The Ascent Program offers an opportunity for families of young deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind (DHHDB) children to connect with DHHDB adults. This is especially meaningful as most infants and toddlers who are DHHDB are the only DHHDB person in the family. The Ascent Program gives families an opportunity to interact with DHHDB adults. The goal of this program is for DHHDB adults to share their positive perspectives as well as their lived experiences of being deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind. These experiences might include, but are not limited to:
- Experiences growing up as a DHHDB person
- Educational experiences
- Work/Career experiences
- Experiences communicating with others
- Perspectives on advocacy
- Support and guidance accessing resources
- Development of a healthy DHHDB identity
Connecting with a DHHDB adult can support family members as they look to their child’s future and imagine possibilities. Parents and caregivers often have questions that can be best answered by DHHDB adults who have lived with the experience of being deaf or hard of hearing. While some parents may naturally focus on what is “missing” or what their child is unable to do, due to the impact of being deaf, hard of hearing, or deafblind, DHHDB adults can offer a positive perspective and optimism, as they build relationships with families. DHHDB adults can provide support to parents and caregivers as they bond with their DHHDB child.
The DHHDB adults in the Ascent Program are knowledgeable about the continuum of communication and language opportunities that DHHDB children are able to access and utilize. They receive training and education on current trends and best practices in the field so that they may appropriately respond to any family questions and/or concerns, provide support, and create learning opportunities. While DHHDB adults may be asked to discuss their own communication and language experiences, a value held by the Ascent Program is to respect the choices and decisions made by each family. The role of the deaf or hard of hearing adult is to provide information and support tailored to each family’s needs.
- Access: Families can obtain the information they want and learn from a DHHDB adult’s experiences. Parents can obtain resources, connections in their community, and information about language and communication.
- Community: Families can develop a sense of fellowship with a DHHDB adult with common interests.
- Empowerment: DHHDB adults can support families as they become more confident in the decisions they make.
- Inclusivity & Diversity: The program is fully inclusive of all families and DHHDB adults participating in the program. Each family’s uniqueness is celebrated.
- Informed Decision-Making: Families obtain the information, resources, and experiences they need to make decisions that are best for their family and their child who is deaf or hard of hearing.
- Relationships: DHHDB adults and family members develop a sense of connecting, belonging, and learning from each other as family members navigate their journey.
The Ascent Program connects deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind adults of diverse backgrounds and experiences with families to build relationships, share resources and develop a support system to empower families of infants and toddlers who are DHHDB as they make informed decisions to positively envision their child’s future.
Deaf, hard of hearing, and deafblind adults guiding families to envision all possibilities for their young children.