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Deaf Mentor Program News
December 2022
EHDI Project Director Spotlight

It is with bittersweet feelings that Pam Aasen is stepping down from her role as EHDI Project Director at the end of December. She has been an integral part of SPAN tirelessly devoting her time and resources to establish the NJ Deaf Mentor Program and Parent-to-Parent Program. She has brought a wealth of experience both as a professional and as a parent leader in the deaf/hard-of-hearing and visually-impaired communities. In advocating for her own children with Usher Syndrome, Pam has successfully led parent engagement initiatives and worked with parents in partnership to become advocates for their children. We look forward to what the future holds for her.
Photo description: Portrait of Pam with shoulder-length blonde hair, wearing a striped blouse and a navy blue vest, smiling at the camera 
We are delighted to welcome Stephanie Renart as our new EHDI Project Director. She has been involved with SPAN's Family Support & Engagement Parent Group since 2017. She became a staunch advocate for deaf children when learning that her son, Cole, was born Deaf in 2015. Stephanie continues to educate herself on the growing needs of deaf children and their need for language acquisition in order to have equity among their peers. She believes in the importance of families having access to resources so they can confidently advocate for their deaf children. Stephanie lives in South Jersey and also has two hearing children. She has worked in marine construction for the past 20 years. She enjoys spending time with her family and listening to audiobooks and true crime podcasts.

Photo description: Portrait of Stephanie with shoulder-length black hair, wearing a dark gray cowl neck sweater, and smiling at the camera
Tips for a Deaf-Friendly
Holiday Gathering
The holidays have arrived! While this season is a joyful occasion, it can also be a bit overwhelming. It can be a reminder of inaccessibility, which is often frustrating and isolating especially for deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Dinner Table Syndrome is a term used to describe the feeling of isolation that a person experiences when they cannot fully participate in a conversation with hearing people, for example, at the dinner table.
This is an opportunity to get creative with communication!
1: Seating Arrangement
Low centerpieces
allow clearer sight lines
for lip-reading
Reduce glare
by closing the curtains or allowing the deaf guest to sit in front of the window
Ample lighting
to reduce eye strain and
concentration fatigue
2: Reduce Background Noise
Reducing the noise level of music, or turning it off completely, can make conversations easier to hear at an already busy table.
3: Turn on Closed Captioning
Closed captioning helps deaf people follow what is happening on TV, especially in a noisy environment such as family gatherings.
4: Speech-to-Text Apps
Ava color-codes speakers to identify who is speaking. This allows deaf guests to follow and engage in dinner table discussions with multiple speakers.
TextHear transcribes conversations in-person as well as over the phone. It offers special features such as multilingualism, adjustable fonts, and auto-punctuation.
5: Involve Your Deaf Guest
There are many ways to communicate, regardless if the deaf guest uses sign language or listening and spoken language. Use visual cues or tap gently to get their attention, and interact with them directly. Use gestures and facial expressions. Maintain eye contact as you speak to them.

If the deaf person misses out on information, such as a joke, fill them in on all the details! Do not say “I’ll tell you later” or “it’s not important.” You may not intend to cause harm, but brushing off the guest this way can be hurtful and frustrating. Either repeat the statement verbally or write it down on paper or in your phone’s notes app.
6: Consider Deaf-Friendly Games
Avoid any games or group activities that are heavily dependent on oral cues. Instead, choose games that rely more on visual cues or physical competition.
  • Pictionary
  • Uno
  • Skipbo
  • Checkers/Chess
  • Scrabble
  • The Mind
  • Mysterium
  • Tranquility
  • Magic Maze
  • Dutch Blitz
LSL Corner
Moog Center's
Activity of the Month
The Moog Center for Deaf Education shares a monthly activity to promote language development in young children. They provide sample language at five different levels based on your child’s language level. Visit the website to get a new activity and learn how to increase vocabulary and language for your child all month long!
Bridget's Materials and Blogs
Bridget is a speech language pathologist who focuses on play-based therapy to promote language development. She develops creative materials to keep your child engaged!
ASL Storytelling
Merry Christmas Splat
By Rob Scotton
Signed by Lisa Cochran
Snowmen at Night
By Caralyn Buehner & Mark Buehner
Signed by Jeni Jackerson & Vance Youngs
Described & Captioned Media Program
DCMP educates students with sensory disabilities, along with their parents and teachers. Their major network-produced, educational content is carefully customized to serve the needs of K-12 students, as well as adult students studying to meet the needs of blind and deaf students.

Join our Facebook page to check out resources, videos, tips, and articles shared regularly with the group. Resources to support deaf children virtually are also shared as they become available. Click to join!

If you would like to receive information about the COVID-19 vaccine for your child(ren), please email
Contact if you have any questions about our program.