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Joan Cassidy Retires 

After 18 years as NVRC’s Loudoun County Outreach Contractor, Joan Cassidy has retired.  Most everyone in our community knows Joan and has had the chance to chat with her at our Annual Meetings and other community events, especially Celebrate Communication where she is famous for her beautiful display of Joan’s Knitted Dolls.

Joan was born in Yorkshire, England and her family moved to Port Elizabeth, South Africa when she was 10.  It was in Port Elizabeth where Joan met a dashing young American, Neil Cassidy.  While Neil served in the US Army, they lived in Stuttgart, Germany, then came to the States in the 1960s, spending time in Ohio and Michigan.  Joan and Neil moved to their current home in Sterling, Virginia in 1976, where they raised their two children.  She and Neil are avid lovers of cruising – having cruised all over the world! – and Joan loves to watch her British TV shows while she knits her amazing creations.

Joan learned that she had a hearing loss when she was 18 years old but it was a few years before she started wearing hearing aids.  Joan eventually got a Cochlear Implant in 1998, the same year she began contracting with NVRC, and she used her personal experiences with hearing loss to help thousands of Loudoun County residents by giving them information and encouragement, mentoring, introducing them to hearing assistive technologies, bringing them to NVRC to visit our demo room and learn about all the help available.  Joan represented NVRC at many meetings of the County’s Board of Supervisors during the annual budget hearings, advocating for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and securing additional funding for NVRC.  She was the go-to expert at senior centers, retirement communities, libraries, and health fairs, sharing NVRC’s mission with everyone she served.

We will miss Joan more than we can say, but she promises to visit NVRC often and visit old friends at our upcoming Annual Meeting, and – we hope! – bring her knitted dolls to Celebrate Communication next year.  So many of us have one of her treasures!  We thank Joan for her years of dedicated service, and we wish her many happy and healthy years in her well-earned retirement.


Hamilton Relay is currently seeking an outstanding candidate to fill the position of “District of Columbia Relay Outreach Coordinator – Part Time”.  Below is a link to the job posting and on-line application.  Please feel free to share this with anyone that may be interested.

District of Columbia Relay Outreach Coordinator - Part Time


Celebrate Communication 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013, 10 AM to 3 PM

George Mason University,
4373 Mason Pond Drive, Fairfax, VA

Informational Exhibits • Technology Demonstrations • Children's Activities  • Local ResourcesFree Hearing Screenings • Crafts • Prizes and More!
Now in Our 11th Year  - Free Admission  • 703-352-9055V  • 703-352-9056 TTY  •

NVRC-blue-300x300 kihd_logo_standalone GMU Lions_International

Brought to you by: the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), the Helen A. Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities (KIHD), Lions International and George Mason University. Publicity courtesy of Virginia Relay.

By Bonnie O’Leary, NVRC Director of Community Outreach Programs, 1/23/2013

Mike DeFries, NVRC’s dear friend and supporter, passed away on Monday, January 14th after a long illness.  We first met Mike in 2006 when he attended my “Coping with Hearing Loss” series at a community near his home.  As a senior who was experiencing hearing loss, he was intrigued with the content of the sessions, and came to NVRC to meet the staff and learn about the scope of our services.

Mike wanted to create a project in memory of his mother, Grace Abelson DeFries, who developed late-onset hearing loss in her 70s.  A life that was once vibrant with activities became one of solitude and isolation until Grace’s death at the age of 95.

Mike DeFries
Myron (Mike) DeFries, 1923-2013

After meeting with other members of the staff and learning more about NVRC, Mike wrote “this was the place to carry out a project….in memory of my mother.  As the project began to solidify, we formulated its goals, namely to provide a guide to assist older people encountering increasing difficulties with hearing loss by relating experiences of others, and how they coped with their personal problems.  As a secondary objective, we would present information about technology for enhancing hearing and for other techniques enhancing lifestyle in a readable, non-pedantic, non-threatening style – all sprinkled generously with humor.”

Mike’s concept, and his substantial funding for the project, became the launch pad for NVRC’s “I Can’t Hear You!” (ICHY) series and the free booklet that accompanies the program.  For almost three years, he guided the editorial process of the booklet from start to finish, chapter and verse.  “This page is too serious, put in a cartoon!”

As the booklet took shape, Mike generously provided us with editorial luncheon feasts at his home on Lake Barcroft. Having learned that my late mother was Russian, he often made “Mike’s Special Borscht” for us to sip by the water’s edge; I confess to consuming the lion’s share. Two of his daughters, Diane and Vicki, often joined us for edit sessions and offered more excellent ideas as well as enthusiasm and encouragement.

...continue reading "Remembering Mike DeFries"

NVRC Fact Sheets are downloadable PDF documents. 

Hearing Loss

Hearing Aids

Caregivers and Parent Resources

Hearing Dogs

Cochlear Implants

Assistive Listening Devices and Technology

How to File a Closed Captioned Complaint

Interpreters and Transliterators

The following Tip Sheets are from the ADA Information Center:
  and the DOJ's ADA website:

The following Standard Practice Papers are from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID):

Technology Fact Sheets


  •  Ameriphone VCO
  • CapTel Phone
  • Clarity Cordless Phones
  • Crystal Tone Phone

Signaling Devices

  • Alert Master Combination 
  • Baby Crying Signaler
  • Ringmax Amplified Ringer
  • Shake Awake Vibrating Alarm Clock
  • Smoke Alarms
  • Sonic Alert Door Bell Signaler
  • Sonic Boom Alarm Clock and Bed Shaker


  •  In-Line Amplifier for Phones
  • Portable Telephone Amplifiers
  • UniVox 2A+ Home Cushion Loop Amplifier 
  • PockeTalker

Music and Television

  • Music Link
  • Music Link Dual
  • Neck Loop and T-Links
  • Television Devices

TTY Devices

  • TTY Ultratec Superprint
  • Uniphone TTY and Amplified Phone

Loan2Own Program


By Bonnie O'Leary  6/28/11 

It was a pleasure to stop by the Peer Mentoring Program exhibit and chat with Matt Bakke and Kaitie DeFonzo.  Dr. Bakke helped develop the program which started in 2005, and I was fortunate to be in the first group of students who were certified in June of 2007.  Kaitie is helping to teach the program while studying towards her Au.D.

The Peer Mentor program is training its fifth group of students, and is now recruiting twelve new students for the 2013 class.    A peer mentor is “an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and trained to work with other individuals with hearing loss in need of support, information, teaching, and/or advocacy, in order to live their life with hearing loss as seamlessly as possible.” 

Students who are accepted complete a 2-year distance-learning certification program and will be trained in 1) information-sharing, 2) provision of support, empathy, and validation, 3) identification of consumer needs, 4) problem-solving, 5) establishment of goals and objectives for improved quality of life and 6) needs assessment for the applicability of assistive hearing technology. 

Program graduates receive a Peer Mentoring Certificate from Gallaudet University under the College of Professional Studies and Outreach.

Costs and curriculum
Currently, students pay $30.00 per semester for 6 semesters, and they must also pay for their travel and lodging.  There are two visits to Gallaudet – the first for new student orientation, and the final visit at the end of the program for the certification itself. 

Students will earn 16 credits over the two years.  After the opening seminar at Gallaudet, which is worth one credit, the semester courses are: Hearing Loss in America: An Overview, Biopsychosocial Aspects of Hearing Loss (this was my favorite!), Practical Audiology: Fundamentals for Consumers, Hearing Assistive Technology, Peer Mentoring for Hearing Loss, and the Final Seminar: Applications of Peer Mentoring.  Dr. Bakke told me they are currently reviewing the curriculum to provide more opportunities for hands on instruction, especially in the audiology segment where they are hoping to have the students actually give each other hearing tests. 

The peer mentor training that I received has been a huge asset to my own outreach work for NVRC.  If you are interested in learning more about Gallaudet’s Peer Mentor Certification Training or would like to apply for the upcoming class, contact Matt Bakke at

Gallaudet Peer Mentoring Certification Program