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AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language Announces New President-Elect and New Board Members


Washington, D.C. - September 1, 2009 - The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) Academy for Listening and Spoken Language today announced Cheryl L. Dickson, M.Ed., LSLS Cert. AVT, as its president-elect for the 2010-2012 term. Dickson, a resident of New South Wales, Australia, was the first professional in Southeast Asia to be certified as an Auditory-Verbal Therapist. Dickson runs a private practice in listening and spoken language therapy in Sydney, Australia, and serves as clinical director for The Hearing House in Auckland, New Zealand.

The AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language also named Ellen Estes, M.S., LSLS Cert. AVEd to its board of directors. Estes is a certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Auditory-Verbal Educator (LSLS Cert. AVEd) and is the curriculum and instruction specialist for the Katherine Hamm Center at the Atlanta Speech School in Atlanta, Ga. The program was named "Program of the Year" in 2008 by the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell). In addition, AG Bell Academy board member Lyn Robertson, Ph.D., was reappointed for another two-year term on the AG Bell Academy Board of Directors. Robertson is an associate professor of Education and Women's Studies at Denison University and recently released her latest book, "Literacy and Deafness: Listening and Spoken Language," through Plural Publishing. Robertson and Estes will serve for the 2009-2011 term.

Established in 2005, the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language advances listening and talking through standards of excellence and international certification of professionals who help children who are deaf or hard of hearing develop spoken language and literacy primarily through listening. The AG Bell Academy certifies Listening and Spoken Language Specialists (LSLS) who are designated as a LSLS Cert. AVT (Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist) and/or LSLS Cert. AVEd (Certified Auditory-Verbal Educator). Requirements for certification include a master's degree or international equivalent post-graduate degree or diploma in audiology, speech-language pathology, or deaf education and at least 80 hours of post-graduate work or related study such as workshops, seminars or direct observation of therapeutic or educational sessions. Finally, LSLS candidates take a rigorous exam to test their knowledge in what is known as the nine domains of a listening and spoken language specialist which includes auditory functioning, emergent literacy, hearing and hearing technology, as well as parent guidance, education and support, among other subject matter areas.

"The LSLS certification is the standard by which all early intervention programs, preschools, and K-12 public and private schools should seek in order to ensure that their education and therapeutic teams have a highly qualified, trained and certified professional present," said Donald M. Goldberg, Ph.D., LSLS Cert. AVT, AG Bell Academy president and co-director of the Hearing Implant Program at Cleveland Clinic. "Today, with the incredible advancements in hearing technology that have occurred, children born with profound hearing loss can ‘learn to listen' and develop spoken language and literacy skills to a level never even dreamed of just a generation ago," continued Goldberg. "A qualified and trained professional is absolutely essential to this end. In some areas of the U.S., we see upwards of 80 to 90 percent of parents choosing a listening and spoken language outcome for their child. However, the nation's professional preparation programs, infant and child intervention services, as well as private and public school systems, are experiencing a ‘crisis of capacity' between the numbers of children pursuing this outcome and availability of qualified, trained professionals to assist them. As the AG Bell Academy continues to grow capacity in this field, and expand our geographic reach so we can better serve these children in their own communities, we hope that public awareness can be raised that these children have the potential to listen and talk and thus expand the breadth of their academic, social and professional choices in life."

Cheryl L. Dickson, M.Ed., LSLS Cert. AVT, has worked with children with hearing loss for 35 years and has been a certified auditory-verbal therapist since 1994. She has a private practice in Sydney, Australia, and consults throughout Southeast Asia. Dickson has consulted with Cochlear Ltd., MED-EL, The Hearing House in Auckland New Zealand, The Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre and Renwick College of the University of Newcastle, to name a few. Dickson was the founding director of CLASP (Center for Learning and Speech) Auditory-Verbal Center in the Philippines. Dickson received her B.A. in Elementary Education from University of Northern Colorado and a master's degree in Special Education from University of Arizona. Dickson serves as co-chair of the certification committee of the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language.

Ellen L. Estes, M.S., LSLS Cert. AVEd, is the coordinator of the Katherine Hamm Center, an auditory-oral program for children with hearing loss at the Atlanta Speech School in Atlanta, Ga. She is past-chair of the International Professional Section of AG Bell and has written articles, conducted workshops and advised schools throughout the country on many aspects of language and literacy development of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Estes received a B.S. in communication disorders from University of Massachusetts - Amherst, and a M.S. in speech and hearing from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Lyn Robertson, Ph.D., teaches in the Department of Education of Denison University, a liberal arts university in Granville, Ohio. She began her career teaching seventh grade English where she discovered students achieving at low levels in reading and writing. This led her to extensive study of literacy, particularly within linguistic, cognitive, and social frameworks. Robertson has taught reading and about reading to people from preschool to adulthood. The mother of a daughter with severe-to-profound hearing loss, she has authored, "Literacy Learning for Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing," and "Literacy and Deafness: Listening and Spoken Language." Robertson received her B.A. in English from Denison University and a Ph.D. in reading from The Ohio State University.

The AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language® is an independently governed, 501c(6) nonprofit subsidiary corporation of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The AG Bell Academy envisions a future where individuals and families will have qualified listening and spoken language professionals available in their immediate geographic area. The AG Bell Academy is uniquely positioned to advance the revolutionary global opportunity for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen and talk via proven technologies and with guidance and education from certified professionals.

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