Monday, March 19, 2007
AG Bell Retreat At Local School
On Friday, I headed out to Child's Voice after a Deaf Mentor session in the morning. This was the first time I had joined an AG Bell event. The retreat was for deaf and hard of hearing adults.
The morning session consisted of observing a child in a one-on-one session with a teacher. We then gathered in the main gym and had an "Advocacy" session with about twenty deaf and hard of hearing children from kindergarten to first grade. Many of the children had one or two cochlear implants and several of them had hearing aids. A teacher lead the discussion and began with questions about ways the children and adults could advocate when communication breaks down. The kids eagerly raised their hands to answer questions and share their advocacy tips. The teacher repeated or summarized each answer. I found that it was quite a feat to make sure that I could understand everyone and I had to get up and move around to make sure that I had access to the conversations. At one point, I missed an answer to a question and made sure that I demonstrated my own advocacy skills to get it repeated.
After a delicious lunch, the adults met with the parents from Child's Voice and four deaf adults shared their experiences during a panel discussion. One was a lawyer from San Diego, a student in a business college, a doctoral student in Audiology and a school psychologist from Indiana School for the Deaf. We all sat in a circle and everything was captioned on a large screen. I was grateful for the captioning because I was able to lip read the deaf participants and then glance at the screen for anything that was missed.
On the drive home, I was thinking about a comment that one of the panelists shared. She mentioned that her parents attended every AG Bell convention since she was a little girl. It was during these conventions that she met other deaf and hard of hearing people and realized, "I am not alone, there are other people out there who are just like me."
I thought it was the most important message of the day.