We Are Hands & Voices

By Leeanne Seaver

If your baby was deaf or hard of hearing, what kind of future could await her?   Painting with the broad brush of national statistics, here is a picture of educational and social achievement for the average high school graduate who is deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Grade levels at 3.9 for reading comprehension, 5.0 for math problem-solving, 4.5 for language, and 6.0 for spelling, (based on SAT test scores; norm samples. Bloomquist Traxler, 2000).

  • Between the ages of 8 and 18, deaf and hard of hearing children gain 1.5 years in reading skills. (Gallaudet University 1991-92).  

  • Thirty percent of all deaf and hard of hearing children leave school functionally illiterate. (Conrad, 1974).

  • Fifty seven percent exhibit academic deficits and 60% are unprepared for college. ( U.S.Commission Report , 1988).

  • Only eight percent of deaf and hard of hearing students graduate from college. ( U.S.Commission Report , 1988).

  • Approximately one third of all deaf adults rely on some form of governmental assistance, and the average income of deaf adults is 40-60% of their hearing counterparts. (Siegel, 2000).

  • Approximately 40% of deaf adults are unemployed and 90% are underemployed. (Siegel, 2000).

  • In Colorado , students who are deaf and hard of hearing were an average of three years academically behind their hearing peers. (Johnson, 2000).

Statistics like these might make you think that the antiquated term "deaf and dumb" refers to a physiological connection between hearing loss and stupidity.  However, quite the opposite is true - deafness or hearing loss does not impair cognition (thinking), and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing have the same potential for academic and social achievement as do people with normal hearing.  So why aren't they making the grade?  If your child was deaf or hard of hearing, you wouldn't accept those numbers, and neither do we.

We are Hands & Voices, a parent-driven non-profit organization comprised of families and professionals who are working together to change those statistics.  Our mission is to provide support to families without a bias towards communication modes or methods. Instead, we help empower both parents and professionals to become effective advocates for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  We provide information, a cutting-edge quarterly newspaper, website, technical assistance, parent-to-parent networks, and much more.  We are driven to create better educational and social outcomes and an enhanced quality of life for our children.  Our goal is the same as any parent's...raising a well adjusted, successful kid. Please take a moment today to update your membership.  On behalf of our children, the students we teach, and the families we serve, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your financial support to help this important cause.

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