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Greetings from FIRST YEARS!
by Kathryn Wilson, M.A., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT (
FIRST YEARS Program Director

As I write this message, I am reminded that it has been a very busy - and might I add -  "hot" summer here in North Carolina.  I hope that you are enjoying some time this summer to do the things you find most enjoyable as we look toward fall.  Speaking of fall, we have a new class of 16 professionals who are about to begin their FIRST YEARS journey.  It is my pleasure to welcome this new group!

In this edition of fyi, we congratulate our new graduates and those who have achieved the LSLS credential.  You will find news about a gathering of  FIRST YEARS  folks at the AG Bell Convention.  Finally, in Part 3 of the FIRST YEARS Mentorship Experience, you will hear from Dr. Nancy McIntosh, who shares her very personal story and views about listening and spoken language as a bi-lateral cochlear implant user.  Enjoy!

Congratulations to our 2010 graduates!
Job well done!
  1. Ball, Sheralyn, MAT, CED - NJ
  2. Blumberg, Emily, MS Sp., CCC-SLP, CEIS - MA
  3. Croak, Tammy, MS, CCC-SLP - NJ
  4. Edwards, Carrie, BS Sp. Ed.,  MA Deaf Ed.- IN
  5. Grande, Marisa, B.A. Sp. Hearing, M.A. SLP, CCC-SLP - OH 
  1. Janelle, Cathy, MS, CCC-SLP -  ME
  2. Leipow, Nichole, B.S. Aud./SLP, M.E.D. - MA 
  3. Provensal, Sherauna, M.A. Ed.  - CA 
  4. Rakers, Jennifer - MSLP, CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVEd. - PA 
  5. Watson, Nancy, MS Sp. Hearing  Sci., CCC-A - WA

And more congratulations!
Congratulations to Michelle Parfitt (class of 2007),  Kristin Froehlich (2009), and Jennifer Rakers (2010), our FIRST YEARS graduates who have recently received the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS) credential. We are very proud that FIRST YEARS played a key role in preparing them to meet this goal.

FIRST YEARS Reunion: AG Bell Biennial Convention, June 24 - 28, 2010

Last fall, "Dr. Don" Goldberg began encouraging the students in his class to attend the 2010 AG Bell Convention in Orlando.  From that point, the students began talking about meeting one another in person and eventually an official "get-together" was in the works.  On Sunday afternoon during the convention, several students, graduates, course instructors, and mentors gathered at the Wyndham Bonnet Creek to enjoy a few refreshments and an opportunity to make new acquaintances.  Thanks to Dr. Don for the idea and a very special "thank-you" to FIRST YEARS student, Debbie Ludwig (class of 2011) who hosted us at her family's condo. As Mary Smith-Johnson (class of 2007) wrote ...

"It was so gratifying to visit with the young and senior FY students who have that look of pride in what FIRST YEARS and UNC have given them. I try to pay this gift forward in my region by speaking up and sharing my confidence, knowledge and tools."
   -- Mary Smith-Johnson
Thank you, FIRST YEARS students, for paying it forward.

The gang's all here ...
The gang's all here
Front Row 1 (L-R): Ali Loeb (class of 2009), Rachel Skergan (FIRST YEARS' favorite girl!), Mary Smith-Johnson (2007), Sherri Fickenscher (2007), Mélissa LeBlanc (2011), Jennifer Rakers (2010), Kristi Straub (2010), Debbie Ludwig (2011)
Row 2:  Nicole Petrella (2009), Cara Kaiser*, Ann Vaubel (2006), Sherri Vernelson (faculty), Carolyn Brown (faculty), Sandy Robinson*, Chris Barton (2011), Nancy Watson (kneeling, 2010), Nancy Schumann*, Don Goldberg (faculty)
Row 3:  Kathryn Wilson (program director), Natalie Skergan (guest forum mentor), Amy Lalios*, Ellen Thomas*, Teresa Caraway*, Shana Lucius (2011), Amy Miller (2011), Kim Hamren

*Mentor at one of the FIRST YEARS mentoring sites.

An Insider's View: The FIRST YEARS Mentorship Experience, part 3 - Guest Forum Mentors
In a recent forum posting, a student asked a bilateral cochlear implant user who was guest-mentoring in the course: "I have been interested in issues related to cochlear implants when they go wrong, get zapped, etc.  I have had students tell me that they sense a pulling, tingling, and various sensations.  Can you describe at all how those sensations feel?  Can you compare them to any other sensations we might be able to understand?" (Dara Breitkopf, class of 2011).

Her response: "Let's see ... the transient sound I was hearing the other day was like the 'noik' sound that comes from a person who 'clicks' their tongue on the roof of their mouth while making an elongated 'O' with their lips and then thumping the bottom of their chin.  Know anyone who does that?  It's supposed to sound like a rain drop, I think.  It sounded like that but a much shorter duration.  I had a bad microphone. I once sat down to a computer and heard 'thump, teeng' as the processor died in an electro-static discharge …"  Continuing in another posting about experiencing music as a CI user: "Every time I use the direct connect I get tickled by the fact that I am listening to music that 'doesn't exist.'  Digital signal to digital signal and in my head it's music."

These forum postings, offering unique perspectives into the world of CI users for our students, were posted by Nancy McIntosh, AuD.  Nancy joins Natalie Skergan, mother of Rachel Skergan (another bilateral CI user), as guest forum mentors in our course on Audiology Interpretation and Hearing Technologies, co-facilitated by Holly Teagle (AuD) and Heather Porter (AuD). 

In part 1, we heard from Kim Hamren (M.Ed, CED, LSLS Cert. AVT), a FIRST YEARS mentor at Listen and Talk. In part 2, we continued the "Insider's View" from the other side, from a student who completed the mentored practicum with Kim, Susan Ericksen (MS Aural Rehab, class of 2009). Here, we conclude our series with Nancy McIntosh's thoughts on her participation as a guest mentor in FIRST YEARS courses.

Check it out– Nancy McIntosh: Nancy's story
– Rachel and Natalie Skergan: Rachel's story

Guest Forum Mentoring: Crossing the Line

Nancy McIntosh Nancy McIntosh, AuD. (
Seattle, WA

For the past five years, spring has come to mean not only the anticipation of longer, warmer days, but also the pleasure of participating in FIRST YEARS as a guest mentor.  When Holly first asked me to join the discussion for her Cochlear Implant section of the course, I agreed knowing I could bring a unique point of view to the table. After all, I have gone from hearing to hard-of-hearing to deaf to Deaf to a cochlear implant user to an audiologist with bilateral cochlear implants! 

But I had some misgivings. Knowing me, knowing my background and given the listening and spoken language emphasis in FIRST YEARS, I wondered if Holly was throwing me into a "pack of wolves."  Wolves?

When I first began to learn to sign and to become involved with the Deaf community, I learned rather quickly they had drawn a line between them and some of the professionals who served them.  And that line appeared impossible to cross. The Deaf Culture model of deafness was one I absorbed and supported for years as the appropriate model.  After receiving my first implant and doing well with it, however, I gained back a perspective that I had lost as a person at ease among signers and ill-at-ease with hearing people communicating orally.  With that first implant, I was rather suddenly able to move within both communities with ease. What I had learned through my Deaf experience was challenged in a profound way.  Then, as I began studying audiology and began working as a professional, I realized it wasn't just the Deaf community that was drawing that line.  I have actually been playfully "hit" for absentmindedly signing to a child in front of his Auditory-Verbal Therapist! 

Now I'll be first to discuss the merits of listening and spoken language and the miracles CIs can create; but despite these wonderful tools, there is no cure for deafness and I like to keep reminding people of that and that doesn't sit well with many.  As someone who has crossed the line, both personally and professionally, I see auditory verbal approach as one of the options, not the only one. I admire, commend and support the Auditory-Verbal approach - for the right kid and the right family!**

As I approached that first semester, I wondered if I would encounter an "auditory-verbal community" advocating zero tolerance for any therapy tools, under any circumstances, which happened not to adhere to their philosophy.  I wondered if I would encounter "the wolves." I decided to present my point of view as my point of view, realizing that there probably aren't a whole lot of people who have lived as I have and that generalizing my experience might be "tricky business."  I hoped they would understand that there are other options. 

What I discovered in FIRST YEARS  - and what brings me back year after year -  is seeing professionals out there with the desire to take whatever they've been taught and challenge it.   I absolutely love it when students in this course present an issue with a child, a child who doesn't seem to fit neatly into a category, and they offer advice to each other that doesn't come from one side of the line or the other.  Through their discussion, they find a solution together, collectively bringing their own experiences to create something unique that is best for that child.  I feel honored and privileged to participate in these kinds of discussions.  My desire is that through education and experience, we'll all come to realize that the "uncrossable" line isn't necessary.  We do not live in mutually exclusive worlds. That every child, every family is unique and their solution does not come neatly pre-packaged. 

As I  write my impressions of having participated in FIRST YEARS for the past several years, I have just learned that my 7-year-old grand-niece has been diagnosed with hearing loss and will soon be fitted with hearing aids. This bit of information has changed my perspective and my message seems all the more important to share with professionals who will be working with families such as my nephew's and his daughter. 

As my grand-niece enters into the caseload of Deaf Educators, Speech Pathologists and Audiologists, I hope she encounters professionals such as those who participate in FIRST YEARS. Professionals who will look at her as an individual, professionals who will take the time to discuss her individual needs, professionals who seek advice and create an environment for her that empowers her regardless of which side of the line they've come from.

** FIRST YEARS stresses the professional responsibility 1) to ensure parents are aware of all communication options, 2) to respect those decisions,  3) to seek out and supply unbiased, accurate information and resources tailored to the parents' goals, and 4) to empower the parents as the first-line in intervention. As we say: "Intervention cannot succeed without involving and educating the parents/caregivers. Again: Success depends on them, not us."

The best ideas …
 …  come from our students.

One reality for all of us working in contemporary American society is diversity. Socio-economic levels, educational levels, family values, cultural traditions, religion, country of origin -- such differences create complexities for family-centered service and service providers.

FIRST YEARS addresses this reality from the start, directing students throughout the program to resources such as the CIRRIE: Monograph Series - The Rehabilitation Provider's Guide to Cultures of the Foreign-Born, the multi-language correspondence courses for parents from the John Tracy Clinic (, and to My Baby's Hearing and Beginnings for Parents of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, both of which now provide full Spanish versions of their websites.

In Spanish:
 - Beginnings
 - My Baby's Hearing

Nichole Leipow (class of 2010) offered this tech tip to cope with the challenge of communicating with parents who may not speak English: "Many organizations are fortunate to have fluent Spanish speakers onsite who are happy to write notes or call families for you. But when they are not available, there are several free online translation websites you can choose. You can copy-paste your note to the parent/caregiver into the translator. The result may not be a 'perfect' translation, but it allows you to communicate with parents you might otherwise not be able to communicate with."

great ideaWorld Lingo: Free Online Language Translator Language Translation

From the FIRST YEARS Reference Library
FIRST YEARS is always changing, adapting course content with each offering to accommodate new technologies and changes related to practice. For example, we have just completed a major revision of our first course, Special Topics in Speech and Hearing: A Survey. We'll be talking more about these changes in the fall edition of fyi. Until then, we offer a preview of some of our "handouts" used in the Survey, with an accompanying "test yourself" exercise. 

Check it outFIRST YEARS: Erber's Hierarchy of Sound Perception Skills and Hierarchy of Listening Skills: A Continuum <self-test>
As usual for all the FIRST YEARS reference publications, feel free to use them – and share them.

Names in the News
Congratulations "Dr. Don"

Donald Goldberg, Ph.D., CCC-SLP/A, FAAA, LSLS Cert. AVT, was recently selected by the AG Bell Board of Directors as the association's President-Elect for the 2010-2012 term. Dr. Goldberg also serves on the Board of the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language, having served as President of the Academy from 2008-2010; co-directs the Hearing Implant Program at the Cleveland Clinic; facilitates our first course Special Topics in Speech and Hearing: A Survey; has recently joined the faculty of  The College of Wooster as a Full Professor – and still finds time for his new granddaughter Sarah Jaelle!
Recent publications by FIRST YEARS faculty and students
  1. Barton, C. (April 2010). Music, Spoken Language, and Children with Hearing Loss: Definitions and Development. Retrieved from Speech <part 1, approved for ASHA CEUs>
  2. Barton, C. (May 2010). Music, Spoken Language, and Children with Hearing Loss: Using Music to Develop Spoken Language. Retrieved from Speech <part 2, approved for ASHA CEUs>
  3. Paterson, M.M. &  Cole, E. The University of Hartford and CREC Soundbridge: A New Master’s of Education in Aural Habilitation and Education of Hearing Impaired Children. The Volta Review, 110 (2), 279–291.
  4. Goldberg, D.M., Cheryl L. Dickson, C.L., & Flexer, C.  AG Bell Academy Certification Program for Listening and Spoken Language Specialists: Meeting a World-Wide Need for Qualified Professionals. The Volta Review, 110 (2), 129-143.
  5. Teagle, H.F.B. and Eskridge, H. (2010).  Predictors of success for children with cochlear implants:  The impact of individual differences. In A.Weiss (Ed.). Perspectives on Individual Differences Affecting Therapeutic Change in Communication Disorders.  New York: Taylor & Francis/Psychology Press.
  6. Wilson, K., Nevins, M.E., Houston, K.T. (2010). Professional development for in-service practitioners serving children who are deaf and hard of hearing. The Volta Review, 110 (2), 231-247.
Finally, we highlighted Lyn Robertson's new text Literacy and Deafness: Listening and Spoken Language in our last issue on literacy. It was reviewed in a recent issue of The Volta Review.
  1. Keenan, S. (2010). Literacy and Deafness: Listening and Spoken Language (Review).  The Volta Review, 109(1), 47-49.
The reviewer's summarizing comment: "Literacy and Deafness: Listening and Spoken Language provides well-grounded substantiation for the author's premise that listening and speaking provide a path to literacy, and is a valuable resource for both caregivers and those charged with the education of children who are deaf and hard of hearing and who use listening and spoken language." (Keenan, 2010, p. 49)

Dr. Robertson teaches our final certificate course, Literacy Development in Young Children with Hearing Loss.

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© 2010, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill FIRST YEARS Certificate in Auditory Learning for Young Children with Hearing Loss. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in any medium for non-commercial purposes.
Publication date: August, 2010