Peer Learning Groups

Helen Keller National Center is pleased to announce the following peer collaborative virtual learning opportunities offered through ZOOM videoconferencing. These support groups and/or active discussions are designed to cover a variety of topics with input from the participants at no cost. Group classes will start the week of April 20, 2020. 

Come join former HKNC students in an ongoing dialogue to share perspectives, experiences, and to support each other during this challenging time. Classes will be 4-8 weeks long depending on the group, to strengthen your knowledge and skills. 

These group discussions will be conducted using ZOOM videoconferencing, and participants are welcome to join by phone or video. The ZOOM link and call-in number will be provided when you register with Laura Benge, HKNC Regional Representative. You can email Laura at Laura.Benge@hknc.org with the subject line: “Virtual Classes”. Alternatively, you may call her at: Voice: (801) 518-9401 VP: (385) 355-8392 

Please review the peer learning groups listed below and let Laura know which group you are interested in joining. Please note, in an effort to provide participants with attention and accommodations they deserve, group size is limited to 8 participants and no more than 3 groups per person; first come first serve.

MONDAYS

11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST
Braille Buddies 

Braille Buddies is a discussion group for braille users. Participants will share daily ways they utilize braille, experiences from learning braille, and explore creative ways to develop their braille skills. Additionally, participants will discuss braille resources and how to access them.  This peer learning group will be facilitated by the HKNC Communications Learning Center staff: Peggy Costello, Pamela Rothman, Kim Mockler and Garwin Posner.  

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm EST
Taste of Tech

Are you curious about the technology other deaf-blind people use in their daily lives? Come join a weekly discussion that will review common technology available, unique ways technology can be used for accessibility, and where to find technology resources. This group will learn about braille displays, screen-readers, Sprint IP Relay and more!  This peer learning group will be facilitated by the HKNC Adaptive Technology Center staff: Bryan Ward, Megan Dausch, Bill Spagnuolo, Don Horvath and Rob Pena. 

2:00pm - 3:00pm EST
Understanding Nutrition 

Feeling sluggish?  Understanding nutrition is a great opportunity to learn how to boost your immune system to fight disease, learn healthy habits, and ask questions from our health experts.  This peer learning group will meet once a week for four weeks and will be facilitated by HKNC Medical Director, Peg Herzberg, and HKNC Nurse Manager, Carol Petrilli. 

TUESDAYS

11:00am - 12:00pm EST
Emergency and Disaster Planning 

Do you feel confident in your ability to respond to an emergency such as a house fire, a flood, an active shooter, or even a pandemic? The HKNC Emergency and Disaster Planning group will review ways to  respond in the event of various emergencies, how to set up an emergency bag, how to prepare for communication and navigation in all situations, and how to alert family and/or emergency personnel for help. This peer learning group will meet once a week for four weeks and will be facilitated by Val Chmela and Jamie Schagat.  

1:00pm - 2:00pm EST
Usher Syndrome Support Group 

This support group is available for individuals with Usher syndrome (US) who use ASL to communicate. This will be an open ended dialog where participants will lead discussion topics along with identified topics by the facilitator; this style forum will allow the opportunity to discuss the impact US has on you, your family and your life as well as identifying coping strategies. This support group will be facilitated by HKNC’s Mental Health Coordinator, Lisa Catanzaro.

2:00pm - 3:30pm EST
Advocacy in the Deaf-Blind World

Do you want to develop and enhance your ability and confidence to self-advocate? Advocacy in the Deaf-Blind World (ADBW) virtual classes are being offered over a period of eight weeks. Learn about your rights to communication access as it pertains to interpreting. The ADBW curriculum reflects the additional challenges experienced in many situations related to equal access common among the deaf-blind community. The classes will focus on strategies and opportunities for advocating for equal access to: communication, transportation, print/media and technology application. Emphasis is placed on understanding one’s own specific needs, being able to articulate these needs to others, understanding the laws that protect an individual’s rights to equal access, learning strategies for advocating for these rights and learning what steps to take if these rights are being violated. This course is facilitated by instructors who are deaf-blind themselves and are able to share personal experiences about their own self-advocacy. Facilitated by Megan Conway. This group is for individuals who utilize speech and are hard-of hearing. 

WEDNESDAYS

10:00am-11:00 am EST
Savvy Shopper Virtual Group 

In this tight economy, it is important to make your dollars stretch. Do you have friends who always get the best deals? You can too! In this group, tips and strategies will be shared and discussed for smooth and effective food shopping. Topics including preparing to go food shopping, making a shopping list, using QR code reader apps to obtain information on products while shopping, setting up your support to go shopping, the differences between online and in-person food shopping, choosing items based on brands, and using customer service will be discussed. Individual assignments will be provided for identifying your best practices. Facilitated by: Maricar Marquez, Erlisa Koci and Tracey Gilbert-Dallow

11:00am - 12:00pm EST
Usher Syndrome Support Group 

This support group is available for individuals with Usher syndrome (US) who utilize speech and are hard of hearing. This will be an open ended dialog where participants will lead discussion topics along with identified topics by the facilitator; this style forum will allow the opportunity to discuss the impact US has on you, your family and your life as well as identifying coping strategies. This support group will be facilitated by HKNC’s Mental Health Coordinator, Lisa Catanzaro.

1:00pm - 2:00pm EST
Internet Safety

The Internet Safety Group will provide tips and resources to give you skills to utilize the internet safely including social media, emails, online shopping, online banking, search engines, job searches, and more. We will focus on a different topic each week, such as: Do you know your social media privacy settings? Do you shop online securely? Do you use credentialed search engines? Do you use a strong password? 

We will share experiences and offer safety tips using both group discussion and question and answer formats. In addition, we will hope to provide resources for the consumers to use in the event of a security breach.  The facilitators are Bryan Ward, NY DBEDP Coordinator; Peggy Costello, CLC Supervisor; Megan Dausch, Adaptive Technology Instructor and Pamela Rothman, CLC Instructor.  This group begins on Wednesday, May 20 at 1:00-2:00pm EST.  It runs for 6 weeks.  Please contact Dora Carney,  Admissions Coordinator at Dora.Carney@hknc.org to sign up.  

Group Description 
The consumers will complete a pre-test prior to the Internet Safety Group 
First week – Introduction, pre-check, and password discussion 
Second week – Social media privacy settings
Third week – Online shopping and online banking
Fourth week – Search engines 
Fifth week – Open questions 
Sixth – Post-Check

2:00pm - 3:00pm EST
Covid-19 Live Chat 

Covid-19 Live Chat offers informational sessions to learn ongoing updates about the coronavirus and ways to protect yourself. Come share your experiences and support others with managing these new challenges in our daily lives.  This live chat will follow a question and answer format and will be facilitated by HKNC’s Medical Director, Peg Herzberg, Nurse Manager, Carol Petrilli, and Case Manager Valerie Chmela. 

Beginning April 15th - Every Wednesday                

This group will be on-going until there is no longer a need to continue. 

THURSDAYS

11:00am-12:00pm EST
Advocacy in the Deaf-Blind World

Do you want to develop and enhance your ability and confidence to self-advocate?  Advocacy in the Deaf-Blind World (ADBW) virtual classes are being offered over a period of eight weeks. Learn about your rights to communication access as it pertains to interpreting.  The ADBW curriculum reflects the additional challenges experienced in many situations related to equal access common among the deaf-blind community.  The classes will focus on strategies and opportunities for advocating for equal access to: communication, transportation, print/media and technology.  Emphasis is placed on understanding one’s own specific needs, being able to articulate these needs to others, understanding the laws that protect an individual’s rights to equal access, learning strategies for advocating for these rights and learning what steps to take if these rights are being violated.  Facilitated by Ryan Odland and Sonia Hernandez. This group is designed for ASL users.

1:00pm - 2:00pm EST
Support Group for People who are Hard-of-Hearing 

This support group is available for individuals who are hard-of-hearing. This is will be an open ended group dialog where participants can lead discussions based on their experiences of living in “a hearing world” and learn effective strategies from their peers. This support group will be facilitated by HKNC’s Mental Health Coordinator, Lisa Catanzaro.

2:00pm - 3:45pm EST
Mobility Support Group
 

From the time you get out of bed in the morning until your head hits the pillow at night you are traveling.  You travel within your home, outside around your home, and for most of us to points beyond our home.  Since Covid-19 our travel routes, outside of our home, have been compromised greatly.  These new challenges impact us all and we are longing for a new way to connect.  HKNC is offering a holistic MOBILITY GROUP to discuss your travel challenges, find strength and solutions from deaf-blind peers, and more importantly find a way to MOVE FORWARD TOGETHER.  Join us for a live weekly discussion group with HKNC staff from the following departments: Mobility, Low Vision, Audiology and Creative Arts.  Together we can move mountains but it all starts with the first step in supporting each other.

FRIDAYS

11:00am-12:00pm EST (Friday) 
Living on Your Own 

What is your dream for yourself for your future life? Do you want to develop the knowledge of what is involved with living on your own? In this group, tips and strategies will be shared and discussed for practical methods for living comfortably and safely at home. The topics of housekeeping, labelling and organization, food storage, alerting systems, living arrangements, and accessing one’s community will be discussed. Consumers will be invited to share their experiences about doing daily activities at home. Individual assignments will be provided. 

Facilitated by HKNC’s Independent Living department team: Maricar Marquez, Erlisa Koci, Lucia Trupin and Tracey Gilbert-Dallow.

1:00pm - 2:00pm EST
Appy Hour!

Join the HKNC Technology staff for a lively discussion about our favorite apps. We’ll explore applications that can help in your daily life by identifying that can of food in your kitchen, identifying who is in the room, or keeping you up to date on that latest best seller! This peer learning group will be facilitated by HKNC’s Adaptive Technology Center staff: Megan Dausch, Bryan Ward, Bill Spagnuolo, Don Horvath and Robert Pena.  

2:00pm - 3:00pm EST 
Banking and Budgeting  

Money makes the world go round and in this group, tips and strategies will be shared and discussed for practical methods of making payments, finding out how much you need to pay, staying safe at the ATM, and information on debit and credit cards.  Other topics will include strategies for communicating and interacting with the teller at the bank, information about how to open a bank account, and how to plan a budget. This discussion group is facilitated by the staff in the Communications Learning Center with Peggy Costello, Pam Rothman, Kim Mockler and Garwin Posner. Come join us in an important discussion topic in these times.