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How to support your deaf teenager during the pandemic



Social networks and parent-child communication are critical for success

deaf, teens, support, peers, interactivity, online games

Whether you're the parent or a relative of a deaf teen, or your child has friends who are deaf, your support can help them navigate their absence from high school or college due to the pandemic. The National Deaf Center offers these tips for maintaining communication and advocating for students.

Keep them interacting. It's important for your teen to keep interacting with friends, as it's been shown that insufficient social connections leads to reduced opportunities for deaf people in the areas of work and education. Ask if your teen has been able to be in touch with friends. If not, help organize group chats through text messaging or video, depending on which method they prefer. Video relay services offer technology that allows deaf people using American Sign Language to communicate with hearing friends or family through video equipment, rather than through typed text.

Link to Junior NAD. Encourage your teen's involvement in deaf culture through Junior NAD (National Association of the Deaf) programs, reading #DeafSuccess stories, or even following the hashtag #DeafTalent on social media. Mentorship programs give deaf teens chances to develop confidence and deaf identity, which often boosts self-esteem.

Accessible online learning. If your child's school is using online learning, find out what platform they're working with and whether it includes ASL interpreters and speech-to-text functions. Make sure teachers have considered accessibility issues in their choices and planning. If you or your teen receive any resistance in these areas, remember that accessibility is your legal right, and keep insisting on equal opportunity.

Also remember that studies have shown that deaf students are more likely to succeed if parents set high expectations in terms of education and employment.

Fun with online games. Help your teen seek out online games and activities that are accessible. Some organizations have started compiling accessible resources, such as the National Deaf Education Conference and the Deaf Education Library at Boston University. Deafverse is an ASL-accessible online game that is both fun and supportive of personal development.

As a parent, you also need connections with people who understand your experiences. You can find support online from Hands and Voices, the Parent Center Hub, Council de Manos, or a National Deaf Center help team, which provides year-round assistance to families and schools.

Click here to get a helpful pdf for parenting your deaf teen during this pandemic



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