Guide By Your Side

Mathews CountyVirginia Guide By Your Side Program

Guide By Your Side (GBYS) is a trademarked parent to parent program of Hands & Voices that provides emotional support and unbiased information to families of infant and young children who are diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing through screened and trained Family Navigators. In Virginia, the GBYS program is funded by the Virginia Department of Health’s Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program and coordinated by the Partnership’s Family to Family Network of Virginia.

The day parents learn that their child is deaf or hard of hearing is a day they will probably never forget. It is also the beginning of a journey of discovery. They are not alone in this journey. There are parents and professionals who will support them and share experiences and insights along the way.

The parents’ job is to make decisions that are right for their child and family. They are in the best position to advocate for their child. Services and the professionals who provide them will change throughout the child’s life, but the parents will remain the constant in his/her life.

During a GBYS parent match, an experienced parent (called a Family Guide or Navigator) will provide timely, unbiased and complete information about communication methods, support groups, early intervention and special education services, and financial sources; the skills to be an effective advocate; and support to navigate the systems that are there to serve children and families.

To be matched with a GBYS Family Guide/Navigator, to make a referral, or to request an application to volunteer as a GBYS Family Guide/Navigator, please call or email Irene Schmalz at (877) 567-1122 or

Virginia’s Resource Guide for Families of Children with Hearing Loss (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

GBYS Brochure (Adobe Acrobat PDF)index3