NEC Foundation of America has awarded the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell), Washington, DC, a $30,000 grant to expand FIRST YEARS, an online distance learning program for professionals in the fields of deaf education, speech-language pathology, audiology and early intervention who work with children with hearing loss.

A collaboration between AG Bell and the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, FIRST YEARS provides professionals with skills and knowledge in specialized areas such as auditory learning, communication technology and childhood language development and prepares them to help children with hearing loss learn to listen and talk.

“Advances in newborn hearing screening, hearing technology and early intervention have opened a world of opportunities for children with hearing loss to learn spoken language, and the FIRST YEARS program offers professionals the latest knowledge about this rapidly changing field,” says K. Todd Houston, PhD, executive director and CEO of AG Bell. “With the support of NEC Foundation of America, AG Bell will help to ensure that more families have access to highly trained professionals who understand how to foster listening and spoken language development for all children with hearing loss.”

“NEC Foundation of America is proud to help AG Bell and FIRST YEARS prepare professionals to support families of children with hearing loss who are learning spoken language,” says Sylvia Clark, executive director. “By helping professionals expand their knowledge, FIRST YEARS will provide today’s children with hearing loss the opportunity to listen, learn and thrive in their local communities.”

[SOURCE: AG Bell, October 2006]