... and from South Vietnam!
As programs go, FIRST YEARS is a small program. The entry requirements are high, and the courses are challenging. Certainly, our students are making a local difference, including and often introducing more auditory-verbal strategies in classroom and therapy settings. But the reach extends way beyond, as you will learn in this issue. For example:
Two of our students have been instrumental in getting legislation passed at the state level (Massachusetts and Indiana).So thank you, FIRST YEARS students, for being agents of change, for "paying it forward." Enjoy the issue!
FIRST YEARS Reunion: AG Bell Biennial Convention, June 28 - July 2, 2012
AG Bell's Biennial Convention was the occasion for an informal get-together for the FIRST YEARS "family." On Saturday afternoon, June 30, several of our current students, graduates, course instructors, and mentors gathered at the beautiful Rim Lobby Lounge to enjoy the amazing views, a few refreshments and the opportunity to make new and renew old acquaintances.
During the 2010 Convention, Debbie Ludwig (class of 2011) hosted a similar gathering at her parents' timeshare in Orlando. Those who attended immediately began asking if we could do the same during the 2012 Scottsdale meeting. Although the days and evenings were jam-packed with short courses, concurrent sessions, exhibits, and social events, we managed to carve out a short time for FIRST YEARS attendees to meet face-to-face. If the level of chatter, laughter, and smiles on faces was an indicator of enjoyment, then without a doubt a great time was had by all! Let's do it again in 2014!
Such a good-looking bunch.
Other occasions for celebration at the convention? Three of our graduates made presentations:
Paying it forward: Impacting State Legislature
Typically when we hear back from our students, we learn of successes fairly close to home, in transitioning their own, local therapy settings to include more auditory-verbal strategies. But two have recently reported their participation at the state level, helping to get hearing loss legislation passed.
Reported in a forum (5/20/11): "Some clever moms had scoured their insurance policies for what IS covered and revealed some fairly interesting facts, such as one woman can get her husband Viagra but can't obtain hearing aids for her child." One 10-year-old boy, whose sister is Tracy's patient, testified: "My sister is only 2 years old and I have already seen her go through so much in her short life. She deserves everything the same as I do being a hearing child. When I play with my sister, I know when she has her hearing aids in because she talks more and does better. I am her big brother and it is my job to protect my little sister. Please pass bill 52 for my sister."
The real driving force, according to Tracy, has been the Massachusetts Hearing Aids for Children Coalition (MassHAFCC), spearheaded by 7 mothers:
One of these women is a parent of a child on my caseload ... When I met the mom, her child was not wearing her hearing aids and she wasn't sure they even helped. We limped along a bit from the spring of 2010 to the Fall of 2010. During the Survey course Ellen [Thomas, co-instructor] suggested I sit down and review the family's goals and explain to them that I couldn't help them get there if the child wasn't going to wear her hearing aids. From that point on she kept the hearing aids on her daughter and now is one of the biggest driving forces behind the bill in Massachusetts to obtain hearing aids for all children through private insurance. Her connections and drive have really made a difference because I do believe this is the third attempt and the bill has never got as far as it is right now. People fully expect this bill to pass in July...we'll see!!!!! (5/22/12).We asked Tracy if the mother, Kim LaBrecque, would fill us in from her perspective (6/3/12):
Our daughter, Tia Shay LaBrecque (seen at right), was detected at birth as having a moderate flat 50 decibel bilateral sensorineural hearing loss through the Newborn Hearing Screenings which became a law in 1998. She did not wear her hearing aids well at first. She wanted to constantly take them out of her ears and teeth on them. It was exhausting! I felt almost like giving up and as she gets older then I will pursue it more. It was then that, Tracy Vale, Tia's speech pathologist said to me "If she takes them out 100 times. You need to put them back in 101." That statement stuck with me to this day. It was that moment that something inside me said, it really does make a difference and I need to comply with this. It's not up to her but it's up to us as parents. She now wears her hearing aids from the moment she wakes up until the second she goes to bed. She now asks for them and tells me that "it's better" with them on.In an update, Kim reports: "We believe we have the numbers back regarding the cost of the bill and are awaiting it's release, so that we can move this bill forward to the House and then Senate floor. We have [until the end of July] to get this done ... We are very excited and hopeful that THIS IS OUR YEAR !!!!!!!!" (6/13/12)
As Tracy suggested to her classmates: "If you don't have legislation like this in your state, consider getting a group together to work on it; it's been a rewarding experience!" (5/20/11).
To share with our readers, Kim has provided some of the materials she created, including a legislative fact sheet, flyer, and her testimony. She also consented to sharing her email, if you would like to contact her with specific questions (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thank you, Kim! We look forward to celebrating the bill's passage!
The bill passed both the House and Senate and, soon, Indiana will have a new, non-biased Center to "ensure that children who are deaf and children who are hard of hearing acquire optimal language skills and academic abilities, regardless of the mode of communication used." (OMB, 2012). Until the Center is fully established, the Indiana School for the Deaf will continue to provide services. The final transition plan is due in October, 2012.
Gayla Hutsell Guignard (faculty), EHDI Coordinator, is acting
as a consultant to the Office of Management & Budget on establishing
the new Center. Kathryn Wilson has also kept in touch with Naomi
Horton [Executive Director, Hear Indiana,
a chapter of AG Bell for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing] who by the way,
is a UNC alum. As Kathryn commented in a forum: " ...very proud of my Indiana
From FIRST YEARS Reference Library: The Spanish Project
Our culture's growing diversity, led by Hispanic populations, has implications for early intervention, particularly if English is not the primary language spoken in the home. Organizations, such as Beginnings for Parents of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, have begun addressing this need by adding Spanish-speaking outreach parent educators. In addition, many now provide full Spanish versions of their websites:
FIRST YEARS has recently joined in this trend, helping to make available Spanish versions of some of our teaching materials. "The Spanish Project" arose from an earlier project completed by Sherri Vernelson, co-instructor for Listening & Spoken Language Development & Intervention, and Emily Pratt (class of 2012). Together, they developed a data recording sheet to be used with our chart, "Bloom and Lahey's Normal Developmental Sequence of Expressive Language" -- both covered in our LSL course. Sherri shared the chart and recording sheet at a workshop, where they ultimately made their way to several Spanish-speaking AVTs. Their interest spawned the project, which is investigating translating the Bloom and Lahey categories and phases using Spanish grammatical structures, based on the natural and normal development of the Spanish language.
We thought you'd be interested in comparing the development of speech sounds in Spanish and English:
|As the translation proceeds, we will provide progress
reports on Bloom-Lahey: Secuencia del Desarrollo Normal de Lenguaje
Update: "Best Ideas"- donorschoose.org
In the last fyi edition we highlighted some resources for obtaining free books and reported strategies for acoustically retrofitting rooms. Ann Baumann (class of 2007) wrote in to tell us about another possible funding source (5/8/12):
A resource I used this year that may be relevant to people who work in the public schools is DonorsChoose.org. I took a "Tech in the Classroom" class this past fall and while they were encouraging us to seek out a variety of funding sources, one of the things we had to do was write a grant to this organization. You write what you need and various funding sources (corporations, foundations, individuals) find you instead of you finding them. Donors Choose was endorsed by Oprah (so there you go!) and Steven Cobert is on the board (a double whammy!). It was a very straightforward process and things moved quickly and cleanly.As Kathryn responded to Ann: "... you got it right when you said 'our grads/students say it best.'" (5/8/12)
Update: "Data to back it up!"
FIRST YEARS. (2012). Research Supporting Strong Oral Language and Vocabulary as Major Predictors of Reading, Literacy, and Academic Achievement. (Original compilation by Vernelson, S. & Wilson, K., 2011).
Update: Experience Book Club
As Dave describes his first encounter with experience books, "I was introduced to experience books by my friend Mary Koch. She showed me beautiful notebooks full of precious mementos, drawings and photos of her family and their experiences. It was created for her children at the time these experiences were happening ... Experience books are different than scrap books. A stick drawing here, a significant bandaid there: their beauty is in the relationship to the child's own experience ... [they] are better than store bought books. The story you read to your child is his own."
In previous fyi editions we highlighted two tools to create language experience books - Tar Heel Reader (spring 2010) and Tar Heel Player (spring 2011) - and even created an experience book ourselves, using sample pages from our students' books to illustrate how to use and create them. Check them out!
Names in the News
Upcoming workshops by our faculty and students
Now it's your turn!
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