Conference Offers New Strategies for Helping Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing Learn to Listen and Talk

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Conference Presenters Include a Top U.S. Education Official and Expert in Cultural Competence

A top official from the U.S. Department of Education and a national expert in culturally competent service delivery will provide an update on federal education initiatives and culturally competent service delivery to more than 400 professionals serving children with hearing loss and their families at a three-day conference on July 21–23, 2011 in Washington, D.C.

The conference, titled the “Listening and Spoken Language Symposium,” will be held by the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell; Founded in 1890, AG Bell is the only national organization dedicated to supporting families, children and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing that use spoken language to communicate and the professionals that serve them.

Keynote presenter Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education, will provide an update on federal education initiatives for children with disabilities. The Office of Special Education Programs is dedicated to improving results for children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to states and local school districts.

Musgrove’s career is distinguished by her commitment to collaborative frameworks that find creative solutions to difficult educational problems. She is focused on improving outcomes for all children, and experienced in using data to influence systemic improvement decisions. During her tenure as state director of special education, students with disabilities achieved improved results in reading and math, schools implemented more inclusive practices, graduation rates increased, and drastic steps were taken to halt disproportionate identification of African-American students for special education.

Tawara D. Goode, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., will present a keynote on “Working with Families: How to Master Cultural and Linguistic Competencies.” Goode will explore changing demographics and dynamics in working with families today and provide foundational approaches for culturally and linguistically competent service delivery. As director of the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, Goode has been involved in developing and implementing programs and initiatives in the area of cultural and linguistic competency at the local, national, and international levels.

“Educational reform and cultural competence are critical issues for everyone involved in working with children and families today,” said Kathleen Treni. “More than 90% of parents seek a listening and spoken language outcome for their children who are deaf or hard of hearing and most of these children are attending public schools where they need educational programs, services, and qualified professionals to support them.” The AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language offers certification for Listening and Spoken Language Specialists (LSLS) who involve the family and work directly with children in individual, group or classroom settings.

“The changing demographics in the U.S. population have a profound influence on education today and we are being called to serve an increasing number of families who are multicultural and multigenerational,” Treni added.

The Symposium features two general sessions, 15 workshops, and six short courses. Topics to be covered include:

  • Outcome data on children with mild to severe hearing loss
  • Evidence on the importance of supporting parental linguistic input
  • The use of innovative assessment tools for diagnosis and intervention
  • Distance learning strategies and technologies for educating families and mentoring professionals
  • Strategies to effectively advocate for educational rights as well as proven strategies to pass local and state legislation for insurance coverage of hearing aids

Symposium attendees include teachers of the deaf, speech-language pathologists, listening and spoken language professionals, audiologists, researchers, administrators, and clinicians.

“This symposium is designed to highlight current issues in the field today—and provide cutting-edge research and innovative strategies for professionals who serve children and families,” said Treni, who is principal of the pre-kindergarten through 12th grade programs for deaf and hard of hearing students in Bergen County Special Services District in Northern New Jersey. “We are excited to offer this program which provides the latest research in listening and spoken language development today.”

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About the AG Bell Association
The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive. With chapters located in the United States and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Advocating independence through listening and talking!


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Susan Boswell
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