Observe, Understand & Respond:
the O.U.R. Children's
Safety Project


- Video Introduction to O.U.R.-

NEW! Parent Safety Toolkit

We at Hands & Voices wanted to share the news that parents and professionals can help our growing kids be safe in the world. This Parent Safety Toolkit shares resources to help parents, kids, and the community to understand specific skills, knowledge and practices that can keep our kids safe and independent.

[ Download the OUR Parent Safety Toolkit ]

Document Cover

Watch this short interview about the Parent Safety Toolkit

(captioned in English and Spanish)


We don't like to think about it, but our kids who are deaf or hard of hearing are at a higher risk for both abuse and neglect. Like any children, they are at risk.  As children who might not always be able to communicate easily and fluently, or understand the nuances of conversation with neighbors, caregivers, or strangers, they are at an even higher risk of being victims of someone, somewhere... 

If we can stop that cycle with even one child, one family... our efforts are more than worthwhile. 

Our Network Expands! Click for more info...

Hands & Voices is working closely with researcher Harold Johnson, formerly at Michigan State University, to understand the scope of this problem, partner with supporting agencies (who often need to learn more about deafness), and teach ourselves how best to Observe, Understand, and Respond to our children. To keep them safe. To keep them free to grow up in the innocence of childhood.

We are challenging one another to spread the word about this important topic.  Parent Guides from CO Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side are participating in a pilot project, keeping logs of the questions that arise, and sharing thoughts as they learn more about this topic.

There’s a lot more that we can be doing beyond wringing our hands in frustration.  Below are resources that will be useful to parents in developing skills that will prepare us to share effectively with their own children. But don’t just stop at your own child or student, here are some things that you can do to help others be prepared:

Fostering Joy

Find out more about the Hands & Voices Fostering Joy project that helps support the efforts of the O.U.R. Project




Articles on O.U.R from the
Hands & Voices Communicator


Keeping Our Students Safe at School:The H&V Safety Attachment

February 2024

The Hands & Voices Safety Attachment is a tool families can use for meaningful conversations with their IEP team to develop strategies to ensure the safety and well-being of DHH students in education.

Bonding During 1-3-6

January 2024

In this session Hannah Lumby, a parent from England, shares what she experienced in the months after she found out that her newborn had hearing loss and the impact on bonding during the 1-3-6 timelines of EHDI.

Insights from CASA

March 2023

Learn from a pediatric audiologist about her efforts to improve child safety through her volunteer work with CASA and others, ongoing education in her clinic practice, and through her lived experience as a person with a hearing difference.

Investing in Parent Safety Strategies as an Organization

February 2023

Learn how one international coalition of parent groups from around the world tackled this topic in their work together.

Attachment and Safety

January 2023

A Discussion led by Debbie Mood, Ph.D. is a psychologist with the Developmental Pediatrics
Unit of Children's Hospital Colorado.

Wisdom Among Us: Cybersecurity

June 2022

A Facilitated Discussion led by Sara Kennedy and Janet DesGeorges


Hot Topics: Summer Safety

May 2022

Facilitator: Sara Kennedy

Presenter:  Irene van der Zande from Kidpower International

Safety through Storytime

March 2022

Facilitator: Chresta Brinkman

Presenter: Julia Luciana-Burns (Brighter World Child Advocacy Center)

webinar 3-8-22


Look at Foster-Adoption through a Safety Lens

December 2021

Facilitator: Sara Kennedy

Presenters: Robbi Crockett (TX H&V); Lisa Spencer (WA); Elizabeth Desloge (CA H&V)



Parent-Friendly Guide to Research: O.U.R. Children Project

November 2021

Presenter: Harold Johnson

Download a PDF of the PowerPoint Presentation


Top 12 Things I Wish Parents of Deaf/HH Kids Knew about the Criminal Justice System and Federal Civil Rights Laws Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Disability

March 9th, 2021

Presenter:  Marc Dubin


Expanding Our Impact Through Collaborations

Using your knowledge of children’s safety to influence change

Feb. 9, 2021

Facilitator:  Janet DesGeorges


OUR Children Project:
Birth-3 Safety | Washington Hands & Voices Webinar

This webinar is a part of the OUR (observe, understand, respond) Children Project. Presenters Harold A. Johnson, Christine Griffin, and Sara Kennedy outline strategies to ensure personal safety for young children who are Deaf and hard of hearing. This webinar is provided by Washington Hands & Voices www.wahandsandvoices.org

Feb 13, 2020
Presenters:  Dr. Harold Johnson, Christine Griffin & Sara Kennedy

Watch on Youtube: https://youtu.be/RjO2tZ0E7Ro  

Enhancing Safety & Expanding Independence for 6-11 year-olds

This O.U.R. Project webinar for the California Chapter focused on teaching people safety skills and understanding development in 6-11 year olds with presenters Dr. Harold Johnson and Sara Kennedy.

CA Hands & Voices 8-2019 - pdf

Infant Mental Health – An Overview

This session will help viewers understand the definition of Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health (I-ECMH); Learn about the development of early social-emotional skills; Recognize how awareness of early, healthy social-emotional development can be the foundation for strong self-assured children/adults.


Doing Right by OUR Kids! 

Protecting young people who are deaf or hard of hearing from abuse, bullying, and other harm.


Audio Recordings/Transcripts of Previous O.U.R. Special Guest Speakers/Presentations

Deaf Children, ACEs, and the School to Prison Pipeline: Problems and Solutions

January 9, 2018
Presenter:   Dr. Gabriel Lomas

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript

The Radical Middle: How Professionals in Deaf Education are  Making a Commitment to Working Better, Together

November 14 2017
Presenter:   Michella Maiorana-Basas, Ph.D.

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript

Summer Safety for Hands & Voices Families

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Presenter: Irene van der Zande

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript

Personal Reflections from a Mom:  A Story of Love

April 11 , 2017
Shannon Elam, AuD, CCC-A

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript


Promoting the Health and Safety of Young Children with Special Needs

March 14 , 2017
E. Paula Crowley, Ph.D

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript

They won’t remember”: Myths about child, abuse, neglect and very young children

February 14 , 2017
Catherine Corr, PhD.

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript


Knowing Your Child/Student Understands Their Rights and knows When to Say No!

January 10th
Caroline Guardino, Ph.D.

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript

“Turning Victims into Survivors: One Former Teacher of the Deaf Tells Her Story”

February 13, 2018
Presenter: Karen L. Kritzer, Ph.D.

Click the play button below to listen to audio

Link to transcript

“Why Do I Need to be Trauma-Informed?

March 13, 2018

Presenter: M. Elizabeth Ralston, Ph.D.

Link to transcript

“Three Steps to a Stronger O.U.R. Project : With Examples from Michigan and other Chapters “

April 10, 2018

Presenters: The O.U.R. Project team, HQ Staff and our community of learners

Link to transcript Only

---Follow up to March 13 Discussion “Protecting our Children: Before and After Potentially Traumatic Events”

May 8, 2018

Presenter: M. Elizabeth Ralston, Ph.D.

Link to transcript