Tuesday, 13 December 2011

A Good Launch: the KDEC Transition Programme

Somewhere between the school years and the real world beyond lies the important time of transition into adulthood.  For KDEC students, a year or two in our Transition Programme can provide lifeskills training that will prepare them for the independent living.  From work experience to relationships to activities designed to broaden their horizons, Transition students have exposure to a wide variety of experiences that will help them get ready for their future.  For more information on KDEC’s Transition Programme, contact Kerry Jelicich at kejelicich@kdec.school.nz

Now Hear This! Audiology Services from KDEC...

When was the last time you saw a deaf or hearing impaired student getting excited to see the audiologist?  It’s actually a common occurrence, says Leslie Searchfield and her crew, audiologists for KDEC. “That’s mainly due to the stickers,” she explained.  Customising hearing aids with brightly coloured earmoulds and bling has become all the rage.  Along with lots of fun and funky  sticker options, KDEC’s audiology services are available at no charge on the Archibald site and include:

·         full diagnostic hearing evaluation for the children aged nine months through to adult

·         Hearing aid selection, fitting and management

·         FM selection, application for funding, fitting and follow-up

·         Students who utilise hearing aid and FM technology are also visited at school about once a term to ensure their equipment is working well

·         Free batteries for all children and youth using hearing aids from Taupo to Cape Reinga

An audiologist is also available to answer questions or concerns about the hearing loss and hearing aids.  Contact Leslie Searchfield at Phone (09) 8274859 or email: leslies@kdec.school.nz

Cochlear Implants: Looking (& Listening) Good!

Cochlear implants are pretty common nowadays.  What’s uncommon is the unique partnership between KDEC and Hearing House that provides trained staff so each child using this technology gets the help they need. KDEC has contracted through the Northern Cochlear Implant Trust since July 2005 to provide auditory habilitation and audiological support to children who receive cochlear implants. Working in conjunction with the Hearing House, this service focuses on the pre-school children. Many school aged children with progressive losses may also be referred to the programme. It is important that an initial referral is made early so that a child’s ability to hear spoken language is maximised. If you have any questions or enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact KDEC’s Jim Casey, jimc@kdec.school.nz

Monday, 12 December 2011

Question: Who's taking care of 1500 children at a time?

Answer:  KDEC’s Kevin Wong, Hearing Aid Technician

If you’re deaf or hearing impaired child is wearing hearing aids or using an FM system, or hearing with a cochlear implant, chances are good that you already know Kevin.  He’s an amplification technology wizard who shepherds the repair of some 350 devices for students all over the upper North Island each term.  Do the maths: that’s about five to eight devices per student (anything from hearing aids to FM sound systems/receivers, to iComs).  Kevin is good.  He’s really good at what he does.  And he’s fast and efficient.  Kevin’s output consistently beats the Ministry’s regulated timeline for maintenance and repair.  That he manages to do all of this solo, and without ever losing his cool is why his colleagues gave him a standing ovation at a KDEC Service Awards ceremony. 
It’s good to know KDEC has people like Kevin around to make sure the technology is doing its part for our kids—at no cost to their parents wherever these students attend school on the North Island.  Drop by the Kelston campus on Archibald Road in West Auckland and introduce yourself the next time you’re in town or contact Kevin at: kevinw@kdec.school.nz

Sunday, 11 December 2011


NZSL Tutor Shona can't wait to meet you!
Would you like to learn one of New Zealand's official languages? Then sign up for New Zealand Sign Language--it's fun and exciting!  KDEC offers NZSL  and Deaf Studies courses for families/Whanau, educational professionals, Deaf students in Deaf school, Deaf units, or in the mainstream.  We even teach hearing students in public schools. These NZSL courses are mainly designed for one to two hour lessons.  Our NZ Curriculum covers NZ Sign Language and Deaf Studies with sociocultural contexts for each level from Level 1 to Level 8.
Plus, KDEC can help you communicate with your signing Deaf child and/or with adults in NZSL. You will be taught NZSL Grammar with heaps of conversational practice.  If you would like to know more about NZSL, contact Anne Shorland at annes@kdec.school.nz

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Halloween at KDEC

We had our first Halloween party at KDEC this weekend...it was a blast.  The kids from Totara Village started decorating at noon on Saturday.  The Common Room was festooned in spider webbing, crepe paper, and orange and black balloons in short order.  There were yummy snacks, great costumes and gobs of crazy games.  The big finale was the kids' version of Michael Jackson's THRILLER.  Check out all the fun pictures at www.totaravillagekdec.blogspot.com

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The Powhiri at Ruamoko Marae

From the front of the red-pillared room Michael stomps the floor, his sturdy form sending vibrations we all feel from the feet upward.  He brings to mind a Sumo wrestler but he is in fact the sacred Maori elder at this temple, this Marae (Maori for “meeting place”).  The Ruamoko Marae in Kelston (west Auckland) honors the Maori God of Earthquakes, aptly enough.  Michael looks like I would imagine the God of Earthquakes should look, but I’m finding his western name totally out of sync to his ancient face.  I surmise that he must have a really good name-sign because he is profoundly deaf and he sure can shake the earth. 
Michael Wi, Maori Elder

The ritualized ceremony of welcome, the Powhiri, had begun. We would soon be part of the “whanau” or extended family of this temple.  What an honor for an American (me: Leeanne Seaver from Hands & Voices) and her daughter, Makena (age 14 and happy to be along for the time of her life).  We are humble; very aware that we are the wide-eyed Pakehas (Anglos) who are actually out of place but nonetheless wholeheartedly accepted into this community.  The faces around us are a multi-cultural feast of Maori, Tongan, Samoan, and Cook Islanders, seasoned with a few Asians, Indians and Europeans…your typical Kiwi potlatch or haukai.
The Ruamoko Marae is the only Deaf Maori temple in all of New Zealand.  It’s small, as temples go, but deeply symbolic of both Maori and Deaf cultures.  The earthquake theme has special meaning to the Turi (Maori for deaf) because stomping the floor to get attention, and drawing meaning from vibrations of all kinds is second-nature to them.  Michael gives a nice speech after acknowledging the ancestors, and a special mention of those recently departed from the group.  He shares a  combination of Maori ritual with Deaf cultural values so we get a good primer in both.

We enter the Marae when summoned by Michael blowing long and loudly on a conch shell, then we walk solemnly towards the temple as two Maori women (wonderful young women who are students enrolled at KDEC) sing the traditional  poroporoaki—one from the dais at the Marae inviting us to enter, the other walking with us and announcing our coming.
For our part of the ceremony, Makena and I learned a song in Maori and N-Zed, the sign language of New Zealand.  We will sing and sign it at the appointed time after our male spokesman, David Foster (pictured at center, above) delivers a speech in Maori and N-Zed to introduce us.  Maori is a very male-dominated society, so David, my friend and the CEO of the Kelston Deaf Education Centre where I’ll be working for the next three months, sits in front of us during the ceremony as our official representative. Our introduction includes, among other things, a GPS-like locational poem David chants that will help the Maori ancestors and those present at the Marae understand where on the earth we’ve come from…it goes like this:
Ko Rocky Mountains toku maunga
Ko Michigan toku moana
Ko Mississippi toku awa
Ko Carthage toku wahi
Ko Leeanne Seaver tana ingoa
Katahi ano te waka rererangi ka tau mai
Ki te hari mae ko Leeanne
Ki te awhina, kit e hapai I tenei wananga
When it was time for us to sing, Makena and I stood with David and hoped we'd remember what we’ve been practicing feverishly since learning our part just the day before.
Makena and I practicing our Maori song and signs.
David worked carefully with us to get the signs and the Maori words right, and to understand all of this in the context of its cultural history and deep meaning.  We felt so honored to be a part of this.  We were ready:
Ehara I te mea (not the thing)
No naianei te aroha (of recent times, is love)
No nga tupuna (but by the ancestors it has been)
Tuku iho, tuku Iho (passed down, passed down)

Leeanne Seaver, David Foster and Makena Seaver
The tamariki turi (deaf children) did their part in the ceremony.  They signed and sang a song about New Zealand.

KDEC staff and teachers also had a part to play...what an interesting way to meet the people I would be working with for the next few months. Jill (in bright blue) became indispensable to me...a good friend.
KDEC Whanau

The ritual, the ceremonial words and the heartfelt spirit of the Powhiri experience elevates the ordinary ("hey everybody, meet the new temporary project consultant from America") to an extra-ordinary level. It set the stage for what Makena and I would come to feel was our New Zealand "home" and family in so many wonderful ways.
Whanau is so important…whanau both living and no longer among us having contributed to the love and connection that create a sense of belonging in any community.  We feel lucky…blessed. And I think we did ok with the song; David says we did great.  As yet, there have been no requests for us to take the show on the road, so I think we’ll stick with our original agenda, which was for me to write a national public relations/communications campaign for the Kelston Deaf Education Centre, which is about to take its considerable show on the road.

The Powhiri concludes with a very tender display of our new bond as whanau through the touching of noses and breathing of each other’s air: the Hongi.  In the days that followed, as I started work with many of the people whose faces I first saw and noses I touched with my own at the Powhiri, I felt the happy realization that it is impossible to pass a colleague in the hall without a kind word and warm feeling after you’ve inhaled a little bit of each other’s wairua.  Wonder if I can import this back to the states…
© Leeanne Seaver 9/2011