03 Dec 2015
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New website to help parents of deaf children

By Shannon Williams

A new website has launched designed to help parents of deaf children have access to resources.

The redesigned website, launched by the New Zealand Federation for Deaf Children, enables parents to easily connect with others throughout New Zealand for information and support, links to regional parent groups accessing specialists and other resources.

In New Zealand, approximately 170 deaf babies are born every year. The New Zealand Federation for Deaf Children provides parents with support, information and networking opportunities, as well as help for the children.

Kate Whale, president of the New Zealand Federation for Deaf Children, says they wanted to create a ‘one-stop shop’ to help with questions that many parents have when they first learn their child has hearing issues.

“When parents find out their child is deaf there is a period of rapid adjustment,” she says.

“Then comes the time when parents begin to seek information and understanding about the needs their child may have, and eventually, with the support and experiences of other families who have been down the same or a similar path, they realise that their child can and will do all the things they had hoped,” Whale explains.

Included on the website are a series of new videos, which were filmed at the national hui for parents held in April. The hui was attended by around 160 parents who have deaf and hard-of-hearing children aged under 5, along with 35 children and babies.

The presentations covered learning basic New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) and tips for engaging deaf children in stories, as well as tips to understanding an audiogram and getting the most out of auditory-verbal therapy. The videos are packed full of practical tips and strategies, and there are versions of the videos with captions, NZSL and transcripts available for viewing.

The national parent hui, and the video resources from it, are the first of their kind. Parents shared their experiences with the Ministry and each other, and heard from a range of experts.

“With strong family support deaf and hard of hearing kids can achieve anything they put their minds to,” she says. “It's the Federation's role to help those families in whatever way they need.”

Whale says the Federation would not have been able to develop the new website without support from the Ministry of Education.

Over the coming months the Federation will be continuing to refresh its resources and it welcomes ideas.

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