Wilkerson Center Serves Children With Hearing Loss This article is the first in an occasional series contributed by Special Interest Division 9, Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Childhood. Since the 1960s, the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center (VBWC) has been at the forefront of research, education, and service to children with hearing loss. In 2005 the VBWC opened ... Features
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Features  |   April 01, 2007
Wilkerson Center Serves Children With Hearing Loss
Author Notes
  • Tamala S Bradham, is an audiologist and associate director of service for the Wilkerson Center, and oversees the service division of the National Center for Childhood Deafness and Family Communication. Contact her at tamala.bradham@vanderbilt.edu.
    Tamala S Bradham, is an audiologist and associate director of service for the Wilkerson Center, and oversees the service division of the National Center for Childhood Deafness and Family Communication. Contact her at tamala.bradham@vanderbilt.edu.×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Features
Features   |   April 01, 2007
Wilkerson Center Serves Children With Hearing Loss
The ASHA Leader, April 2007, Vol. 12, 5-13. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.12052007.5
The ASHA Leader, April 2007, Vol. 12, 5-13. doi:10.1044/leader.FTR1.12052007.5
This article is the first in an occasional series contributed by Special Interest Division 9, Hearing and Hearing Disorders in Childhood.
Since the 1960s, the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center (VBWC) has been at the forefront of research, education, and service to children with hearing loss. In 2005 the VBWC opened the National Center for Childhood Deafness and Family Communication (NCCDFC), which seeks to improve outcomes for children with hearing loss and their families through a triad of exemplary service, education, and research.
The NCCDFC service division provides state-of-the-art assessment and management of hearing loss in infants and children. Through a family-centered approach, the goal is to maximize the child’s hearing potential so that he or she can communicate independently and effectively in mainstream society. This division provides services for newborns through young adulthood and includes audiology, cochlear implants, speech-language pathology, and deaf education services.
NCCDFC audiologists and speech-language pathologists provide counseling to families of children with hearing loss about intervention, communication, and educational options. The audiologists have expertise in diagnostic services and hearing technology, including digital hearing aids, cochlear implants, Baha, FM systems, and other assistive listening devices. The audiologists work closely with families in selecting the most appropriate technologies to meet their child’s communication needs. Speech-language-listening services are also available to families as soon as their children are identified with hearing loss.
The SLPs have unique expertise in developing spoken language and maximizing auditory skills in infants and children with hearing loss. They also work collaboratively with the pediatric speech-language services division at the VBWC to serve children with multiple disabilities, including hearing loss, to meet the child’s unique communication and medical needs.
The Mama Lere Hearing School at Vanderbilt is a private auditory-oral preschool devoted to teaching children with hearing loss to communicate and learn. The program serves infants and children from birth through 6 years in small classrooms focusing on learning opportunities that maximize the development of spoken language. The team consists of teachers of people who are deaf, audiologists, SLPs, occupational therapists, and early childhood teachers, and assistants. The emphasis is on listening, language, speech, pre-literacy and numeric skills, and cognition.
These special programs aim to afford children the same opportunities as their hearing peers to participate in their home district mainstream educational program with minimal support. This goal is accomplished through the specialized curriculum, the highly trained professionals who specialize in developing spoken language and auditory learning skills in young children, and the acoustically friendly classrooms, which allow children access to teachers’ and classmates’ instructions.
The NCCDFC educational division offers specialty track training in early identification and management of infants and children with hearing loss for speech-language pathology master’s students and AuD students. Students in the program have additional coursework and practicum experiences that prepare them to work with infants and children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
The educational division also offers a graduate program in deaf education to prepare students to be teachers of children who are deaf and hard of hearing; graduates receive a master’s in education of the deaf, with emphasis on the development of spoken language and auditory skills for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. This interdisciplinary approach to training combines some core courses with speech-language pathology, audiology, and deaf education for students while continuing separate courses specific to their disciplines. It is unique to the Vanderbilt program.
The NCCDFC research division brings together clinicians and scientists from a range of disciplines, areas of expertise, and research interests—all with a focus on the pediatric population. The research program comprises basic science and translational research projects designed to improve understanding of normal hearing processes and various forms of childhood deafness, and to develop new and innovative methods that address the management needs of pediatric patients and their families.
For more information, contact the NCCDFC at 615-936-5000 or nccdfc@vanderbilt.edu.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
April 2007
Volume 12, Issue 5