Newly Elected President: Apryl ChauhanWe began our journey in 2001 just prior to the New Born Hearing Screening launch in our local hospital. My first born was not identified as deaf until she was two years old which set my husband and I on a fast pace, learn as much as you can-as quickly as you can, adventure. We were fortunate enough to immediately be connected with a Parent Links Mentor and to this day I credit that experience as being a great part of my daughter's success. Having a connection with another parent raising a deaf child was truly priceless and from that connection I learned the power of parent to parent support.
For many years I served on the board of California’s IMPACT organization, working closely with a variety of professional, medical, educational and cultural organizations supporting families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children. For four years I also worked as a Parent Links mentor in Southern California, making those first contacts to parents with newly identified babies, and providing the same level of compassion, understanding and support that I was so fortunate enough to receive in the early days of my own daughter's journey.
The many parents and professionals I have worked with over the years have greatly impacted our families experience, however I feel most grateful to our connection with the Deaf Community. From my very first interaction with a deaf adult, to all of the painfully slow conversations I struggled with in American Sign Language, our family has been embraced and supported by the community. We have been fortunate enough to meet incredible role models for our daughter and have made lifelong friends who openly and positively continue to guide and support our family.
Because of our cherished connection with the Deaf Community you can find both our deaf and hearing children on various modeling, TV and film projects. Our family’s story was featured in the novel “Far from the Tree”, and recently our daughter has gained notoriety with the success of the Deaf Film Camp music videos, such as Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” which has over a million views on YouTube!
Now that my daughter is fifteen it's the perfect time to jump back into the world of parent to parent support. Although I well remember the early days of not knowing what to do or where to go turn, I now have more tools and more years of experience under my belt. Our family has experience in both mainstream education as well as the school for the deaf. We know what it means to work hard on speech development as well as learning a whole new language and culture. We have looked at every educational, technological and communication opportunity out there and took advantage of many of them, believing that there is no one way, or only way for our daughter. Exploring has given us a unique insight into the many avenues parents find themselves on.
I'm honored to take on the role of President for California Hands & Voices and I look forward to working with families all across this great state, supporting each other, sharing our thoughts and ideas and working collectively towards the same goal….successful and happy children.