SKI-HI Institute Facilitates Deaf Mentor Training on Guam

Two years of preparation and hard work to bring the SKI-HI Institute’s Deaf Mentor Program to Guam came to fruition. On January 15, SKI-HI Institute Deaf Mentor trainers, Paula Pittman and Jodee Crace met with Cathy Tydingco, Guam Department of Education Part C Coordinator – Guam Early Intervention System (GEIS) to discuss the critical role GEIS holds in the development of a Deaf Mentor Program for the island’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) children birth to 5-years-old and their families. The success of the program relies on the partnership between the GEIS Service Providers and the Deaf Mentors working together to provide families with the best services possible.

SKI-HI lead trainer Paula Pittman is no stranger to Guam. Her last visit was about 10 years ago when she conducted SKI-HI training for teachers and service providers of DHH infants. This was Ms. Crace’s first trip to the island as a SKI-HI trainer for Deaf Mentors. Ms. Crace is a DHH adult and one of a team of three trainers for the Deaf Mentor component of the SKI-HI curriculum. SKI-HI programs can be found throughout the United States as well as countries such as South Africa, England, Poland and a few areas in China to name a few. The unique aspect of the Deaf Mentor Training compared to other trainings is that the entire training is done in American Sign Language (ASL). Participants are required to be fluent in ASL to attend the three-day training. From January 16-18, 13 deaf adults participated in the rigorous training to build the island’s local capacity of Deaf Mentors at the Guam System for Assistive Technology (GSAT) training room located at the University of Guam. Of the 13 trainees, 11 completed the program.

To better understand the SKI-HI Deaf Mentor Program, Guam CEDDERS’ Guam Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Deaf Mentor Program invited GEIS and Guam Positive Parents Together (GPPT) staff to participate on the first day to receive an overview of the program. Two ASL interpreters were present on day one to interpret for the hearing attendees of the training.

This was a first for both interpreters and hearing adults present during day one of training. GEIS, GPPT, and EHDI staff, as well as interpreters gained the unique experience of the communication challenges DHH adults face on a daily basis in the hearing world. Interpreters shared that they are used to and most comfortable when interpreting in ASL for DHH community; however, when voicing the signs from DHH individuals to hearing individuals, the task was more challenging in conveying the message that the DHH speaker intends to relay. The completion of this training forged stronger connections between the Deaf Mentors and GPPT. The GPPT Parent Support Group is currently planning activities to bring the deaf adults in contact with families of children identified with a hearing loss. Guam CEDDERS continues to work with Guam’s Special Education personnel to develop an approach to utilize and maximize the skills acquired by the identified Deaf Mentors.

The SKI-HI curriculum for early intervention and training began in 1972. The institute is currently part of the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Families are given choices, illuminated to possibilities, given information and skills and are strengthened in confidence, appreciation and love of their child, as well as envisioning a future full of hope for their child.

On January 18, participants completed a three-day SKI-HI Deaf Mentor Training held on January 16, 17, and 18, at the Guam System for Assistive Technology (GSAT) conference room. This intensive three-day training was conducted in American Sign Language (ASL) by SKI-HI Deaf Mentor instructors, Paula Pittman and Jodee Crace. The purpose of the training is to provide a foundation for development of the Deaf Mentor Program on Guam. Pictured Front Row (left-right): Michelle Aguigui, Associate Director, Guam CEDDERS, Bong Sun Ahn, Cory Mendiola, Paula Pittman, Ph.D. SKI-HI, Jodee Crace, MA, SKI-HI, Cory Mendiola. Back Row (left-right): Tasha Hanley, Normie Ilustre, Myra Aguon, Janice Toves, Melencia Porto, Eufrocino Porto, Christopher Taitingfong, Francisco R. Perez, Jr., and Regina Hawkins. Not Pictured: Tanya Simer, Research Associate, Guam CEDDERS and Marie Wusstig, Training Associate, Guam CEDDERS.
On January 16, Myra Aguon (left), Deaf Mentor trainee, introduces herself as Deaf Mentor Trainers Jodee Crace and Paula Pittman, from Utah State University, SKI-HI Institute watch and listen intently.
On January 16, members of the Deaf Community shared about themselves and what they hope to gain after the three-day SKI-HI Deaf Mentor Training. Pictured sitting at the table (left-right): Normie Ilustre, Bong Sun Ahn, Christopher Taitingfong, and Regina Hawkins.
On January 16, after discussion and brainstorming with her group members, Myra Aguon records potential “Challenges” and “Solutions” a Deaf Mentor may encounter during a home visit as Paula Pittman seizes the moment to capture a photo of the group in action. Pictured from (left-right): Eufrocino Porto, Myra Aguon, Normie Ilustre, Paula Pittman, Director SKI-HI and Deaf Mentor Outreach, SKI-HI Institute, Utah State University.
On January 16, participants worked collaboratively in small groups to discuss and list the characteristics of an effective Deaf Mentor. Pictured (left-right): Tasha Hanley, Cory Mendiola, Regina Hawkins, Normie Ilustre, Christopher Taitingfong, and Melencia Porto. Not Shown: Francisco R. Perez, Jr., Janice Toves, and Jude Ogo.
On January 18, as part of the training activities, participants broke into two groups to play a game of “Trivia”. Each team generated a list of famous Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults. The team with the most unduplicated names determined the winner of the “Trivia” game. Pictured (left-right): Tasha Hanley, Normie Ilustre, Melencia Porto, Christopher Taitingfong, and Regina Hawkins.
On January 18, as part of the training activities, participants broke into two groups to play a game of “Trivia”. Each team generated a list of famous Deaf and Hard of Hearing adults. The team with the most unduplicated names determined the winner of the “Trivia” game. Pictured (left-right): Francisco R. Perez Jr., Myra Aguon, Cory Aguon. Back Row: Eufrocino Porto.
Community Services: Demonstration Services Continuing Education Developmental Disabilities Disability Studies Guam Early Hearing Detection & Intervention