June 9, 2011

Mama Lere graduation

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Mama Lere Hearing School at Vanderbilt students celebrate during their recent graduation ceremony. (photo by Joe Howell)

The Mama Lere Hearing School at Vanderbilt recently held its 2011 Student Celebration and Graduation in Light Hall on the Vanderbilt University Medical Center campus.

Thirty-four children ages 2 through 6 — most with hearing loss — sang, danced, and received end-of-the-year diplomas during the hour-long event attended by teachers and family members.

The Mama Lere Hearing School at Vanderbilt is a school for children with hearing loss who are using cochlear implants or digital hearing aids to learn to listen, sing, read and talk. The goal of the school is to have all children talking, understanding, and reading at peer level by the time they reach first grade and are ready to be mainstreamed with their normal-hearing peers.

A few children with normal hearing are enrolled in the curriculum-based school as peer models. In addition, a family education and support group helps parents improve understanding of hearing loss and its associated problems. The school is a local option for parents of children with hearing loss who want their children to learn to speak, rather than use sign language to communicate.

Since the early 1980s, the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center has been actively involved in providing cochlear implant services for children and adults and research efforts to improve technology and intervention services. This technology has improved the quality of life for countless adults and children with hearing loss.