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USU to Begin New Program for Hearing-Impaired

USU to Begin New Program for Hearing-Impaired

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LOGAN, Utah (AP) -- Utah State University will soon begin offering a program to help hearing-impaired children 5 years old and younger.

Sound Beginnings of Cache Valley is a $3 million initiative that will have an auditory-oral focus, meaning the program will concentrate on developing speaking skills rather than sign language, said program director Todd Houston.

For infants up to age 2, Utah State's program will offer weekly meetings to help parents teach their children through play. At 2, the children join a Sound Beginnings play group, which will meet weekly for two hours.

From 3 to 5, they are part of a tuition-free, early childhood educational program housed on Utah State's campus. The school will have space for five to ten children and offer access to specialists in early childhood deaf education, pediatric audiology and speech-language pathology. All services are scheduled to begin this fall.

Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education department head Beth Foley said the program will provide an alternative for deaf children and their families, not replace the department's sign language training program.

"An oral-auditory focus is right for some families and not right for others," she said. "We already have a strong sign-language program. Now we are expanding the options we have out there for parents."

Houston agreed.

"Parents can, and should, be able to choose how they want to communicate with their children," he continued. "The fact is that 95 percent of all newborns with permanent hearing loss are born to hearing parents, and with all of the advances in the field, most of these parents want to communicate via spoken language. Many parents are now choosing to get their children cochlear implants, and these children need intensive follow-up training and services to take full advantage of this technology."

Information from: The Herald Journal

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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