Deaf mentor project

Deaf mentors are a resource to help parents learn sign language. One way to develop sign language skills is to attend sign language classes. Classes taught by a native user of sign language, a deaf adult, can be even more effective. However sign language classes taught by skilled instructors and/or by deaf adults are lacking in many parts of the state. And sometimes the content of a sign language class will not be focused on your family’s particular communication needs. For these reasons, DHHS has collaborated with the SKI-HI Institute in Utah to train deaf adults in Minnesota as deaf mentors/sign language instructors.

Overview of deaf mentor services

Deaf mentors have been trained by the national SKI-HI Deaf Mentor training program and are skilled at teaching parents and family members sign language, early visual communication. They can also introduce you and your family to aspects of deaf culture.

The services of deaf mentors are particularly well designed to mesh with early intervention programs for families with deaf and hard of hearing children. However they can also be used with families who have older children or others who need to learn sign language to communicate.

Program Process

  • • Families fill out an application and submit it to their regional Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHS) office.
  • • Upon receipt of the application, an initial assessment is completed by DHHS regional office staff.
  • • If the family is an appropriate fit for the program and a Deaf mentor and program funds are also available, the DHHS regional staff will work with the family to plan mentor services.
  • • Once services are in place, a mentor can begin to work with a family. The mentor will typically spend two hours per week with a family, utilizing lessons from the SKI-HI Deaf Mentor Curriculum.
  • Click here to fill out and print an application online (pdf).

    Click here for a printable version of the information on the Deaf Mentor Program (pdf).

    Qualifications and training

    Deaf mentors referred to you by DHHS have completed training using the SKI-HI Deaf Mentor Training Curriculum. They have been chosen based on their fluency in American Sign Language, their ability to communicate easily with hearing families, their comfort with young children, and their ability to support family decision. They have also agreed to on-going training by DHHS staff and to provide services in accordance with "A Plan for Mentorship of Minnesota Families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children."

    Deaf mentors are independent contractors and negotiate their own rate of pay.

    Who pays for deaf mentors?

    Depending on the situation, deaf mentors are sometimes paid for:

  • • By school districts/special education (see Family Communication Options)
  • • With county Medical Assistance waivered service dollars (check with your county social service program)
  • • With community grants (contact your local DHHS office for assistance)
  • • By parents
  • Booklets:

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