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Nancy Hatfield

Nancy Hatfield, Director of Early Childhood at Washington Sensory Disabilities Services in Washington State, has devoted the past twenty years ensuring that children who are deaf or hard of hearing are identified as early as possible and that their families can access the supports and services they desire. For the past 13 years, Nancy has also been the co-Director of the Deaf Blind project in Washington. Nancy has been a leader in defining the path to more consistent statewide early intervention services for children who are deaf/hard of hearing or deaf/blind in Washington State. To each activity Nancy brings decades of direct experience with children and families, knowledge of a broad range of effective language and communication strategies, her intrepid skill for finding agreement among people with diverse ideologies, and her firm belief in the rights of children and families to participate in comprehensive family-centered services. Recognizing that comprehensive interconnected services are the products of nurtured relationships, Nancy established working relationships with EHDDI stakeholders in the state of Washington, county by county, across a large rural state, to help connect hospital screening programs with timely diagnosis and appropriate intervention systems. Nancy sought and obtained grants from the Washington Department of Health that enabled her to recruit specialists from across the state to help create county flow charts of services, establish local EHDI task forces, distribute training curriculum and coordinate early intervention efforts across geographical and philosophical barriers. As a result, children who are identified with hearing loss as a result of hospital-based screenings are now far more likely to be connected with the diagnostic and intervention services they need, even when they live in very rural parts of the state.

In addition to her long-term commitment to newborn hearing screening and follow-up, Nancy has been a key leader in establishing periodic early childhood hearing screening practices in Washington and nationally. Since 2001, Nancy has provided training and technical assistance, along with her colleagues, to over 140 early childhood health and education providers. Committed to serving the most vulnerable children, Nancy was one of the first to volunteer to develop pilot sites for the now well-established Early Childhood Hearing Outreach (ECHO) Initiative at NCHAM. For more than 12 years, Nancy has served as the primary resource for Early Head Start, American Indian Head Start and Migrant Head Start programs in her state to whom she has provided training and technical assistance in developing periodic early childhood hearing screening programs, often in very rural, difficult-access areas of Washington. As one of the long-term collaborators of the ECHO Initiative, Nancy has participated in a broad range of development and expansion activities that has lead to the development of similar outreach activities in other states and the provision of periodic early childhood hearing screening services for over 100,000 underserved children served by Early Head Start across the country.