End the Year Helping Deaf Children Find Their Joy
Dear Alexander Graham Bell Community,
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. We get to spend a few treasured days with family and friends, catching up on their lives, laughing together and enjoying lots of traditions. I hope that you were able to spend this day of celebration with the people who are most dear to you. Traveling back home after the holiday, I read through the finalized copy of the AG Bell annual report, which has just been printed and mailed to our supporters.
Looking at each page brought back memories of all that AG Bell has been working to accomplish. Each year in the United States, 2 to 3 of every 1,000 babies are born with hearing loss. We are fortunate today that nearly all of these babies are being identified in the first few days of life through newborn hearing screening. Thanks to a system of early hearing identification and intervention, we are doing a better job every day in identifying infants that are deaf or hard of hearing. [infographic]
The challenge is that many parents are not made aware of the range of communication options for children who are deaf. AG Bell fully supports the recommendation by the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing that all "families should be made aware of all communication options and available hearing technologies in an unbiased manner." Listening and spoken language makes it possible for children who are deaf to hear the sounds of the world, to learn language by listening to the voices of their parents and family, and to develop spoken language that will enable these children to connect with others in the mainstream.
We know that the early years following diagnosis are challenging - and families of children who are deaf can face unexpected financial stress in meeting the needs of their children. That's why AG Bell financial aid is designed to cover a wide range of expenses, from hearing technology to auditory-verbal therapy to music lessons for the next prodigy among us. In the past year, AG Bell awarded more than $400,000 in financial aid and college scholarships to families of children who are deaf and young adults who are making their way in the world.
Nearly every week we receive letters from parents and students who received financial aid. For example, the parents of a budding fourth grade pianist wrote that having cochlear implants has been no barrier for their son in developing a niche as a musician, "He has made remarkable progress over four months of lessons last summer! He really picked up quickly on basic key skills, and we were grateful for the individual instruction time. He was able to concentrate on his teacher, without being distracted by others." Letters like these are proof of the powerful impact of our financial aid program.
We've asked our community to send videos that show us what people who are deaf can do - and I'm thrilled to see the many videos that were shared. There's Kylie who talks about her life with cochlear implants. Kylie flips for gymnastics, sings in musical theater, dances to hip hop music, and does acrobatics with aerial silks to music. Being deaf doesn't stop her from enjoying these activities - or taking pride in bringing home a report card with all As! I hope that you will enjoy the stories of Carleigh, Vaughn, and Meg and Joe as much as I do. Each of these stories highlights the tremendous potential and opportunities for people who are deaf and use listening and spoken language.
Today we celebrate Giving Tuesday - a day dedicated to giving back in the spirit of generosity and volunteerism. There are many ways that you can support the next generation of children who are deaf. If you haven't done so already, send us your own video and share your story to let people know that deafness does not prevent people from achieving their dreams.
Please share the AG Bell infographic on your social media networks. Your support made it possible to reach more than 2 million people in 2014. And when you share the infographic, we can reach even more people with the message that the sky is the limit for deaf children today.
With your generous donation, we can continue our mission of serving children with hearing loss and their families. AG Bell has associated our #GivingTuesday effort with Network for Good; they are making $100,000 available in matching funds, and we are hoping you'll help us secure part of that match with you gift. Please click here to donate today. Even the smallest contribution matters.
In this season of giving, your support makes it possible for every parent of a deaf child to understand that deaf children can hear, talk and connect. You make it possible for children with hearing loss to achieve their dreams, and AG Bell is grateful that you continue to make those triumphs possible.
Until next week,
It is the heart that does the giving; the fingers only let go.
- Nigerian saying