3 Things You Missed from Georgia Hands & Voices’ Back to School Bash

So you were a little bogged down with the back to school chaos that ensues every year at about this time, and you couldn’t make it to GA Hands & Voice’s event?

No problem.

We checked in with their Executive Director, Terri Patterson for an inside scoop of what we missed…

Georgia Hands & Voices 5th Annual Back to School BASH


With over 70 families and professionals (deaf educators, administrators, interpreters, SLPs, Audiologists, students in higher education, GA Pines Parent Advisors to name a few) in attendance, 19 exhibitors, 8 teen panelists, 7 session presenters, 3 sponsors and one very dynamic guest speaker: we believe the Georgia Hands & Voices 5th Annual Back to School BASH at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf on August 17 was a great success. 



We were honored to have Mr. Ken Levinson who crossed the country to come and talk about why and how teenagers develop positive, healthy self-esteem. Mr. Levinson is the Co-Founder and Lead Counselor of the AG Bell Association’s Leadership Opportunities for Teens (LOFT) Program. Mr. Levinson focused his talk on building healthy self-esteem in children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, regardless of their communication modes or methods.   “I AM GREAT” spoke to the different characteristics that are vital to developing confidence and positive self-esteem in ALL teenagers and took it further to address the unique needs of teens who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.  He emphasized the necessity of allowing kids to develop independence by experiencing everything and taking chances, making mistakes and learning from them. Also, he also shared the importance of teens in developing a positive attitude and a behavior of respect. Teens need to get involved in groups that help develop stronger bonds; find good role models, particularly those that are D/HH; set expectations high and learn to laugh at themselves.


Teen Panel 1

We were also lucky enough to have him facilitate our teen panel which closed the day down providing great wisdom and enlightenment.  Mr. Levinson’s humor and honesty really drew out the panelists, who ranged from “almost” 13 through 19 years of age.  They represented diverse cultural backgrounds, academic settings, communication choices and personality characteristics, while finding quite a bit of common ground and experiences. It was really thrilling to see them become so animated up on the stage and express themselves with such honesty, especially after sharing how nervous they were in the beginning.  From one 14 year old boy sharing the story of losing his implant off of a rollercoaster (of course, the Executive Director’s son) to a 15 year old sharing the benefits of sign language “because you can communicate with a mouth full of food,” they let their personalities shine.  They talked about wanting to go to college, wanting to become a teacher, wanting to develop their skills in mechanics.  Mr. Levinson continually emphasized that our children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing can be ANYTHING they want to be and the importance of having positive Deaf and Hard of Hearing role models.  This was echoed by our audience during their questions and comments for the panelists. I think this group is well on their way to doing just that!

Along with these empowering presentations to our larger group, we also had 5 breakout sessions during the day.  We covered topics ranging from “Intro to ASL” presented by a couple, Karmon, who works with the Georgia Parent Infant Network for Educational Services program (GA PINES) and Michael Cain, an American Sign Language Instructor at Georgia Perimeter College, who are both Deaf; to “Transition to What? What Happens After High School” by Becky Sills, a Director of VR Services. To add to the mix, G.R.E.A.T.D.A.Y. Inc. who provides mental health resources for the Deaf community presented; our Board President, Carianne Muse, who is also a member of the Joint Commission on Infant Hearing (JCIH), presented “What Should You Expect from Early Intervention Services” addressing the recently published set of JCIH recommendations on Early Intervention Services and how they relates to the current services provided in our state. Our final session choice, “Your Child’s Journey Towards Graduation: What You Need to Know,” was presented by Dr. Kenney Moore, the Director of the Division of State Schools and Dr. Frank Nesbit, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Consultant for the Department of Education.  The brain trust at this event was unbeatable!

Teen Panel 2


So, while our wonderful volunteers from the Georgia Perimeter College Sign Language Interpreter Training Program, GA PINES and the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf provided a safe, fun and accessible environment for our children and the Georgia Sensory Assistance Project put on a Sib Shop for the 7-9 year old hearing siblings, the teens and adults were filled with knowledge and had an opportunity to connect as a community.  Add in the exhibitor break time, and some lunch and it made for a full, satisfying day.



A few of the comments on the evaluations of the event: “Incredibly brave, bright, insightful young people!” “It was needed and nice to socialize with other parents.”  “Super fun!!!” “They were able to answer a lot of questions.”


We are grateful for the sponsorship provided by Georgia Relay, Active Life Hearing Loops and Cochlear Americas.  We also had a large diverse group of exhibitors at our event:

  • Advanced Bionics, AASD, AASD Accessible Materials Project, Auditory-Verbal Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, GA Bell, GACHI/Georgia Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Program, GA PINES, Georgia Peach Cochlear Implant Association, Georgia Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Georgia School for the Deaf, Georgia Sensory Assistance Project, Med-El, Oticon and G.R.E.A.T.D.A.Y, Inc.

I am grateful to all of the families in Georgia that feel as passionate as I do about ensuring our children get what they need when they need it to be successful, and continually reinforce why Hands & Voices is a valuable organization and community in our state.


So, as we move forward with the 2013-14 school year, ensuring that our families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing children have the resources, the connections and the tools they need to empower their children to be successful, academically, socially and personally, in order to reach their full potential, so that they grow up to become who and whatever they dream and aspire to be.  Be watching for more info on our next event: “The Unique Communication Considerations for Your Child’s IEP/IFSP: What You Need to Know!” on October 5, 2013 at the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf from 8:30am to 1:00pm.  For more info and to RSVP please send an email to rsvp@gahandsandvoices.org or info@gahandsandvoices.org.  Check out our website, www.gahandsandvoices.org .

Hands and Voices IFSP IEP Event

To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language & Literacy and our goal for the year 2020, please visit our website at www.georgialiteracy.org or email us at gapathway@gmail.com.

Deaf International Festival at UGA: Connect with Your Community

Deaf International Festival Flyer

If you combine




Fesita Ultimate Nachos










the Deaf community …

you get the 2013 Georgia Deaf International Festival!

With the kids out of school, you’ll want something fun to do come July 20.

Trust me.

And the proceeds go to a good cause – The Georgia Association for the Deaf!

Can’t beat that.

Hope to see you there!

From Education to Educator: Tim’s Story

Tim Albert

We sat down with Tim Albert, an active and important member of Georgia’s Deaf community and member of our Executive Committee, who graciously shared his story with us. We thought his journey was a great one to share with the Pathway community. It’s one of success but, like many of us, marked by an unrealized dream and unexpected twists and turns. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into Mr. Albert’s work life serving D/HH children throughout the state of Georgia!

What do you do for a living?

Currently, I am the Student Life Coordinator on the GSD Campus.
Tell me about how you got into your line of work.

After obtaining a Master’s degree from Gallaudet University in 2004, I received an email from one of GSD’s staff members saying that there was a social work position opening at GSD. I was set up to come to GSD for a job interview. I drove to Cave Spring from College Park, Maryland. It was my first time visiting GSD’s campus. I was nervous when I met with GSD’s Interview Committee Team; however, I did my best to answer all interview questions. When I got back to Maryland, I checked my email and received good news that I got the job! I moved to Georgia in 2005. Four years later in 2009, I applied for the Student Life Coordinator position and got the job.

Do you like your job?

Yes. It’s challenging and rewarding.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

I wanted to become a truck driver because my late uncle taught me and my little brother how to drive a truck. I love the feeling and thought of being high off the road and traveling all over the USA. Unfortunately, due to my deafness, I had to go with my second career choice. That was my big dream. Good news- I heard that all states in America have allowed deaf and hard of hearing persons can drive trucks (http://www.nad.org/news/2013/2/dot-recognizes-deaf-and-hard-hearing-truck-drivers)!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

At first, I thought that I wanted to work as a computer operator but it was such a boring job!  It was hard for me to think of what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was not until my early college years that I felt drawn to the Social Work field. It definitely is the ideal career for me!

What lessons has your work life taught you?

There are so many lessons I have learned though my years as Student Life Coordinator. To name a few important lessons; helping resolve conflicts between staff members and between staff members and students (very challenging at times), learning to be more diplomatic, role-modeling desired communication/interpersonal skills and being open, flexible and prepared for the unexpected.

If you could do anything now, what would you do? Why?

I would love to drive a truck.

Do you plan on retiring? If so, when? How do you feel about it?

Not yet, too young- smile!

Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

I never forgot about a former female student who did not like the new dorm rules. The female student and I didn’t see eye to eye on things, but I continued to work closely with her because I could see so much potential in this student. She has the drive and the intelligence to be successful like me but needed a great deal of support and encouragement. I liked challenging her. One day, she approached me and told me that she kicked my new car because she did not like me. I asked her to show me where she kicked my car.  She pointed at a blue car.  I told her that car was not mine. I laughed and she felt embarrassed. She then ended up laughing and knew she was going to get in trouble with the person who owned the “injured” blue car.

Thank you, Tim, for your openness and willingness to share your story! We appreciate all you do for GSD and Georgia Pathway!

To learn more about Georgia Pathway to Language and Literacy, please visit our website at www.georgialiteracy.org or email us at gapathway@gmail.com.

“I’m the next spokesperson for hooked on phonics”


Sean Forbes is a Deaf rapper.

The best and only Deaf rapper I know.

He certainly exemplifies everything we are fighting for at Georgia Pathway –

using language to reach one’s fullest potential.

Check out his video (with closed captions).

Let us know what you think!