Keynote Speaker

Djenne-Amal N. Morris

Djenne-amal N. Morris, BA, brings passion, humor and real life experience to her role as a national and international parent / professional trainer, facilitator and motivational speaker who views of the world not as it is, but as it could be. As a mother of an amazing son with CHARGE Syndrome, she strives to build an atmosphere of support and empowerment for families of children with special needs and the professionals who serve them.

This has led to her career working with families of children with special needs in various roles as a Women's Ministry Leader, Family Specialist for the New England and North Carolina Deaf-Blind Projects, Parent Educator / Training Coordinator a Beginnings for Parents of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing and current President of the Board of Directors for Hands & Voices National Headquarters. She is also the Multicultural Faculty Advisor for the NC-LEND program at Chapel Hill.  Djenne and her husband provide consulting, training, workshops and coaching to families and professionals in the area of family dynamics and special needs.

She lives in Knightdale, N.C. with her husband Michael, their 3 children, a cat and dog. Her son Malik, 22, is a recent graduate from the Eastern North Carolina School for Deaf and is living his best life in his new group home. Imani, 23, lives in Austin, Texas. Her youngest, Zakiya, 17, is a high school senior.  Djenne is an avid reader, yogi, and a newly published author: The Art of Collaboration: Lessons from Families of Children with Disabilities.

Keynote Presentation

Navigating the Game of Life:Djenne-Amal Morris

Life is a journey. Life raising a child who is DHH is an extra special one. It requires different sets of skills to navigate through various terrains; medical, educational, family dynamics, and personal adjustments.  Through real and raw life examples as a parent of a child with Charge Syndrome and a professional, Djenne will share lessons learned along her journey. In addition, she will discuss the tools and strategies necessary to successfully navigate this game of life!


Facilitated Discussions


Adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Share Experiences

Throughout the day, parents can learn from individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing as they share experiences in life and about their preferred communication mode or language.  We will cover Listening and Spoken Language, American Sign Language, Cued Speech and Total Communication. Learn strategies and resource for how your family can strengthen your use of your child's communication mode, or learn about a new one.

Hop in the Driver's Seat, and get your questions answered

Instead of spinning the game spinner and hoping for the best, grab the steering wheel and get ready to drive!  Sprinkled throughout the day of parent activites, you will have chances to ask your burning questions about supporting your child/children. The answers may be just what you need to move your family to the next spot on the game-board of life.

Lunch & Learn: Connect Parent to parent

The lunch period is a great time to connect to other parents and ask questions or share stories. Check the table numbers to find other parents from your county, or mingle with parents from all accross the state of Michigan.

Afternoon Facilitated Group Discussions

Choose from 4 facilitated group discussions during our afternoon breakout sessions.  These sessions will include experienced parents, professionals in the field, and adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. All sessions are appropriate for all communication modes.


Breakout Sessions


Life from a DHH Plus Perspective: Djenne-Amal Morris

Having a child who Deaf or Hard of Hearing Plus simply means they may have an additional medical or developmental diagnosis.  But is it really that simple to navigate? This workshop will explore the many nuances a family faces when their child is DHH with additional disabilities.  Join us if you are a parent looking for your tribe.


Getting started on your first "turn" - Transitioning from IFSP to IEP

Facilitated by Amanda Schneider, Parent and Coordinator of Guide By Your Side program, Michigan Hands & Voices

In the 9-12 months prior to a child's third birthday, there a steps to take to get him of her ready for the transition from an individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This includes moving from a "family-centered" model to a "student-centered" model of services. We will discuss how parents can prepare for decision-making through this transition period, which includes eligibility, communucation choices, availability of services, and student needs in a classroom setting.


How to win at the game when your child's needs don't stand out

Facilitated by Kristin Knight, GIRESD Deaf Education/Hard of Hearing

Children who are successful language users may seem to outsiders to get along fine at school and in many situations. In fact, they could still need specialized accessibility tools, support, and/or resources to help them have full access to communication, and reach their full potential. Learn from the perspectives of professionals, adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, parents of older children, and attending parents as we gather the wisdom amoung us to help you make sure all of your bases are covered.


Transition to adulthood and advocacy throughout the years

Facilitated by Janel Frost, Parent and Executive Director, Michigan Hands & Voices

Planning for transition out of school and into the real world starts much earlier than you think - from before middle school! Learn how to coach your child through his or her own customized transition planning module. Our goal is to help our children reach their full potential, be independent and employable. Guides and modules will support the discussion.