The Deaf Mentor Program is designed to . . .
• increase the family's ability to successfully communicate with their deaf child through sign language.
• provide parents with opportunities to identify their child's subtle communication attempts and to evaluate their child's strengths in communicating.
• increase parent's appreciation for and understanding of American Sign Language (ASL), Deaf Culture, and the Deaf Community.
• support the child's development of language, communication, and self-identity through use of American Sign Language and the ability to interact with a Deaf adult role model.
The Deaf Mentor Program will provide a Deaf Mentor to any family with a infant or child who is deaf or hard of hearing between birth and 6 years of age. Deaf Mentors will establish regular weekly visits with the family. These visits will occur in the family's home and/or community. The Deaf Mentor will:
• teach the family sign vocabulary and principles of American Sign Language
• model interactions with the child using ASL and demonstrate communication techniques
• share aspects of Deaf culture and information about events in the Deaf Community
Who is eligible for the Deaf Mentor Program?
Families are eligible for this unique program if . . .
• their child is deaf or hard of hearing, ages birth up to 6 years of age.
• their child will be using sign language as a way to communicate.
Who are the Deaf Mentors?
Deaf Mentors are specially trained Deaf adults who are fluent in American Sign Language and participate in Deaf Community events. Deaf Mentors have been selected for their ability to work with families of young deaf children and for their flexibility in understanding the variety of educational and communication options available to deaf children.
How does the Deaf Mentor Program increase the family’s ability to communicate with their deaf child?
The Deaf Mentor Program increases the family’s ability to communicate with their deaf child by teaching visual communication skills and American Sign Language to the entire family in their home setting. Visual communication skills include the use of body language, facial expressions, and gestures.
Deaf mentors practice techniques for reading stories and playing with children in a natural setting and pace. American Sign Language is taught through both formal lessons and natural interaction. The Deaf Mentor Program promotes development of both ASL and English (called a bilingual-bicultural approach).
What is American Sign Language?
American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual-gestural language that is recognized as a true and complete language. The development of ASL can support the development of English skills for deaf children by providing them with a strong foundation in language and frequent and early opportunities for rich and in-depth communication.
What is Deaf Culture and the Deaf Community?
Deaf Culture includes the language (ASL), values, behaviors and traditions of people who are deaf. This group of people is referred to as the “Deaf Community.” Deaf community members look at deafness as a cultural difference, rather than a disability.
It takes a village . . .
The Deaf Mentor is one member of a team of professionals serving families. The Deaf mentor works with families and their child's educational team (Birth to 3 Program or school district). This team may include the child's teachers, therapists, and/or other professionals. The perspectives and information shared by the Deaf Mentor, along with the rest of the team, can assist the family in making educated decisions and set goals regarding the communication and educational needs of their child. The Deaf mentor can participate in the child's IFSP or IEP meeting and can coordinate their mentoring with the activities of other professionals working with the child (including the support of ongoing school curriculum).
Deaf Mentor services are most effective when Birth to 3 program staff / school district staff and the Deaf Mentor work together, providing information and expertise to one another regarding the needs and development of the child and his/her family.
How can we help support collaboration?
For Birth to 3 Programs:
Once a referral, documentation, family information and release of information are received, the DMP coordinator will contact the service coordinator regarding setting up an IFSP meeting to initiate services and the development of a contractual agreement for the county co-pay. After services are written into the IFSP, the Deaf Mentor will set up a schedule of visits.
WESP-DHH Outreach will arrange and pay for interpreting services for the initial IFSP meeting with the family, mentor, DMP coordinator and Birth to 3 program staff. Deaf Mentor services are most effective when Birth to 3 program staff and the Deaf Mentor work together, providing information and expertise to one another regarding the needs and development of the child and his/her family.
For School Districts:
Once a referral, documentation and family information are received, the DMP coordinator will contact the person who made the referral to set up a meeting to initiate services. While educational team members are not required to attend this meeting, collaboration between school districts and the Deaf Mentor is encouraged. Please note your willingness to attend this meeting on the referral form. WESP-DHH Outreach will arrange and pay for interpreting services for an initial meeting if an educational team member is in attendance. This meeting will also involve the family, mentor and DMP coordinator.
Is there a cost for the Deaf Mentor Program?
Birth to 3 Programs - are responsible for a $20 co-pay for Deaf Mentor services. Visits generally occur once weekly, for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
School Districts - A co-pay is not required for school districts.
Click here to download the Deaf Mentor Program brochure.
For more information, contact Bonnie Eldred, Program Coordinator.