Yes, Deaf Kids Can Learn to Talk !

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What is Equal Voice for Deaf Children (EVDC) ?

EVDC is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. Its purpose is to help parents of children with hearing loss to teach their child to listen and talk. This website is part of EVDC's Project EmpowerWeb. The aim of this project is to serve as a resource for families around the world who do not have access to a qualified therapist who can help their child acquire spoken communication skills.

Who Can Benefit From This Website ?

In the United States, a significant fraction of families with a hearing-impaired child do not have access to institutions or private therapists who specialize in teaching deaf children to talk. This is often because they live in a remote or rural area, hundreds of miles from a major city where such services may be available. Relatively few public school systems across the country offer an “oral option” to their deaf students. As a result, these families are often faced with the choice of moving to a place with services, or accepting that their child will not learn to listen and talk.

The situation is not much better in other developed nations, and is dire in the developing world. Most deaf children in the developing world simply don’t have the option of talking available to them.

Also, time is of the essence. We have to start teaching the child as soon as his hearing loss is identified, even if he is an infant. Every day, month, or year that we delay will make the climb that much harder. Without proper guidance, the child will tune out sounds around him, develop bad communication habits that may be difficult to undo, and the most important periods of brain development would have been missed.

This is where EVDC's Project EmpowerWeb can help. While parents are looking to access live, professional help for their child, they can start working with their child to instill good listening habits. When they do find their therapist, they will hit the ground running.

On the other hand, there are families who may never have access to trained, certified therapists where they live (much of the developing world). EVDC aims to help such families to work with their child themselves. While this is not a substitute for a live qualified therapist, parents can, with determination, perseverance, and constant learning, help their child make significant progress. Moreover, the child’s classroom teacher (or other therapists, who may not have specialized training in this field) can learn from this website to work more effectively with the child.

Why Learn to Listen and Talk ?

There are other communication options available to a deaf child, such as Manual (sign language) and Total Communication. They are perfectly valid alternatives provided all communication options were available to the child and the family made an informed choice. The Spoken Communication (“auditory-verbal” or "auditory-oral") option, however, has several advantages:

1. The child will grow up in the mainstream, talking society and will not feel socially cut off from it. He will live, learn, and play alongside normal-hearing children and will lead as “normal” a life as the others (go to regular school, play with neighborhood children, function independently in the mainstream society).

2. The child can maximize his potential in mainstream society; he can grow up to pursue any career he wants.

3. Research shows that, in the long run, it is a cost-effective solution, both for the family and the society.

4. With the wide availability of cochlear implants, more and more parents are making a decision for their child to receive an implant. The potential of a cochlear implant can be fully realized only through the child learning to listen and talk through auditory-verbal therapy.

Deaf, Hearing-Impaired, or Children with Hearing Loss ?

This is a website intended for an international audience; different terminologies are used in different parts of the world. Some people with hearing loss (especially in the U.S.) resent being referred to as “deaf,” which they feel stigmatizes them. Others (such as the “oral deaf” adults) are comfortable with the use of the word. Yet others (such as the manual deaf community in the U.S., who consider deafness not as a physical disability but as central to their “Deaf Culture”) use the term proudly to express their group identity.

In some parts of the world, the terrible expressions “deaf-mute” and “deaf and dumb” are still used to refer to deaf children. This is because people are unaware that deaf children, with proper amplification and intensive therapy, can listen and talk just like the rest of us. In other words, the deaf are ‘dumb’ because the rest of us are ignorant!

Some prefer the term “hearing-impaired,” especially when the hearing loss is partial. Others use the term “children with hearing loss” which offends no one but is often clumsy and distracting when used repeatedly in a narrative.

In this website, we will use the terms ‘deaf,’ ‘hearing-impaired,’ and ‘children with hearing loss’ interchangeably. No disrespect is meant to any individual or group.

A similar problem arises in the use of non-sexist writing; “he or she,” “him or her” is distracting and could lead to confusion (“are we talking about the child-she, mommy-she, or therapist-she here?”). The plural “they” and “them” are not very satisfactory either. In this website, we have chosen to refer to the deaf child by the male pronoun (he/him) and the parent or therapist by the female pronoun (she/her). We know that there are as many girls with hearing loss as boys, and we appreciate that many fathers find time to work with their deaf child. We simply are trying to make this website more readable.

Why "Equal Voice" ?

Today the technologies to help children with hearing loss to listen and talk --- amplification technology such as cochlear implants and hearing aids, and habilitation technology such as auditory-verbal therapy ---- are readily available in the developed world. Communication technologies such as the internet broadband have shrunk the distance between urban and rural areas as well as the developed and developing world. We believe that our failure to provide a child with hearing loss the opportunity to participate in the mainstream society through spoken communication -- when the technology is readily available -- is a denial of the child’s basic human rights. We want that child’s voice to be heard - metaphorically and literally. We want his demand for his basic human rights be given “Equal Voice.”

Who Are the People Behind EVDC ?

EVDC was founded by Pratibha Srinivasan, Au.D., LSLS-Cert.AVT, CCC-A.

Pratibha has been serving the cause of children with hearing loss for over 30 years --- teaching children with hearing loss to listen and talk, advocating their rights, and training therapists and teachers. She founded Chattering Children, a nonprofit auditory-verbal center and auditory-oral school in Virginia, in 1999 and stepped down as its Executive Director in 2008 to become an independent consultant.

Pratibha has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (AGBell) and the Chairperson of the Certification Council of the Auditory-Verbal International (now part of AGBell).

Pratibha has conducted scores of seminars, workshops, and training programs, both within the U.S. and internationally. She is the author of Practical Aural Habilitation (Charles C Thomas, 1996).

Pratibha's website can be found
here.

How to Use This Website

IMPORTANT !
You need to have the latest
Flash Player (version 10 or later) installed to view the video clips.
If you have a Windows PC, use
Internet Explorer (7 or later) or Google Chrome browser.
(Firefox does not display the video properly)
If you have a Mac, you can use either Firefox for Mac, Safari, or Chrome for Mac.

Click the links to download the above software if you do not already have them.

The most important part of this website is the ParentGuide Program, which teaches parents to work with their child at home. To use the Program, start at the Begin page; then, go to the ParentGuide page, where you will get an overview of the program. Next, you will be taught how to determine your child's current level of skills. On this basis, you will be directed to the appropriate lessons you should start using with your child.

Another section of this website is the Forum; this is a meeting place where parents can discuss all issues relating to teaching their child to listen and talk. This is where the parents can help one another, share their knowledge, and empower themselves as a community.

The Resources section gives a selected list of people, places, and material relevant to children with hearing loss.

The Lessons and Techniques, to be used as part of the program, have been grouped separately for easy reference.

Is this Website Available in Other Languages?

We are looking for volunteers to translate the contents of this website into as many languages as possible!

Look at the bottom of a web page; if that page is available in other languages, there will be a footnote stating the languages in which the web page contents are available
. Clicking on a language will take you to a .pdf file containing the translation.

Please note that these files are text translations of the web page content (that is, you won't see the web page itself in a different language). It would be enormously expensive to recreate the website in different languages; such effort is better spent in getting just the text translated into as many languages as possible.

The idea is that while most users of this website would have sufficient knowledge of English to follow this website, the translations would really help non-native English speakers to get an in-depth understanding of the lessons in particular. We are also hoping to translate the script of the video clips, since they may contain colloquialisms and other culture-specific language (in addition to accents that may be unfamiliar to some users).

We are trying to make the contents of this website available in as many world languages as possible. Since this is a nonprofit effort, we rely on volunteer translators. Please understand that EVDC does not have any means of verifying the accuracy of the translation. If you would like to help with the translation, please visit the
EVDC Forum (you will be asked to register if you have not already done so).

Please visit the
Translation page for a list of web pages on this site for which translations are available in one or more languages.

What Are the Copyright Restrictions ?

Your use of this website is subject to International Copyright Laws. This means you may copy small portions of this website's contents for personal and non-commercial use. All such copies should bear the copyright owner information. Any other use (copying for distribution, reproduction of the information in other publications, use in training programs, commercial use, etc) requires advance, written permission of the copyright owner.

The videoclips on this websites include lessons and real-life examples that accompany lessons. These are available only for viewing as part of this website. You are prohibited from downloading, copying and/or using these videoclips for any other purpose.

I Would Like to Help EVDC!

Thank you! There are a number of ways in which you can choose to help EVDC.
Please visit the page
I Want to Help!

How to Contact EVDC ?

For questions relating to problems accessing this website, email webmaster {at} evdcweb.org -- remember to replace {at} with @. Also check the forum for discussions on how to get the videoclips to play properly, etc.

For questions relating to the content of this website or about the EVDC organization, email Pratibha {at} evdcweb.org

Disclaimer

The information presented in this website is for educational purposes only. Parents are strongly encouraged to access a live, qualified therapist and receive regular, intensive therapy for their child. This website is not intended as a substitute for face-to-face therapy customized to your child's specific needs from a qualified therapist. Please also note that the forum is provided here as a way for parents to interact and network; any suggestions or information you may receive from the forum participants should be viewed as purely educational. You are responsible for your use of such educational information. EVDC is not responsible for any loss you may incur from your use of any information presented on this website.

A translation of this web page contents is available as a .pdf file in Danish, Hindi
What's New !
General Strategies Added!!

Even more "General Strategies" descriptions have been added in the "Lessons" section. We are working to complete all "General Strategies".
Workshop in Lebanon!

In September 2011, Pratibha travelled to Beirut, Lebanon, to conduct a workshop for the educators at Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf. Click on the Projects tab at the top of this page to read more about it.
Lesson Added!

Lesson 111 has been added! We are working to add more lessons (as our resources would permit).