Our Hands & Voices board meetings are open to the public with sign language interpreting provided. Meetings are bi-monthly held in the Seattle area with remote video conference access available for those living out of the area.
If you would like to attend one of our board meetings or are interested in becoming a committee or board member please email our board of directors at email@example.com.
Summer, her husband Shane and their 5 year old son, Jaxson reside in Burien, WA. Jaxson is an incredible little boy that keeps mom and dad very busy. Jaxson is Deaf plus, as he also has mild Cerebral Palsy, Speech Dyspraxia and some other challenges. Jaxson was fitted with hearing aids at 5 months old and the family started Early Intervention services right away. After much research and consideration, Jaxson received bi-lateral Cochlear Implants at age 1. The family chose Listening & Spoken Language, along with Signing Exact English as their communication modality. She is highly involved in her son’s school and his ongoing weekly therapies.
Summer joins the WA Hands & Voices board because she is passionate about connecting with families, sharing resources, providing education – helping ensure all children have access to appropriate education and socialization regardless of communication modality. Summer is currently the Vice President of Community Engagement at Easterseals Washington. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Political Science with a minor in Social Sciences from the University of Washington. Summer enjoys spending as much time as possible with her husband, young son, and Jack Russell Terrier.
Laura Coen is a new member to WA Hands & Voices and also newly elected Treasurer. When their newborn daughter, Avery, failed her hearing screen it began an unexpected journey for her and her husband. Avery was fitted with hearing aids at three months of age and the family started Early Intervention services. After much consideration the family chose Listening and Spoken Language as the communication mode for Avery and worked with Listen and Talk over the next three years. They used the assistance of a Guide by Your Side Parent Guide during the transition from Early Intervention to preschool services through the school district. Laura highly values the connections she has made during their family's journey and wants to encourage other families to connect with each other to support and advocate for our children. Hands & Voices supports this vision and why Laura is excited to be a member of the board and increase awareness of this organization.
Nick is the proud father of a deaf, vibrant, caring, and joyful little boy. A former project manager-turned-brewer, Nick was happy to become a stay-at-home dad after he and his wife adopted their son. Nick and Joanna quickly realized there was much to learn about deafness, a wide array of communication methods, as well as all the services and community offered to parents of deaf children. Initially supported by the Family Conversations program through Seattle Children’s Hospital and now Northwest School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children where his son attends preschool, Nick and his family use simultaneous spoken and Signing Exact English to support their son’s language development and look forward to learning ASL and Mandarin together!
The Patten family is always eager to meet other families of deaf children as well as deaf adults and to become more involved in the large and vibrant deaf community in Puget Sound. In their free time, the Pattens love to explore the wonderful forests and mountains of western Washington.
Laura Gramer and her husband, Brendan, transplants from Chicago, reside in north Seattle. They are deaf parents to two deaf sons. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. Laura is currently a busy stay at home mother who volunteers in WA Hands & Voices as a secretary and a commissioner on the Seattle Commission for People with Disabilities. She joined WA Hands & Voices to meet other parents with children who are deaf/HH/CI for social events and advocacy to make sure our children have access to education and socialization with peers regardless of their communication methods.
GBYS Program Coordinator
Christine Griffin is the parent of two incredible Deaf and hard of hearing kids. Christine has worked supporting parents of children with developmental disabilities, delays and ongoing health care needs for over ten years. She began her work as a parent volunteer with Parent to Parent of Whatcom County and later became the program's coordinator. In 2010 Christine added the role of program coordinator with the Guide By Your Side program. Christine's family story, “Standing Up for Our Children”, was published in Gallaudet University's Odyssey Magazine (2013). As part of her work, Christine trains others and has presented both locally and nationaly to family members and professionals. A skilled speaker, Christine continues to share the values of parent support. Her philosophy when working with parents is to share information and provide support that is relevant to a family’s needs, guiding them to become involved advocates for their children. Christine recently earned her Masters degree in Adult Education with an emphasis in parent/family engagement from Western Washington University. In her free time Christine enjoys being near the water, taking photographs, or walks in nature.
Kris Rydecki Ching
Kris Rydecki Ching is the Outreach Director, birth-to-5, for Washington State Center for Childhood Deafness & Hearing Loss (CDHL). She has a master's degree in Deaf Education from San Francisco State University and recently graduated from Gallaudet University Infants, Toddlers and Families Collaboration & Leadership Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate program. She is involved in cooperative efforts to strengthen statewide systems to ensure all families receive balanced information and have access to specialized services, regardless of where they live. Kris has served as a board member for Washington State Hands & Voices for over 8 years, and fully supports Hands & Voices open mindedness about communication modalities and believes in their motto, “What works for your child is what makes the choice right.”
Kim Hamren is the Parent Infant Coordinator and Early Interventionist at Listen and Talk in Seattle. Over the years Kim has served as a preschool teacher, LSLS, Cert. Auditory Verbal Therapist, preschool coordinator and presenter at various national conferences. She received her Teacher of the Deaf certification and her B.S. in Education from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her certification as a LSLS Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist.
Maura St. Jacques
Maura Berndsen has lived in the Pacific NW for almost 18 years, enjoying the diversity of the Seattle area and the different activities available in this amazingly beautiful region of the country. She is married and the mother of an energetic (hearing) 4th grader. Maura is also the Educational Director at Listen and Talk in Seattle, a program that offers early intervention, blended preschool and pre-K classes, listening and spoken language therapy, and audiology support. The Hands & Voices' mission to support families, regardless of the communication modality they have chosen, resonates with her. As she has grown professionally, her commitment to ensuring that families have accurate information about all of the educational and communication options available to them has been strengthened. Actively participating in Hands & Voices allows her to support families across our state. She has been a Board member, most recently acting as the secretary, for many years. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her family. They enjoy music, theater, reading, swimming, the outdoors and traveling.
Betsy Tsukimura is a board member and Newsletter Editor for WA Hands & Voices. She is a mom to two young children, one deaf and one hearing. Her family is learning ASL and uses both ASL and English at home, with a little Japanese thrown in for fun. Betsy was first introduced to Hands & Voices through the Guide by Your Side program and joined the organization with the goal of supporting other families facing sometimes overwhelming decisions around raising children with hearing loss. Betsy and her family live in Seattle and in their free time enjoy exploring the mountains and waterways of the Pacific Northwest.
Washington Hands & Voices is recruting for board and committee members.
We are a dynamic group of parents and professionals working together in a supportive environment to increase supports to families of Deaf, Deaf/Blind and Hard of Hearing children throughout our state.
Meetings are every other month and held in the Seattle area, or offered virtually for members living outside the area. Open to the public, our meetings provide ongoing sign language interpreting.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org