  • Continuum of Educational Options in Delaware by Della Thomas

Last Call!

Don't miss out on the fun at Parents' Night Out this Saturday 7-9 at the Millers' house in Newark.  Conversation, food, adult beverages, and rowdy card games will be provided.  Adults only, please.  For address and directions please register here or reply to this email with your name and the number of people coming.

Our next chapter meeting will be September 25 at 6PM at TLK Academy in Peoples Plaza, Glasgow.  Child care can be provided on request!  We have the complete meeting schedule for 2012 on our website.
Parents' Night Out August 4, 7-9pm.  register here
Parent Study
Sara LaBelle, Ph.D student at West Virginia University, is examining the communication between parents of children who have a hearing disability. If you are interested, please click here, read the full instructions, and complete a 15 minute online survey. **Couples with a deaf or hard of hearing child are particularly needed.
Saturday, Oct. 20 8am-10am Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebee's in Middletown to benefit our chapter. Tickets will be on sale soon.

Great Coffee for a Great Cause from The Good Java Company!

The Good Java Company in Lancaster, PA sells USDA Certified Organic Fair Trade Coffee.  It is a great product, and one you can feel good about.  

The coffee is available whole bean or ground in two delicious varieties: 100% Arabica Organic Colombian Coffee and 100% Arabica Organic Peruvian Coffee Swiss Water Process Decaffeinated.  


Delaware Families for Hands & Voices will receive $0.50 per 8 ounce bag our friends purchase.  In order for us to receive the donation, you must enter “Hands and Voices” in the sales code box at checkout.  


Thank you!

New Guide from the CDC for Constructing your IFSP

Making a Plan for Your Child: IFSP Considerations for your child who is Deaf/Hard of Hearing is now available on the CDC website. The guide helps with some of the unique communication considerations that should be addressed in an IFSP.


You can download a copy here at the CDC website.

Show us your Hands & Voices!
We want to hear from you.  That's right, you! We would love to print your article, event, or resource.
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Delaware Families for Hands and Voices
TLK, Peoples Plaza
Newark, Delaware 19708

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