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Deaf Mentor Program: Deaf Adult to Family Connection

Date Submitted: 04/2022

Contact Information:

Director of Family and Early Childhood Services

Petra Gatzemeyer



Oklahoma School for the Deaf, 1100, E. Oklahoma Ave., Sulphur, Oklahoma 73086

Rating Category: Innovative Idea


Focus Area: Child Development

Focus Population: Caregivers, Guardians, Parents, Siblings and other family members in the home

Goals and Outcomes: To increase visual language skills of young deaf children and their families.

Establish meaningful relationships between families and Deaf adult role models across the state of Oklahoma. To increase knowledge on the perspective of a deaf or hard of hearing person.

Provide positive role models for deaf children and families.

Brief Summary:

The positive impact that Deaf adults can have on the lives of deaf children and their family members is incalculable. They have the unique ability to express the child’s needs and desires when no one else seems to understand. Also, as deaf children interact with Deaf adults, they are able to “witness the capabilities of Deaf people from diverse backgrounds succeeding in relationships, education, work, and beyond. This may be even more important for some deaf children than the adult simply being deaf.

Our innovative idea is to establish a Deaf Adult to Family Connection Program in the state of Oklahoma. A Deaf adult will provide instruction in the child’s natural environment through engagement with the family and early education curriculum. This program will focus on developing American Sign Language, visual communication skills, and bridging the gap between the Deaf and hearing world for families who have deaf children birth to age 5. Families will be able to see the success that comes from building a strong language foundation, learn visual reading strategies, and develop a positive perspective of what it means to grow up as a Deaf person. Through these interactions children will gain visual language, literacy skills, and positive Deaf identity.

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