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

"Fall semester is like a box of chocolates" ( ... or Forrest Gump said something like that.) "You never know what you're gonna get."

For this past fall semester, let's just sum it up by saying, "We survived!" Two new computer systems "delighted" our new cohort and the FIRST YEARS graduates who joined the full LSL course, not to mention all of us on the homefront. What were these systems? A cantankerous email system (HIPPA-compliant Exchange) and Sakai - the new course management system.  Email after email flew furiously across campus; we eventually memorized the UNC IT Help Desk number (919-962-HELP!!!!); and we got to "meet" all sorts of databases in all sorts of departments.

And then Hurricane Sandy hit.

But in the end, with all of us a bit helpdesk-worn and weather-worn, "We survived!"

So for this issue, we figure we needed some lighter moments - some "best ideas" from our "always-the-best" students, some exciting paying-it-forward news, a "unit giggle" - and a welcome and a fond farewell!

Enjoy the newsletter and Happy 2013 to all!

Joining the FIRST YEARS Faculty 
Lisa ParkThis spring Lisa Park (Au.D., CCC-A) has joined Heather Porter (Au.D., Ph.D.) as co-facilitator for our second course, Audiology Interpretation and Hearing Technologies. Lisa  has been working with cochlear implants since 2002.  As an audiologist with the UNC pediatric implant team, she provides services to children who are deaf and hard of hearing throughout the state.  Prior to coming to UNC, Lisa worked with children at the Clarke School for Hearing and Speech.  Her research interests include bimodal listening, auditory neuropathy, and speech perception.

Welcome, Lisa!

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu
So begins the lyrics in a song in the Sound of Music. The Von Trapp children sing it as they head off to bed. [Gretl singing:] "The sun has gone to bed and so must I." <lyrics, youtube video>

After so many years with FIRST YEARS, it is time - not for bed - but for retirement! I will be joining the ranks of the retired state employees on February 1. Such a journey I have been on ... teaching programming for many years at various colleges, then as online distance learning became possible, setting up various programs at universities. My favorite program? By far, FIRST YEARS!

I cannot express how blessed I have felt to be part of this program. Most of the time, I am not seen; I lurk behind-the-scenes. But I am there, learning from you, witnessing your accomplishments, cheering you on. FIRST YEARS is a small program as programs go, but its impact has been amazing.  You all make true miracles happen out there.

Thank you so much for blessing my life. And, Kathryn, you are the best!

[Kurt singing:] "I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye."
And so do I.

My best to you in the future. Continue making miracles!
Lane Rose
FIRST YEARS Course designer/manager, Webmaster, Help Desk, Cheerleader

Some Miracles: Paying it forward 

New Program: Early Childhood Classroom for Audition and Spoken Language
Tracy Vale (class of 2012) writes of a new program she and another therapist are setting up in Freetown, Massachusetts - the first of its kind in the area. She writes (1/13/13):
Well, since my FIRST YEARS training, a lot has happened and it is entirely due to the knowledge I gained from all of my classes.  On January 28th a teacher of the deaf who is trained in oral strategies (Clarke School trained) and myself are opening the first oral classroom located in a public school in our area!!!!  We will be taking preschoolers and finding a nice blend of mainstream time as well as time to work on the skills they need to succeed down in our classroom.  I am really excited about this.  We have our first 2 students ready to start and word is already spreading quickly about this great opportunity to have the best of both worlds.  Our hope is to send these babies back to their town ready to hit the ground running for kindergarten.  If some will not be ready, we have already started the discussions to add a kindergarten component to our program.  In oral states, I'm sure this is just the norm but up here in Massachusetts, this is a major development!!!!!

[The program] will be located in a pre-k thru 3rd grade building ... and for now we are calling it "The Early Childhood Classroom for Audition and Spoken Language".  We are planning to come up with a better name.  For now, we just want to get off the ground and get through June. :-)  The teacher is [a literacy specialist, who has worked with us before]) ...  I am the SLP for the program and we have a teacher aide with a communication disorders background.  We are running Monday-Thursday mornings for 4 hours/day.  We are planning to go down to the public preschool for many activities and also invite a few at a time to our room for some language activities.  We want to be able to control the noise level the best we can ... Our board of directors is very excited about this new venture!  Our director has been with us for about 1 1/2 years (SLP, Ph.D) and she has wondered why we only offer services to children choosing sign language. She was fully behind the idea to open an oral classroom!

Congratulations, Tracy! 
Let New York Hear
In past issues we have highlighted programs and projects our students have spearheaded - implementing teletherapy, helping to get new legistation passed in two states, participating in a Spanish project, to name just a few.
Dara Breitkopf  (class of 2011) has informed us that she is starting group initiative to help children who need hearing aids in the state of New York. She writes (1/12/13): "Many New York families are unable to provide hearing aids for their children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in order to improve access for their children’s communication. Hearing aids can cost as much as $6,000 per pair and must be replaced every 3-5 years. This is the equivalent of roughly $42,000 per child who requires hearing aids before they reach the age of 21 – a hardship for any New York family regardless of household income. As of 2012, 20 other states have passed legislation requiring insurance companies to cover hearing aids for children. We want New York to be the next state to take this important step!"

The link to the Facebook group is:

Tracy Vale (class of 2012) had some advice for Dara - and for others of you who might want to join the "fun" (1/12/13): "Good luck to you, it was a long haul here in Massachusetts, but a group of moms did it and our law was official 1/1/13.  You might want to contact the people at the following group  I know they learned lots along the way but they learned more AFTER!!!!!   One important piece we learned after the bill passed was that the insurance companies (in Massachusetts) only have to offer the coverage when each individual's plan is up for renewal.  Knowing the bill was expected to pass, many families waited to get new hearing aids.  Unfortunately some of those families have plans that renew later in the year and they aren't covered until then!"

For those of you in New York, if you know of a family that might be interested in this cause, please pass the word along! Contact Dara

The best ideas …
… come from our students.

Family Owned FM Systems

Tracy Vale (class of 2012) sent out a call for help on the FIRST YEARS graduates listserv (1/3/13): "I work primarily with the 0-3 year old population.  I would love my 'babies' to have FM systems at home.  Are there any reasonably priced FM's a family could purchase that you feel are of sufficient quality?  The reason I ask is that I received an e-mail today advertising a personal FM starting at $599...that is not unreasonable for some of my families but I'm wondering if this an appropriate device?  ...  I continue to search for a funding source for them."

Dr. Heather Porter (faculty) and Sherauna Provensal (class of 2010) both responded with advice to consult an audiologist. Heather continued (1/4/13): "FM systems can be expensive for families, for sure!  It is difficult to determine the quality and appropriateness of a device based on price alone, however.  For any child with hearing loss, I would be sure to consult with their audiologist regarding specific devices.  One important reason is that ear level FMs that attach to hearing aids or cochlear implants can affect amplification.  Also, the audiologist might be able to offer additional insight into potential funding sources.  Some clinics will even work with families to get them an FM system 'at cost', which can significantly reduce the price."

Pam Cross (class of  2011) contributed a source for funding (1/5/13): "A few years ago I requested help from our local Elks club to purchase a personal FM system for a student.  They did it.  I had to fill out the paperwork (the Elks request for assistance form), write a letter of educational need and benefit,  and they purchased it.  I worked in collaboration with the audiologist and [the Oticon rep in our area]. It was a bit of a small process but we had it done in just over a month."

Adding Sound to Language Experience Books
In several of our previous editions, we highlighted some technology to "publish" books.  The Tar Heel Reader/THR (, created by faculty member Karen Ericksen, provided an easy way to generate typed, published versions of language experience books from handwritten originals. As our literacy course co-instructor Lyn Robertson commented (spring 2010 edition): "Books written and illustrated by hand are really wonderful; electronic books with their tidy print and pictures are also wonderful.  Part of the value of the handmade books is that children can see exactly where the book comes from, and part of the value of the electronic book is that the child can see that what can be handwritten can also be typed. Created books can be printed, several to a page to save paper – printed on card stock, laminated ... There are many forms the books can take, and many ways the creations can be used."

check it outFIRST YEARS: Language Experience Books
FIRST YEARS: Instructions for Using Tar Heel Reader (Note: Besides publishing, Tar Heel Reader provides features allowing users to browse through books already created and categorized by topic.)

After working with THR, graduate Chris Barton (class of 2011) began wondering about adding sound to the books: "How powerful would it be to have the child writing his own book and hearing his own voice reading his own book?" (spring 2011 edition). She contacted THR's programmer-developer, Gary Bishop and the outcome was - Tar Heel Player.

As powerful as the concept of adding sound to books was, there was a problem. Tar Heel Player was not as easy to use as Tar Heel Reader. So, we contacted our graduates via our grads listserv for easier, later-developed free alternatives. Emily Pratt (class of 2012) responded:

I used PhotoStory (* when I did my Language Experience Book for class and loved it.  Our librarian had recently shared the software with us in a technology training but it would have been easy to navigate even if I hadn't gone to that.  It's very easy to use and the kids loved it.  You will need to upload the pictures that you want to use onto your computer and then you can add them into Photo Story.  You will also need a microphone so that the kids can record themselves reading their story.  But you can add in music and all kinds of special effects if you would like.  There is also an App for your iPad that is called Pictello ( that is similar.  You can take pictures right from your iPad or use pictures already in your library and create a story with recording on it  (9/18/12). < youtube tutorial on PhotoStory >
And for Mac users? iMovie ( can be used in a very similar fashion to Photo Story. Kristi Straub (class of 2011) came up with Apple's Keynote ( "[It] allows you to embed picture, music and video onto a slide. So, instead of making a hardcopy 'book' you could make an electronic 'book' that could continually be added to, saved, stored, played and burned to DVD ;0) ...and they have editing options that you could use to make it look like you're turning a page as you move from slide to slide (page to page)! Great stuff!!" (9/18/12) 
An LSL "Combination"
This past semester we gave our graduates the opportunity to join the current chort in the "new" course, Listening & Spoken Language Development & Intervention, developed after they graduated and co-taught by Beth Walker and Sherri Vernelson. Lindsay Zombek (class of 2007) offered some impressions (1/4/13):
One thing I tell others considering FIRST YEARS is that it sets you up with relationships and opportunities to keep on learning long after you graduate.  I continue to learn from people in my cohort and continue to learn from people in other cohorts via the listserv and the fabulous newsletter.

This semester, I had the chance to get back in the classroom again ... the Blackboard classroom! ... Back when I graduated, I had the opportunity to take a Language Development course with Karen Rossi  and certainly learned a wealth of applicable information that I continue to use all these years later.  Because the course material had changed and there were new brains to pick, I thought this was a great opportunity to become a student again and learn everything I could!

Once again, I was blown away by the quality of the FIRST YEARS courses - the information, the resources,  the guidance, the discussions ... FIRST YEARS continues to find excellent professors and equally as important,  excellent professionals for each cohort. 

I learned so much from this course ... the correct way to use the CASLLS and the Bloom and Lahey model, which has altered how I collect and analyze data for my caseload. I learned some things I  have always done are not best practice and I learned how to apply Beth's line " go and sin no more." [I] was able to tweak my practice in ways that are shaping the outcomes of the children and adults I serve. Furthermore, I learned many great ideas that the current cohort is using with their caseloads that are applicable to the kids I see. Finally, I learned some amazing southern idioms which expanded my figurative language vocabulary and gave me a chance to giggle at myself!

I was a little unsure of how it would work to get involved with a novel cohort who had already been together for awhile. They could not have made me feel more at home and helped me learn a lot. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by all of those ideas, suggestions, and personal experiences that make FIRST YEARS  such a unique experience.

Thank you FIRST YEARS  for once again providing me with a strong, lasting, teaching experience that will directly benefit the children, adults, and families with whom I work! 

From FIRST YEARS Reference Library ...
Knowing the developmental sequence - from pre-verbal to one- or two-word utterances to complex sentences – is essential to Listening and Spoken Language practice. We stress: 
Children with hearing impairment, regardless of the child's age at diagnosis or degree of hearing loss, should follow the same developmental path as typically-developing children with normal hearing.
As a sidelight to the discussion on developmental sequence in our LSL course, we mentioned a study by Doman (2003):
As the saying goes, "You have to crawl before you can walk." But some babies bypass crawling, going straight to walking. You may be surprised that some researchers (e.g. Doman, 2003*) have found crawling-before-walking is an essential sequence to stimulate right-brain development. Children who skipped the sequence as babies may suffer from speech (and reading and writing) problems, because the same part of the brain (the midbrain) controls both functions. Again, we see developmental sequence in action! 
In reading this, one of our students this past semester, Lindsay Zombek (class of 2007), posted a "unit giggle" (10/6/12): 
So I had to have Physical Therapy a few years ago.  The physical therapist was doing my assessment and all the sudden while poking my side said 'Huh. You never crawled as a baby.'  I, of course, informed her she was crazy. (I work with her, so I'm allowed to insinuate such things.)  I then asked my mother if I crawled as a baby.  Mom confirmed that I never really crawled and was much more the 'sit and cry until someone got me and then went straight to walking' type. Because I never crawled, my musculature remains weird, my core strength is compromised, and I breathe incorrectly.  Because I breathe incorrectly, my voice is pretty low frequency. (Oh the speech grad students had a field day during voice classes with me!)  I apparently need PT and Speech because I never crawled!  WE NEED BABY STEPS!  We do really have to learn to crawl before we can do anything else. We do see it when these kiddos develop, too.  This chronological model really works and when you skip things you see big holes down the road! " 
The sequence is KEY when planning intervention strategies! Here are some of our more "unusual" milestone charts for your reference:
Check it out FIRST YEARS:
– Speech Sound Development Chart
– Developmental Ages for Sound Mastery
– Developmental Ages for the Suppression of Phonological Processes **
– Music and Language Milestones
– Activities to Support the Development of Music Milestones
– Literacy Development: Ages & Stages
*Doman, G. (2003). What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child. Wyndmoore, PA: Gentle Revolution Press.

** Phonological processes/deviations: Predictable pronunciation "errors" (which are not errors at all!) that children make when they are learning to talk like adults, e.g. saying "wabbit" for "rabbit." These are actually patterns of simplification used by young children that limit the child's ability to produce adult-like speech.

Names in the News
Promotion news just in!
Mélissa LeBlanc (class of 2011) reports (1/18/13) her recent appointment as supervisor at her school district - From now on, just call her "Enseignante spécialiste pour les élèves ayant un trouble de l'audition."

Félicitations, Mélissa!

Recent publications by FIRST YEARS faculty, students, and mentors

  1. Estabrooks, W. (ed.). 101 FAQs about Auditory-Verbal Practice: Promoting Listening and Spoken Language for Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Their Families
This new publication, expanding and updating  Estabrooks'  previous 50 FAQs,  focuses on the latest in current theory, practice, and evidence-based outcomes and offers knowledge, guidance and hope for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, their families, and the professionals serve them.  Author contributions abound with FIRST YEARS faculty, mentors and, yes, graduates!
101 FAQs Faculty
Elizabeth Cole
Donald Goldberg
Todd Houston
Gayla Hutsell Guignard
Lyn Robertson
Karen Rossi
Ellen Thomas
Kathryn Wilson
Denise Wray
Ann Bauman (class of 2007)
Sherri Fickenscher (class of 2007 
and now a mentor)
Teresa Caraway
Ellen Gill
Kim Hamren
Lisa Katz
Vicky Hlady McDonald
Karen MacIver-Lux
Amy Lalios
pamela steacie
Darcy Stowe 
Pamela Talbot
Carrie Taminga
101 FAQs is a must for your reference library!
  1. DeMoss, W.L, Clem, B.C., & Wilson, K. (2012). Using technology to mentor aspiring LSLS professionals. The Volta Review, 112 (3), 329-343.
  2. Talking Tips - To subscribe to Talking Tips, send an email to:
    1. Rossi, K. Talking Tips, September/October, 2012. (Theme: "Creating a Need to Talk")
    2. Rossi, K. Talking Tips, November, 2012. (Theme: "Mommy Talk/Daddy Talk")
    3. Rossi, K. Talking Tips, December, 2012. (Theme: "Follow a Child's Lead")
Upcoming workshops/webinars by our faculty and students
  1. At the 12th Annual EHDI Conference, Glendale AZ, April 14 - 16, 2013:
    1. Behl, D., Tharpe, A.M. & Hayes, D.  The Role of Tele-audiology in Supporting Access to Care.
    2. Goldberg, D. Foundations in Listening and Spoken Language for Infants and Young Children
    3. Harrison, M. & Tharpe, A.M. Serving Families of Infants and Toddlers with Mild or Unilateral Hearing Loss: Employing Effective Medical, Audiologic and Developmental Intervention Strategies
    4. Hartblay, M., Hecht, B., Cole, E . Changing Systems: Home Visits to tVISITS
    5. Caraway, T., Johnson, C.D. & Hutsell, G. It’s All in How You Do It: Systems and Services Alignment for Children and Youth who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing
    6. Wilson, K., & Henderson, L. Put a Stop to the 30 Million Word Gap – Begin at Birth! 
  2. Heavner, K., Payonk, S. & Kenny, H. Putting It All Together. Feb. 22, 2013. LSLS credit.
  3. Heavner, K. & Vernelson, S. Bloom & Lahey I / CASLLS I: Roadmap to Language Development. Mar. 11-12, 2013. LSLS credit.
  4. Heavner, K. & Vernelson, S. Bloom & Lahey II / CASLLS II: Roadmap to Language Development. May 12 -13, 2013. LSLS credit.
new topic
© 2013, 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: January, 2013