Audiology Clinic Expansion
Ohio Valley Voices (OVV) was formed in 1999 by three local families who wanted their young children who were deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) to speak. Partnering with the Oberkotter Foundation, which focuses solely on hearing-related issues, they raised initial funds for the school. Maria Sentelik, an audiologist and parent of a deaf child, serves as executive director and implemented the evidence-based Moog deaf education curriculum. OVV teaches D/HH children to hear and speak with the goal of mainstreaming them into traditional schools on par academically with their hearing age peers, ideally at age four. OVV serves D/HH children of the Tri-State as well as families who move to SW Ohio specifically so their children can attend this school. OVV has become one of the six leading oral deaf education programs in the country and 98% of students leave with speaking as their primary mode of communication. Early graduates are now excelling in high school and college academics, athletics, musical performance and public speaking; one local student recently scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.
The Program: OVV operates five programs: The Family Center (parents and children from 0-3 years), The Discovery Center (pre-K), The Learning Center (early Elementary) Outreach Program (screening other local students) and the Audiology Clinic. The clinic allows young children who are D/HH access to quality sound at all times which is essential when learning to speak. This access is provided by one of two devices: a hearing aid (HA) which amplifies sound for those with some hearing ability, or a cochlear implant (CI) for those who are profoundly deaf. A CI is a sophisticated, life-changing electronic device which bypasses the damaged parts of the ear to deliver signals directly to the brain, which is then trained to interpret these sounds. OVV wants to relocate and expand their Audiology Clinic to accomplish two goals: create the specialized environment to perform infant diagnostic testing and to broaden their services to their existing students, alumni and underserved local children. The total cost of the project is $186,700 and additional foundations and fund-raising will cover the balance.
What is the project and need? Diagnosis of hearing loss in early infancy is essential for successful treatment, as intensive intervention should start by three months of age. Cincinnati currently has only one infant diagnostic center which can perform this testing and they do not provide comprehensive treatment. As a result, many infants do not get the devices and critical intervention services they need on time. By becoming a certified diagnostic center, OVV can diagnose the infants with hearing loss and begin to serve them and their families with a full range of educational and support services immediately. OVV estimates they could evaluate 100 infants in the first year of operation. Within the existing populations of children they serve, OVV would like to broaden their services. The current 50+ students would be tested more efficiently, reducing lost instructional time. Approximately 25% more alumni could enjoy continuity of care with their primary audiologist. In addition, 150 area preschool children would be screened to detect hearing loss, an increase of 50%. This project to relocate and expand the clinic would provide many benefits: the new equipment and quiet area to diagnose infants, space for a second audiologist, expanded times for testing, a separate entrance with access to parking and a lobby area for support staff and family members.
How will the money be used? Impact 100’s grant would be used for capital improvements and upgraded equipment. The renovation of the clinic would take only 10 to 14 weeks, and OVV has already developed detailed architectural plans which utilize existing space.