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Archived - DHH Newsletter (December 2021)

Term: December 2021 | Issue 11 | Exceptional Student Services |


Happy December everyone. As we bring another year to a close, I hope that you will take some time to reflect on the people, things, and/or experiences that you are truly grateful for. Although 2021 did not prove to be the magical year of getting back to “normal” or providing the stability 2020 seemed to take away, it did provide us with community and perseverance.  As I reflect on 2021, I am grateful for the time that we spent together.  Over the last year and a half, we have had more time together than in my first 4 years combined!  While we were not together in person, we were able to connect, problem solve, and find ways of making this year a better year for our students.  I am grateful for what I have learned from all of you.  Almost daily, I receive a call from someone in the field dealing with an unprecedented (you know I had to get this word in here) situation.  Although there are no “easy” answers, I am grateful we can talk through situations and brainstorm ideas together to create opportunities for our DHH students.  Each of your stories helps the next professional, student, and/or parent.  I am incredibly grateful to see how our students continue to persevere through times of uncertainty with the support that you continue to provide.  I know this year has not been easier than last, in fact, in many ways it has been harder.  I see how hard all of you are working and I value you more now than ever before.  Together we will get through this.  Together we will support each other.  And together we will continue to grow and be stronger than ever before.

The holiday season can be absolutely crazy.  It is easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of family/friend commitments, celebrations, and meeting the needs of others.  My hope for you is that you too will take some time, recognize what you have done, the impact that you have made, and explicitly identify your blessings.  I can honestly say that the professionals, families, and students of Colorado are a blessing that I am grateful for each and every year.  This is even greater in years of challenge, years of uncertainty, and years of doubt.  There is never a question in my mind that our community will step-up to the challenges presented and persevere to greatness!

Enjoy the season and soak up the moments. Create memories that can’t be expressed on Facebook, but that will forever live in your hearts and in the stories that you will tell.

I look forward to seeing you in 2022.  No matter what this next year brings I hope that I will be in the business of educating with all of you by my side!

Shuana Moden and the Colorado Deaf/HH Leadership Team

What's New?

Educational Advocacy Workshop

Calling all parents, caregivers and professionals!  This class is open to anyone who wants to learn more about supporting their own child or students on IEPs and understand their rights and access needs. Level One is a prerequisite to the Level Two class, where an application is required and an expectation that advocates would work for the CO ASTra program (Advocacy Support and Training).  The Level Two class will be offered in 2022/23. This online Zoom advocacy workshop, made possible by Colorado Hands & Voices along with a community grant from the Colorado Commission for the Deaf/HH and Deafblind takes place from 7:00-9:30pm over 4 Tuesday nights:

  • January 25
  • February 1
  • February 8
  • February 15

Register now by emailing providing your name, role, phone number and accessibility requests.

Campus Connections: Get Set Up for Success after High School

Marion Downs Center & Colorado Hands & Voices is still seeking a teacher of the deaf who would like to join our planning committee for the Campus Connections workshop to be held in late April for deaf and hard of hearing teenagers in grades 10 to 12. Most planning communications will take place via email and meetings can be scheduled outside of the school day.

You may email for more information or fill out the form at

Marvel Studios’ “Eternals”:  Student Movie Review

Earlier this year we discussed the importance of Deaf/HH representation in media.  Recently, Marvel released their newest movie “Eternals.”  Lauren Ridloff's character, Makkari, is the first Deaf superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)!  If you haven’t seen the film yet, you can still see it in a theater near you!  In the meantime, here is a Teen Movie Review written by a Colorado student who just so happens to wear Phonac’s Marvel hearing aids himself!

Teen Movie Review: “Eternals”

by: Justin Elliott, age 14, Academy District 20, Colorado Springs

I was lucky enough to see the movie Eternals over Thanksgiving break.

I am a big fan of the Marvel Comic Universe and have seen almost all the films, except The Hulk and Black Widow. For me, the film opened a big hole into the Marvel Comic universe. A group of alien superheroes has been guarding the people of earth against the Deviants, another group that wants to take over. They have a reason to intervene in this movie.

For the first time, one of the superhero characters was deaf. Makkari plays a speedster who uses ASL to communicate. I recognized a few of the signs.

I really liked the action and everything in the movie. I found the storyline amazing. The plot may be confusing to some people, but I understood it. Eternals would be one of my favorite Marvel movies. The film had a pretty big twist making it a lot better.

I'd like to see this movie again.

Note: See actor Lauren Ridloff introducing the Eternals team in sign language here:

Listening Fatigue

Anyone feeling fatigued these days? Whether physical, mental, or emotional, fatigue is hard to quantify - we just know it when we feel it. It is no fun, and it impedes our abilities in everyday life. Listening fatigue is a well-documented condition that individuals with reduced hearing experience on a daily basis. The increased effort required to listen contributes to decline in top-down processing resources which in turn leads to stress which results in fatigue. And the cycle continues throughout the day, each and every day for students with hearing loss in the classroom. Listening fatigue is an important factor that educators should consider when developing IEP and 504 Plans. Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers have been hard at work developing a tool to help us measure listening fatigue in school age children. They have just submitted the final manuscript on this work and the questionnaire will be released in the near future. While we anxiously await access to this resource, below are several links to help you gain perspective on this challenge that people who are deaf and hard of hearing often experience. The need for rest is real and we all need some about this time of the school year - but remember our kids might need a little extra throughout their school day to effectively learn and participate alongside their hearing peers.

Interested in Networking?

Calling all educational interpreters!! Are you interested in networking, resume-building, giving back to the profession, AND having fun while doing it?!   Volunteer with the Colorado Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf for the CRID 2022 Conference happening November 4-6, 2022, at the Denver Marriott West in Golden, CO. Ready to sign up?  Email Karen Perry, the Educational Interpreter Chair (

Interpreters as Mentors of the Educational Team

The IMET (Interpreters as Members of the Educational Team) Project is starting!  The website will be up and running in the next week and informational meetings are being scheduled for the new year.  We’re excited to be rolling things out.  Please share with your respective networks! For more information view the IMET flyer. 

Bowtie is Coming January 27th!

A multi-state presentation sponsored by CDE was an overwhelming success on November 11, 2021. The presentation was the first of a four-part series given by Dr. Joseph Smail on the topic of executive function (EF). Professionals and parents from Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming expressed much gratitude for this enlightening learning opportunity and look forward to the second session on January 27, 2022. Dr. Smail is an expert in executive function with both hearing and deaf/hard of hearing populations and has worked as a psychologist with DHH students across all levels and program settings. As a personable professional who truly cares, DHH students affectionately call him ‘Bowtie’ in reference to his signature neckwear.

 According to Dr. Smail, executive function skills begin developing in infancy and are typically complete when young adults are well into their 20s. These cognitive skills make it possible for people to set goals, regulate impulses, and complete steps necessary to achieve objectives. The development of EF skills is critical to educational success throughout K-12 and transition into young adulthood. Understanding EF is vital as teachers and parents often mistake EF difficulties as something else such as behavior problems and are at a loss for how to help. While most of the research on EF focuses on young hearing children, Dr. Smail applies his EF knowledge and experience to all levels of DHH students including transition age. As a school psychologist for DHH programs Dr. Smail wears many hats and participates in IEP meetings where he interprets assessment data to determine goals that may support students’ EF development.

4 Part Executive Functioning Training Series

In the first session of this series, Dr. Smail provided a general overview of EF, described individual skills, brain development, assessment strategies, and ways to promote and coach the development of EF in students. He graciously offered to consult with CDE zoom participants via email to address lingering questions. If you missed this first session, no problem, please join us for the next one on January 27th from 4:00-6:00pm (Mountain Time).  Dr. Smail’s January presentation entitled, “Executive Functioning Skills for Successful Transition: Organization and Planning” will focus on how to identify planning and organization needs and effective ways to support these needs.  We encourage you to invite your education team, as well as families and your students ages 14+ to join!  Register for the January 27th event!

During all 3 of the next sessions, Dr. Smail will guide us in gaining a deeper understanding of specific EF skills as it ties to supporting transition age students with hearing loss.  We hope to include stories of students, parents and professionals who have already faced these challenges.  We are seeking parents, professionals, and students who are willing to share their EF journeys. If you have a student who seems to struggle with organizational skills, the ability to prepare for a task/event, emotional regulation, or motivation we would love to hear their story.  During our sessions with Dr. Smail, we will share real-world, real-student examples and explore strategies to help specific students that will empower them to improve their executive functioning skills.  To share your story please email Shauna Moden

We encourage education teams, students ages 14+ and families to join these Zoom trainings together in the same room, as permissible, for group participation is much more enriching than joining solo.

Training Dates & Registration Links

​Each Training will be from 4:00 PM - 6:00PM Mountain Time via Zoom

Executive Functioning Resources & References from Dr. Joseph Smail:  

Print References/Resources:

  • Smart but Scattered Teens by Dawson and Guare
  • Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Assessment and Intervention by Dawson and Guare
  • Boosting Executive Skills in the Classroom by Cooper-Kahn and Foster
  • Solving Executive Function Challenges by Kenworthy et al.
  • Promoting Executive Function in the Classroom by Meltzer

Online References/Resources

"All About Coffee"

A high school capstone project is a way for students to demonstrate the culmination of skills and knowledge gained through their academic career by completing a long-term, multi-faceted project. Students commonly choose a topic, profession, or social problem to explore and work with a mentor in that field of interest. The mentor guides the student through the project—sharing their knowledge of the field, teaching new skills, ensuring the student stays on task, and fostering a professional, real-world experience.

One student, in the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind (CSDB)-School for the Deaf, chose the topic “All About Coffee” for his capstone project. His mentor is a CSDB staff member and barista who helped with the skills needed for successful learning.  Recently, the student set up a coffee cafe' within the School for the Deaf and brewed delicious coffee for staff members.  He explained, using ASL, the method of brewing coffee and the background of the type of coffee he served.  Great job on this capstone project!

Help Us Highlight Students

If you have a student that is modeling leadership skills within their school or community, we want to hear about it.  If you have a student who is exceeding in any area, we want to hear about it.

If you have a student you would like to “spotlight” in a future Quarterly News in DHH, please complete the Input for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Newsletter form.

Upcoming Community Holiday Events and More!

Marion Downs Center Holiday Party 2021

December 11 @ 9:00 am - 11:30 am
Marion Downs Center
4280 Hale Parkway
Denver, CO  80220

The Marion Downs Holiday Party returns to the Marion Downs Center this year with Santa who can sign and cue!

Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Deaf Blind children (<12 years old) and their families are invited to join us for a FREE holiday celebration with arts & crafts, music, and an opportunity to tell Santa their wishes.

Tentative Schedule:

  • 9:00 – 10:00: Arts and Crafts
  • 10:00 – 10:45: Story Time and Holiday Music
  • 10:45 – 11:30: Visits with Santa (Children can finish their Arts & Crafts during this time or read books).

Visit the Marion Downs website for more information and to register!

We are excited to be back in person for this annual event. For safety reasons, space is limited. Our staff and volunteers are fully vaccinated, and we encourage face masks when not communicating with other individuals.

Sponsored by the Marion Downs Center and organized in collaboration with CO Hands & Voices with support from the Ascent Program (A Colorado EHDI Program in collaboration with Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind) and Linguabee.

Contact Marion Downs Center at this link if you have any questions or special requests.

Denver Metro Association of the Deaf (DMAD) Holiday Party

December 18, 2021
11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Tasty Lunch (of baked ham, turkey breast & more) Bank Day! Door Prizes! 

6 and under - FREE
7 - 16 - $5
Adult - $20 

$20 = Meal, Bank Day and Door Prize Raffle 

Must RSVP by December 12, 2021

For more information contact David O'Toole via email or phone ( or (720) 306-8102 VP)

Celebrating Kindness

A HUGE SHOUT OUT to Legacy High School ASL Classes! 

The students worked together and collected 8 BOXES of books for kids of all ages. On December 4th the collected books were donated and distributed at a holiday party sponsored by Rocky Mountain Deaf School, Colorado Hands & Voices, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind, AG Bell Colorado and Listen Foundation! 

Way to go Michele McCarthy (ToD), Brenna Bax (ASL Instructor) and the following students:

  • Hayden B.
  • Martha C.
  • Ella C.
  • Jessica D.
  • Morgan E.
  • Emma G.
  • Dylan H.
  • Ari H.

  • Saida H.
  • Katelyn H.
  • Isabelle J.
  • Maris K.
  • Cooper K.
  • Alisyn M.
  • Grey O.
  • Sydnee P.

  • Veronica P.
  • Cassidy R.
  • Esther R.
  • Kameron S.
  • Livia T.
  • Valentina V.
  • Larissa W.

Community Spotlight

Denver Metro Association of the Deaf (DMAD) Holiday Parties

2021 Ladies' Annual Holiday Party

Saturday, December 4, 2021 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

At the Denver Metro Association fo the Deaf (aka SAC) Hall, 1575 Elmira Street, Aurora, Colorado 80010

Ladies Only... Nice Attire (No blue jeans, please)


Bright Ears UK

As we are right in the middle of the holiday season, we would like to mention with appreciation “Bright Ears,” located in the UK.   Bright Ears, founded by Clare, an entrepreneurial mom, creates a range of inclusive dolls that empower children.  Starting in 2017, Clare created her first hearing aid doll for her youngest daughter.  Shortly after, other parents contacted her asking if she would make dolls for their children as well.  She now creates a variety of dolls, toys and other items for children to promote inclusiveness through play and proudly show their differences!  Read more of Clare’s story or visit the Bright Ears Facebook Page.

While several of Clare’s elves and dolls are currently sold out due to the Christmas rush, many products will once again be available January 2022!  (A few princess dolls and Toy Story figures are still available).  Dolls with cleft lip, down syndrome, hip spica casts, surgery scars, birthmarks, feeding tubes, stomas, insulin pumps hearing aids, cochlear implants and more are available from Bright Ears. View the full collection!  Due to their popularity, you may want to plan ahead for birthday gifts and even next year’s holiday “Elf on a Shelf.”

Rosie's Ranch: Connection to Education

Do you know the many ways horses assist humans?  Has there ever been a better time in which to develop self-esteem and self-confidence while building language and literacy skills?  Rosie's Ranch has expanded and they have a new website!  The mission at Rosie’s Ranch is “to provide an inclusive therapeutic environment where children, with and without special needs are able to connect with an equine partner and each other, under the guidance of qualified staff, building self-confidence, literacy and language skills through educational and equine assisted activities.”  There are so many opportunities for you, your family, your students and their family to meet the horses and ponies as well as ride them.  Rosie’s Ranch also loves volunteers and there are so many different ways to help out!  If you are seeking community service hours for middle or high school students, Rosie’s Ranch has several opportunities.

Did you know your school district can refer a child to Rosie's Ranch to assist in working toward IEP and/or ESY goals?  Did you know that Rosie's Ranch offers scholarships for children with hearing loss to attend the Lesson Program year-round as well as the Summer Day Camp Program?  For those traveling from outside the Denver metro area, Rosie’s Ranch has a NEW apartment at the ranch that is finished and ready for reservations!  Educational field trips are also available, reaching out to teach about the responsibilities involved with horse ownership and the emotional bond that is available if you reach out to horses.  Whether you are interested in one of their children’s programs, a family tour for your own family or to volunteer, give Rosie’s Ranch a call! (720-851-0927) They would love to serve you and the students and families in your district.

If your organization serving individuals with hearing loss would like to be highlighted in the Community Spotlight Section, please fill out the Input for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Newsletter form.

Cheryl Johnson

Get ready to put on your walking/running shoes and join us in honoring Jennifer Anthea DeConde.  Many of you know our amazing Cheryl DeConde Johnson, Ed.D. who has been instrumental in creating strong D/HH programming throughout the state of Colorado.  She is also one of the founding mothers of Hands & Voices and continues to be a leader who creates positive change wherever she goes.  This year Cheryl lost her daughter, Jennifer Anthea DeConde, to cancer.  Jennifer was also a strong educator and passionate about creating change in the world.  To honor Jennifer and her family, the D/HH Leadership team is creating a team to participate in the CO Hands & Voices New Year Virtual 5K: Make a Run for It (12/31/21 - 1/2/22).  If you are interested in joining our team let us know HERE.  Let’s show our support by coming together and raising money for an organization held so dear by both Jennifer and Cheryl.  Event Registration Click Here to participate in the Virtual 5K or you can also register to Sleep In & Show Your Support!

Cheryl, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.  We hope to see you in person in 2022!

Small But Mighty

Our community is small but mighty!  We care deeply for the students that we serve and the professionals that we work with side by side.  Over the past couple of years folks have asked if we can share stories of those struggling within our community and how we can support these individuals and their families through difficult times.  This year we are adding a section to our newsletter called “With Loving Care” where we can share tragic news within our community AND ways that we can support those around us.  Please know that CDE does not endorse the stories shared, the activities, or calls for support.  This is simply a place where D/HH professionals can share information within our community in the spirit of caring.

If you have someone you would like to show loving care in our next issue. please fill out the Input for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Newsletter form.

In-Person Professional Development

From holiday events to professional development opportunities, keep an eye on the Statewide Collaboration Webpage and DHH Events Calendar for upcoming dates, topics and registration links.  We are hoping to join together in person at 4 meeting sites for the February DHH Statewide Collaboration.  Click on the form below to provide your feedback for how you want this collaboration to look.  Full day, half day, which day and more...

Brought to you by your Colorado Deaf/HH Leadership Team:

Colorado Hands & Voices

To refer to Colorado Hands & Voices programs statewide:

Refer to Parent-to-Parent Support

If you are looking for Parent-to-Parent support for yourself or a family, birth to age 18, please reach out to our Guide By Your Side (GBYS) Coordinator, Jamie Fries, by completing the GBYS referral form

Contact Jamie by email or phone ( or (970)318-8962 (v/t))

Refer from Audiology

If you are referring from an audiology department please contact our Data Outreach Coordinator Kelly Fernandez-Kroyer via email, phone or fax.

Email Kelly Fernandez-Kroyer
Phone: (720) 937-8905 (v/t)
Fax: (720) 491-4094

Educational Advocacy

If you are looking for support with an IFSP/504/IEP please reach out to the Advocacy Support & Training (ASTra) Coordinator Brenda Elliott, by completing the referral form.

Email Brenda Elliott
Phone: (719) 237-3499 (v/t)

"What works for your child is what makes the choice right."TM

New Tools

Check out the TOOLBOX page on the Collaboration Website.  New tools and resources from our recent Zoom Collaborations have been added.  This is a site for SHARING what is working well for you!  We are lucky to work together in a state with the incredible expertise you bring.  If you have a tool you would like to see added to the Collaboration Website, please send it to Mandi Darr,

Colorado Deaf/HH Statewide Events Calendar

As we move into the new year, feel free to share this calendar with your families and members of your school teams!  Many events are already posted for January and beyond!  Click on the calendar icon to check out events for students, families and professionals!   Don’t forget to add this calendar to your own Google Calendar.

Picture: Calendar

Do you want to get the word out about your event?  Post an event on the Colorado Deaf/HH Events Calendar Here

Now Hiring

View the current Deaf/HH job openings in Colorado

 If you would like to submit your own posting, Visit the D/HH Job Posting Request Form


Input for the Newsletter

We want to provide you with a Newsletter that shares information from across the state.  If you want to add to any of the sections of the Newsletter or you want us to add another section to the Newsletter, please provide us with information to share by filling out the Input for Deaf and Hard of Hearing form


Every quarter we want to take some time to show our appreciation for individuals who make an extra special impact on those around them.  This quarter we have included those who continually recognize their peers.  These individuals have taken the time to continuously fill the cups of their peers by letting them know that their actions have not gone unnoticed.  We also want to give a shout out to those of you who continue to invite team members to our collaboration opportunities.  We are better together!  Thank you for taking the time to invite your colleagues into our community of sharing and learning.  ALL of you work incredibly hard each and every day.  I thank you for what you do.  I also want to give an extra special thank you to those who go the extra 10-miles and who give so much of themselves.  We appreciate you!

Kudos for those continually showing appreciation

  • Tara O'Neill Aronson
  • Rhonda Urbach
  • Mary DiDario
  • Mary Mosher-Stathes
  • Megg Stalker
  • Ann Forsberg
  • Kelly Welch
  • Susan Elliott
  • Lisa Canon
  • Janette O'Brien
  • Mandi Darr

Kudos to those who ensure that our community stays connected

  • Kelly Welch
  • Susan Elliott
  • Wendy Hill
  • Tina Carey
  • Jeanette Smith, D 60 Audiologist
  • Lisa Cannon
  • Mandi Darr
  • Jessica Garcia
  • Lindsey Nettleton
  • Megg Stalker

AND…. Here are two additional special shout outs

Mary Didario
D51 Mesa County Valley

You are carrying the load and making big things happen for students.


Libby Heilbrunn
Boulder Valley School District

A well-deserved shout out goes to Libby Heilbrunn, DHOH Teacher at Monarch PK-8 who embodies kindness, wisdom, and perseverance. Libby works tirelessly to support the DHOH students in our school/district through creative problem solving, fun project-based lessons, and individualized support every step of the way.  Libby is charismatic and respectful, always blending humor and professionalism with every interaction.  Libby provides so much reassurance, encouragement, and support to the interpreter team. Throughout the past year of the pandemic, Libby has demonstrated adaptability and innovation to maintain momentum and progress through various challenges. Libby goes out of her way to help those around her and check in with colleagues. It is an honor to work alongside Libby and bear witness to the remarkable difference she makes in the lives of the students in our district. Libby, we are so grateful for your dedication and passion. Thank you for everything you do, every single day! Cheers.


If you have questions regarding anything in this newsletter please contact Shauna Moden. 

Email Shauna Moden

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