MORE than 15 local deaf and hard of hearing school children have received an "inspiring" visit from deaf author and AUSLAN teacher Kerrie Taylor, thanks to a role-model program organised by Deaf Hub Bendigo.
Gathering at the Deaf Hub in Eaglehawk on Thursday, deaf and hard of hearing students from Bendigo and Shepparton participated in a creative writing workshop - led by the successful author.
Ms Taylor has written multiple children's books in an attempt to bridge connection and communication barriers in deaf families.
"I worked as a teacher of the deaf at (the) Victorian college for the Deaf and I was talking to my students and I said, 'Oh, when you read every night with your parents' and they were like 'No, my parents don't know, enough sign to read books to me', and that just broke my heart," Ms Taylor said.
And so that really drove me, parents needed a book that they could confidently read to their kid.- Kerrie Taylor
Ms Taylors children's books all have AUSLAN instructions to allow parents to sign the book to their children.
The author said learning how to effectively communicate is crucial for young deaf or hard of hearing kids.
"Kids are known to be delayed with their language because of their hearing loss, because they don't have that ability to overhear language," she said.
"The books are really important in getting parents confident, and learning more signs and having that vocab to have a deep discussion with their children just like they were hearing as a child."
"A lot of kids, they're in mainstream schools now, so they don't actually meet any other deaf and hard of hearing kids," she said.
A lot of these kids often compare themselves to hearing peers, and if they're not achieving things they sort of feel a little bit down and isolated.- Shayleigh Meldrum
"So by showing them someone (who is also deaf) and what they can achieve, we hope that it inspires them to do the same thing."
Ms Meldrum said the program was also important in connecting kids who had similar experiences.
"We have some kids who are the only deaf one in their entire school," she said.
"So that's hard for obvious reasons."
Dead Hub Bendigo are running multiple community programs in an attempt to encourage deaf or hard of hearing community members to socialise.
Chief executive Elise Stewart said the pandemic was particularly difficult for people with hearing loss.
"We had everyone wearing masks, so obviously that makes it incredibly difficult to lip read," she said.
"So we found a lot of people were just staying at home and were quite isolated, so we really want them to come out now."
To sign up for AUSLAN courses or see more of Deaf Hub Bendigo's community programs you can head to the organisation's Facebook page.
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