It is our Mission and Vision to mainstream children with hearing loss by providing hope and empowerment to their parents and primary caregivers and co-creating an ecosystem that fosters a culture of inclusiveness.
In the fulfillment of our Mission and Vision we have identified Education, Mental Health, Knowledge Hub and Advocacy as our four key focus areas. The areas have been identified based on a deep and holistic understanding of the parents’ needs as well as the need to create a positive, inclusive eco-system for children with hearing loss.
Our Key Focus Areas
To integrate children into mainstream schools successfully
VConnect has published a MAINSTREAM GUIDE for parents, mainstream educators and hearing health professionals who work with children with hearing loss. The guide has been put together by a team of dedicated parents and professionals and edited by Ellen A. Rhoades, Eds, LSLS Cert. AVT and International Consultant and Mentor.
The guide has been published in English, Hindi, Marathi and Gujarati and can be downloaded for free from our Resources section.
A series of workshops have been conducted around four key themes of the guide:
- How We Hear
- Preparing and Equipping for Mainstream
- Strategies, Guidelines and Tips for Teachers
- Best use of Technology for Online Classes/ Hearing Technology and Support for Online Classes.
VConnect offers curated workshops for organizations and educational institutes. Please connect with us on [email protected]
To nurture the mental health of caregivers and children
VConnect has established a strong partnership with Ummeed Child Development Centre and Raviraj Shetty, Occupational Therapist and Co-founder, Narrative Practices India for the Mental Health programme. The program is headed by Ms. Julie Thakkar, Director Mental Health and supported by Vahishtai J Daboo, LSLS Cert. AVT, Co-Founder and Managing Trustee. Both Julie and Vahishtai are certified Mental Health practitioners. The Mental Health program at VConnect has two components – outreach and support.
Outreach – Parent Peer Support Mental Health Training
Seventeen parents are certified as mental health facilitators after completing an eight -month training program conducted in collaboration with Ummeed Child Development Center. The parents were trained in Narrative Approach which is a respectful, non-blaming approach to counselling and community work, which centres people as the experts in their own lives.
The certified VConnect Mental Health Facilitators now conduct on-going Parent Peer Support workshops to nurture the mental health of caregivers in the VConnect Community. These workshops are conducted in fun and creative ways, which empower caregivers by engaging them in co-learning simple strategies which help nurture their own and the mental health of their families. The sessions are conducted across all the VConnect circles and are offered in four different languages – English, Hindi, Gujarati, or Marathi to ensure accessibility to all.
Outreach – Support group teenagers and young adults
We run support groups to support and empower teenagers and young adults to help strengthen their confidence, build better social emotional skills, and develop connections, friendships and bonds with their peers. This is turn helps develop self-advocacy skills and empowers them to achieve their full potential. These are conducted by teenagers who are being trained by Juliee and Vahishtai. The support sessions are conducted in Hindi and English.
Support – Chai Pe Charcha/ Coffee Connect
Chai Pe Charcha / Coffee Connect is an open forum and a space where families share experiences, ask questions, discuss and think together on issues they are struggling with or want guidance on. This helps build a community that feels supported and creates a safe space for recreation and peer bonding for the community.
Support – Chatrooms
Every VConnect member is part of a VConnect circle based on geography and is a member of the Circle chatroom. The chatroom helps parents share and learn from each other as well as pose queries that get responded to by experts.
To disseminate knowledge to caregivers and professionals for the holistic development of the child
Information and knowledge are provided on a vast array of subjects that are of importance to the caregiver and to professionals helping them take necessary steps for the holistic development of their children.
As part of the VIDYA SERIES different subject matter experts are invited to address parents and provide insights and approaches that help in the holistic development of their children. Topics, skills, and knowledge about different aspects of child development, maternal wellbeing, genetic counselling, hearing health including hearing devices (cochlear implants, hearing aids, BAHA), Listening and Spoken Language (Auditory Verbal Therapy), How to Develop Literacy Skills, are covered. The sessions are conducted every on every fourth Saturday of the month. The YouTube links for the sessions already conducted are available in the Resources section.
The SAATH SAATH SERIES focuses on helping every child realize their full potential
Co-curricular activities are conducted by professionals in the fields such as Speech & Drama, Music, Story Telling, Quilling, Art and Career Counselling to name a few. The children participate along with their caregivers, siblings and families.
The Resources section on the website has a compilation of material that can be of assistance to parents and professionals. An FAQ series is available that addresses most common concerns and queries.
To advocate the need for an inclusive ecosystem
Universal New Born Hearing Screening
New Born Hearing Screening leads to early detection and inclusion, which is one of the cornerstones of effective inclusion of children with hearing loss. VConnect is collaborating with different stake holders including ENT organisations, institutions, hospitals, and the government to petition and influence policy to make New Born Hearing Screening mandatory in India. Our petition template is uploaded in the Resources section.
Hamare Adhikar / Our Rights
Parents need to be made aware of their rights and the rights of the children. They need to understand various schemes, concessions in education, benefits in taxation that are being provided by the government. ‘Hamare Adhikar / Our Rights is a webinar series that addresses various subjects such as Right to Education (RTE), Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Hearing Aids and Appliances (ADIP) Scheme, Unique Disability ID (UDID) Card, Educational Boards procedures and concessions, Income Tax and Transport benefits. The video links and relevant literature is available in the Resources section.