Tampa Law Firm’s Nikki Barker Promotes the Message of Ava’s Voice

Class of students group photo and student bake sale simulating visual impairment

MLG’s Nikki Barker proudly serves as a member of the board Ava’s Voice. A non-profit organization, Ava’s Voice provides resources and services to families affected by hearing and vision loss.

Ava was born profoundly deaf and is losing her eyesight. She utilizes aids, such as her cochlear implants, a cane, and communication through the tactile ASL alphabet and touch signals. Now 11-years-old, Ava enjoys sharing her story to advocate for children with hearing and vision loss and meeting parents of newly diagnosed babies to help provide them with comfort and hope.

In March, Nikki, daughter Elle, cousins Carly and Ava, and dear friend Rebecca visited Public School 183 in Manhattan to share with students what life is like for those who are affected by vision and hearing loss. Ava and Rebecca shared their stories of how they navigate daily challenges while living with Usher Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes both hearing and vision loss.

Students participated in an activity challenge which simulated vision loss. In addition, they learned about American Sign Language (ASL) and the art of tactile signing that is utilized by individuals who are both and deaf and blind.

Nikki collaborated with PS183’s PTA to organize a Social Action Day, where 3rd-grade students led a community service project to raise awareness about Usher Syndrome. The students baked cupcakes and hosted a cupcake stand. It included a simulation of decorating cupcakes while visually impaired. It was a fun and enlightening event, and the 3rd graders did an amazing job!

The activity reflected part of Ava’s Voice mission to advance the understanding of hearing and vision loss through education. When Ava received her diagnosis, her family was overwhelmed by the support they received from family, friends, and their community. This outpour of love and encouragement gave them the desire to pay it forward — and MLG’s Nikki Barker is honored to play a special role in this life-changing organization.

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