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Emilio Alonso-Mendoza summerDear Alexander Graham Bell Community,

Last week, I touched upon the inspiration I often feel working here at the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. A great part of Dr. Alexander Graham Bell's drive as an individual stemmed from his unwavering passion for connections. He made it possible for students to connect with the world around them by supporting their spoken language development. He fostered connections among teachers of the deaf by uniting them under one primary premise: that spoken language was the best future for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The first stepping-stone forward that Dr. Bell made in spreading the word of his mission for people who are deaf and hard of hearing was the formation of this association in the state of New York. Since then, AG Bell has built 25 state chapters across the United States. New Jersey Chapter President Sue Schmidberger joined AG Bell as the national Chapter Advisor, periodically working with us at the Volta Bureau. Sue has provided a strong vision for the future of AG Bell's chapters, building connections so that we can reach out to more parents, more professionals, and more deaf and hard of hearing adults. Together, we will be a stronger voice in advancing listening and spoken language for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.  

AG Bell Florida at a Chapter Service Session
Members of the AG Bell Florida chapter at a chapter service
session in Orlando, Florida.

The vision forward for AG Bell's chapters is to embody a more cohesive model, as they play a crucial role in building community among parents of children with hearing loss, professionals and adults with hearing loss. With a better organization of our chapter system, we hope to expand that feeling of community more broadly than ever.

Corrine Altman, the co-president of our Nevada chapter and an AG Bell board member, became involved with AG Bell because she has two children with hearing loss. The teachers involved in helping her children use listening and spoken language suggested she join AG Bell.  

Arnie and Corrine Altman and their family
Corrine and Arnie Altman
and their five children. 

Corrine has been a member of the association for almost 30 years and increased her involvement over the years by becoming an energetic and enthusiastic chapter leader. Corrine suggests that chapter leaders and those who want to be more involved should tap into their communities for support by forming relationships and educating others about AG Bell's mission from interested volunteers, companies and families. 

Corrine currently heads a recently-formed board committee dedicated to enhancing our organization's chapters. As part of this movement towards a more unified and closer-knit chapter system, we are adding a new e-blast called "Chapter Update," which will list all the upcoming events and accomplishments of our chapters from around the country. We've also discussed many other lines of communication that will be shared in the first editions of this e-blast.  

As a result of our discussions on the progress of AG Bell's newer chapters, we have developed a newly established outline for a "model" chapter. This model is intended to streamline the process for new chapters to build out their organizational structure and extend their ability to reach out to their local community as quickly as possible. The "model" chapter also serves as an ideal that current chapters can be adapted to more particularly address the needs of the chapter.

AG Bell New Jersey at a Chapter Service Session
Members of the AG Bell New Jersey chapter at a chapter
service session in Orlando, Florida

Sue will soon be reaching out to each chapter leader to connect on a more personal basis. She has spent much of her time as Chapter Advisor at AG Bell updating our records of current chapter information and will use the coming weeks to establish a closer link with our state chapters that goes beyond simple record keeping. The key, as I've gathered from many discussions with Sue, is to build a future for AG Bell's chapters that engenders a true symbiotic relationship.

We are moving towards a better future that will help all of us reach out and spread the word about listening and spoken language. You will see a more efficient AG Bell at both levels, with your local chapter and with our national office. Whether you are a parent of a deaf child, a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS®) fostering the development of listening and spoken language for young children, or a deaf or hard of hearing adult, remember to always keep Dr. Bell's passion for listening and spoken language in your hearts.

Until next week,

Emilio Alonso-Mendoza

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

- Helen Keller