Groups that serve the deaf and hard of hearing across Idaho have displays in the 4th floor rotunda of the state Capitol until noon today as part of a legislative breakfast sponsored by the state Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Steven Snow, executive director of the council, said there's been an encouraging turnout today, with at least 20 legislators stopping by to visit and see the displays. "We have 150,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in our state," Snow said through a sign-language interpreter. "We are typically the invisible disabled - unless you see hearing aids, you wouldn't know that I was deaf."
Groups represented include Elks Hearing and Balance Center, Caption Call, Idaho Association of the Deaf, Idaho Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the Living Independence Network Corp., and Hands and Voices, a support group for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Lorna Irwin, a volunteer and secretary for Hands and Voices, said when parents have a deaf or hard of hearing child, "It just happens to them. Most of us are hearing So we're kind of lost in the beginning." Her group supports families "regardless of what their choices are, as far as communicating with their children," she said. "Time was, you joined the sign language camp or the oral camp." Now, she said, "The child leads the way. It's communication that's important."