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Joan Marttila and Laura Cooley Receive Bingham Award

October 16, 2009

The Iowa Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation has awarded Joan Marttila and Laura Cooley, of the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA), the Bingham Innovation Award. The Bingham Innovation Award is funded by Dale and Celia Bingham and supports innovative projects in public schools. This is the third year the award has been offered and any school-based speech-language pathologist or audiologist can apply. The winner receives a $500.00 stipend to help support their proposed project.

It seems obvious that early detection and intervention are extremely important in the process of identifying infants who are deaf or hard of hearing. When identification and intervention occurs within the first six months of age, an infant’s performance in the following areas are higher vocabulary, articulation intelligibility, social adjustment, and behavior. There is another factor that can greatly impact the lives of these infants; parental knowledge.

Parental knowledge is often overlooked but is just as important as early detection. The project submitted by Joan and Laura focuses on training parents to be more knowledgeable about their child’s hearing loss. Currently, the Mississippi Bend AEA offers a program to help school-age students learn about their hearing loss. The program is titled Knowledge is Power (KIP) and is designed to give students the tools they need to acquire information and empower them to advocate for themselves.

Clearly, infants cannot advocate for themselves. They depend on their parents to make informed decisions on their behalf. This is where the new program, KIP Start, will be beneficial. KIP Start will focus on ensuring that parents of children with newly identified hearing loss will have a good understanding of their child’s hearing loss, amplification and the relationship between early intervention and the development of age-appropriate speech and language skills. Three audiologists at the Mississippi Bend AEA will t participate in the project. The $500.00 stipend provided by the Bingham Innovation Award will be used on literature and other materials for the parents. Audiologists will set up informational meetings that are geared specifically for the parents to assist them in understanding their child’s hearing loss. Results will be tracked by pre and post tests, along with informal logs kept by the audiologists.

If you have any questions about the Bingham award or the project being implemented, please contact Joan Marttila at 563-344-6275 or Laura Cooley at 563-263-8476.

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