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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Ear & Throat Diseases, Health

Mission: Colorado Families for Hands & Voices is dedicated to supporting families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing without a bias around communication modes or methodology. We're a parent- driven, non-profit organization providing families with the resources, networks, and information they need to improve communication access and educational outcomes for their children. Our outreach activities, parent/professional collaboration, and advocacy efforts are focused on enabling Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing children to reach their highest potential.

Results: Along with two partner nonprofits, we co-authored the Seven Agreements for Closing the Gap in Colorado's Deaf Education. We are excited that we had so much support from parents, professionals, and organizations on this work. We will be releasing an updated Colorado Resource Guide for all parents of deaf/hard of hearing children in 2016. We updated the Parent Funding Toolkit in 2014 for funding and insurance appeal information for hearing aids and other equipment, and will be updating it in the fall. More than 300 families received personal parent to parent support through phone calls or home visits for their young children with hearing loss last year.

Target demographics: Serving families raising children with any kind of hearing loss from birth to age 21 in the state of Colorado, along with collaboration with the professionals who serve them.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 1200 families and professionals, with approximately 150 new family contacts each year.

Geographic areas served: Statewide in Colorado, with experienced parent mentors both statewide and regionally, including a Spanish speaking parent guide.

Programs: Guide By Your Side Program Advocacy Support and Training (ASTra Program) Parent to parent networking, resources, and support from experienced families who also have a child who is deaf or hard of hearing Informational support for professionals and school districts. OUR Children's Safety Project

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Allison66

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a teacher of the Deaf/hard of hearing in the Colorado Springs area, I love to introduce new parents in our area to Hands and Voices. I know this connection will inform them of all they need to know to make the right choices for their Deaf/hard of hearing child, allow them to network with other parents, and learn about what programs are available for their child. Sara Kennedy can be counted on to provide unbiased, professional and caring advice!

Comments ( 1 )

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Sara Kennedy 10/14/2016

Thank you for your very kind comments - always much appreciated from the community and within our relationships with like-minded professionals in Deaf Education especially. We will strive to keep living up to them!

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Individuals attempting to receive services from a government agency can sometimes become overwhelmed. As a government/ retired counselor for the Deaf, I have had the privilege of getting to know Colorado Hands and Voices and am amazed at their ability to change lives for the better. They have been present and supportive, as individuals transition from public school to employment. They are calm, organized, knowledgeable, and effective. This type of support is highly valued by the student, parents and government provider! They have the rare ability to communicate clearly and honestly, including the ability to share disappointment or unpopular information in a manner that elicits constructive responses. Colorado Hands and Voices have taken on the responsibility of understanding federal, state and local laws, policies, practices and regulations so that individuals do not have to take on this task themselves.
I have also had the privilege of working with Sara Kennedy on an exemplary team to improve the Deaf/Hard of Hearing student's ability to present his/her own transition IEP. Sara's ability to synthesize data and make logical recommendations has been exceptional.

Comments ( 1 )

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Sara Kennedy 10/13/2016

Thank you so much for this very positive feedback. This is exactly what we hope to do for families statewide.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

When I first found out that my daughter had a hearing loss over 11 years ago, Hands and Voices was there to help, support and guide us through what was a very difficult and scary time. They found many resources for us, answered all my questions, and in such a show of support, just simply let me talk out my fears and concerns since I didn't know anything about raising a child with a hearing loss . As my daughter started her school career, Hand and Voices was there many, many times to help me understand her IEP, often times attending the IEP meetings themselves when her school and I couldn't reach any agreement on the services needed for her. I absolutely believe that without their help, my daughter would not have the services she has now, nor would she be as successful as she is. Hands and Voices has been so incredibly instrumental in helping our family, I absolutely don't know what we would have done without them. I can never thank them enough for all their support!

Comments ( 1 )

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Sara Kennedy 08/15/2016

Thank you so much for this beautiful testimonial. That is exactly what we set out to do... be a guide when families need support along their journey raising a young adult who is deaf or hard of hearing. We so appreciate you!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands and Voices has been an incredible support along this journey parenting my Deaf/Hard of Hearing son. They have been a source of encouragement and resources. When my son transitioned from a private school to an out-of-district charter, Hands and Voices helped by providing contact information to individuals who could help defend his rights and keep him in the school. They provided a wealth of information to help me fight the discrimination and understand how parent choice works in schools in the state of Colorado. Not only that, but they were helpful in coming with me to my sons initial evaluation for an IEP and have provided support with any questions I have about his 504.

The connections and ideas I've gained through Hands and Voices have been invaluable. Ideas and resources that I had no idea existed, or no idea how to access have materialized. Amazing brainstorming and idea sourcing has helped me think outside the box to provide services and access to my son's education that I hadn't conceived of previously. I know that we would be where we are today with out Hands and Voices. I am incredibly grateful for the amazing work this group does.

Comments ( 1 )

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Sara Kennedy 08/12/2016

Thank you so much for this positive feedback! We couldn't do our work without terrific parents like you!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What would we do without the Colorado chapter of Hands & Voices?! This organization has been there for us as parents of a DHH child for over 10 years! Providing very valuable information on communication modes, strategies, technologies (all impartially) as well as connecting us with professionals and other families for support. Besides all of this, they have people who will respond to you when you feel you have no place else to turn!
Recently, we felt our daughter's needs were no longer being met by the mainstream center-based school in our home district, and asked for an IEP re-evaluation meeting to discuss placing her in another school. Our home district denied the meeting and stated we should place here there by choice. The new school we were interested in said the home district needed to have the IEP re-evaluation meeting, we were going in circles and needed to know what our rights were. Sara Kennedy responded to my request for help immediately with the exact information we needed, and soon (thanks to the information she directed me to) I had gotten our home district to set up the IEP meeting we needed. The suggestions Sara provided through Hands & Voices helped us to prepare for that meeting, especially when it came to helping our daughter advocate for herself and have valuable input on how her needs were NOT being met. The IEP meeting was intense, stressful, and difficult, but had it not been for the help from Hands & Voices we may have felt defeated. Instead, we knew what our options were and were not, and were prepared and empowered to make sure we were heard. Now, just a few months later, our daughter is thriving in a new school and doing better than we could have hoped.
I could not imagine navigating all the hurdles we have come across without the support of this amazing organization.
Thank you, Hands & Voices!

Comments ( 1 )

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Sara Kennedy 04/04/2016

Thank you so much for the update on your family's story. We so appreciate our parents and their hard work on behalf of kids!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands and Voices has been a wonderful way to hear from other parents with children that struggle with many of the same things our son does. Sara Kennedy has been particularly amazing in her knowledge, kindness and availability to help us with all kinds of issues surrounding raising a child with a hearing loss and other disabilities. She and her coworkers helped us with IEP paperwork, calmed me down in times of frustration with the school system, provided information on fun get togethers where I have met other parents to connect with and where our son has met new friends. I look forward to getting the online newsletter (which I quickly scan) and the newspaper which I try to read cover to cover as I get a few minutes here and there. There are several times I don't know who I would have turned to if not for Hands and Voices. I will forever be grateful for their organization.

Comments ( 1 )

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Sara Kennedy 04/04/2016

Thank you, Denise! We always appreciate your comments and questions on the newspaper and the e-news. Thank you for joining in to both educational information and social events!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands and Voices is a wealth of knowledge and has a wonderful support staff. They did not tell us what to do, but gave us the resources to decide what was best for our child. The parent advocates were professional and very helpful. IEP/504's are so important to the success of our children. They really helped us through the process. Thank you members for all of the work you do!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

When I was having problems with the school following the IEP, Hands & Voices came to the IEP meeting to help me navigate this confusing area. Often, you attend these meetings with your spouse and there are a whole table full of professionals who tell you what can be done. When a representative from Hands & Voices came to the meeting, we felt that we had an expert on our side.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

For over 12 years, I have felt completely and utterly alone while navigating my way through how to best serve my son who has unilateral hearing loss. That all changed when I got a phamplet from our audiologist about this fantastic organization. When I received a call from
Sara and a follow up email with all kinds of helpful information, I began to cry. My son is not alone. I am not alone. The things I ask for from his school are not absurd or far reaching. They are quite normal. The 'quirks' that my son has are related to his hearing impairment. I honestly saw a light at the end of a very dark tunnel that I had been in since moving to Colorado. So thank you to hands & voices and especially to Sara for giving me such a priceless gift.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As someone who works with children who have hearing loss I've watched this organization grow and become such an inclusive organization. I place the emphasis on "inclusive" because we have such a diverse population of children with different needs and CO H&V focuses on what each child needs without elevating any ideology and personal opinions. I am hard pressed to find any non-profit organization in the state of Colorado that matches CO H&V's inclusivity in this field. Parents will experience a sense of empowerment, a sense of confidence, and a sense of understanding in how to advocate for their children's needs.