The story of California Hands & Voices (CA-H&V) is analogous to a relay team. A relay team consisting of two groups of parents and professions wanting to support families in respectful & non-judgmental manner in order to improve the outcomes for those families’ children. That motivation was aligned with the mission of Hands & Voices and it was that motivation which sparked the formation of a state chapter.
Back in December of 2009, on a typical sunny California day, the initial group met and after much discussion and planning, concluded there was a place for a state chapter of Hands & Voices.
The typical strategic initiatives of a state chapter are 5-fold: Early Intervention related, Building Social Networks, Education, Advocacy, and Legislation. It was agreed by all that those initiatives would naturally be beneficial to California families and their children.
All agreed that the legislative initiatives would be approached with caution as legislation has been an historical point of contention in California, the aim of our cautious approach was to not add to that state history and instead only help pursue legislation that was considered beneficial by a consensus of stakeholders in the state. We want to connect with all stakeholders.
The initial group rolled up its collective sleeves and worked hard to provide local family friendly events, educational workshops, while also processing the formal requirements of establishing a state chapter.
After a couple of years, the second and fresh group in the relay team took up the baton. They rallied around the effort to adopt & continue the California DHH Family Camp per the wishes of the founders Melanie Doyle and Linda Dye. The camp wonderfully served of our strategic initiatives and we saw it as an important resource and benefit for our families and their children. This effort focused our energies in completing all the aspects of the state chapter process.
On March 11, 2013 We got our 501c3 Status granted by the IRS. We officially had a non-profit organization designation and a short time later we achieved full chapter status from Hands & Voices Headquarters.
In the time since then we have grown. We now have three camps: Southern California (the original), Northern California, and the Inland Empire. Because California is a huge state geographically, we have it organized into nine regions to better facilitate successful local events. Overall, we have had many diverse local and statewide events for our families and children. We’re very active in social media.
With help by partnering with organizations and agencies with similar goals, as well as family members and Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults and professionals we are certain we can improve the outcomes of our children, and make California a role model state on how it's done.
California Hands & Voices is dedicated to supporting families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in a respectful and non-judgmental manner regarding language opportunities, communication tools or educational approaches. We’re a parent-driven, non-profit organization providing families with the resources, networks, and information to improve communication access and educational outcomes for their children. Our outreach activities, parent/professional collaboration, and advocacy efforts are focused on enabling children who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing to reach their highest potential.
California Hands & Voices will be the standard for respectful and non-judgmental empowerment of families to support their children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing to reach their fullest potential.
The Mission of Hands & Voices (American Sign Language)
by Karen Putz, Co-Director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Infusion, Hands & Voices
The California Hands & Voices mission is aligned with the Hands & Voices mission (below) but it's not word for word identical.