An Interview with Lisa Kovacs from Hands and Voices

By Jeanette Blom

Hands & Voices, an advocacy group for parents of Deaf and hard of hearing children, recently launched their new Post-Secondary Transitions Online Module for Parents. The resource is targeted at parents of teenagers who are deaf or hard of hearing moving on to higher education or out into the workforce. As part of the resource, Hands & Voices have included elements from Ida’s Transitions Management platform to help parents understand what challenges their children should expect as they move on to the next phase in their lives.

Lisa Kovacs, Hands & Voices’ Director of Programs, answered a few questions for us about the Post-Secondary Transitions module and their goals for the resource.

Why was it important to launch this new resource?

Hands & Voices has become one of the leading organizations for supporting families within the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention systems of care focused on families very early in their journey of raising a child who is deaf or hard of hearing. We were excited to be asked  by Gallaudet University’s Technology Access Program through a grant under the “Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Improving the Accessibility, Usability, and Performance of Technology for Individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing” to design and develop a resource to support parents further along in their parenting journey.

Many parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing report post-secondary transition as a time that is difficult to navigate and understand. Hands & Voices chapters are led by parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing and many of our parent leaders also reported the time of transition to be difficult to navigate. Hands & Voices utilized information from a group of experienced parent leaders to share what they found to be most difficult about the transition process and what information they wish they would have had to inform and create the syllabus for the online module.

Who will benefit from this resource and how?

The Hands & Voices Post-Secondary Transition Online Learning Module is designed for parents and their transition-aged teens to complete together. There are applicable transition activities and tools that can support a teen through the transition process. These activities could also be utilized by educators and/or other service providers who may also be in a supporting role assisting teens who are deaf and hard of hearing with post-secondary transitions. The goals of the module is to provide an accessible resource for parents and their transition-aged teens that will support the their exploration of life after high school and enable both teens and parents to acquire knowledge and confidence that will help them understand post-secondary transition and prepare them for the transition process.

How does Ida’s Transitions Management platform fit into the overarching idea behind the new resource?

The U.S. Department of Education’s Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines the time of transition as the year the student turns 16. Hands & Voices recognizes that parents need to be familiar with and considering transition well before this time. The Ida Transitions Management platform targets self-determination skills in different ages and stages of a child’s journey starting at age three until the time the child becomes a young adult. Strong self-determination leads to competent self-advocacy skills, which will support students as they transition into either the workforce or post-secondary education. The Ida Transitions Management platform is a fantastic resource to share with families, and the targeted ages within the platform that fall within post-secondary transition are complimentary to the other resources included in the Hands & Voices module.