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June 4, 2010 > Early Intervention on Deafness group helps globally

Early Intervention on Deafness group helps globally

Submitted By Jennifer Neale

The Center for Early Intervention on Deafness (CEID), co-founded 30 years ago by Jill Ellis, is a non-profit charitable organization, dedicated to identifying hearing loss in babies within the first few weeks of life, and enrolling the child in early intervention prior to 6 months of age. The overall goal is to provide exemplary services in order to optimize the child's communication, social, and academic potentials. About half of the organization's funding comes from contracts with school districts and agencies, and the other half, more than $500,000 per year, is generated from individual gifts, foundation and corporate grants, and fundraising events.

When the organization began in 1980, families in the United States, regardless of their education or financial situation, were not aware of how important it was to test an infant early. Oftentimes, when parents suspected a hearing loss, they were told to "wait" until their child was old enough to test or until the problem resolved over time. If the family was poor, testing was virtually unheard of. Much of what Ellis and her team focused on was increasing physician awareness, promoting early referrals, and providing equal access to quality and comprehensive services for all families in the San Francisco Bay Area, regardless of the family's income.

"Deafness has often been referred to as the 'invisible handicap,'" says Ellis. "Young children are eager to learn and socialize with friends and family, but when they don't hear normally, their interactions and abilities can be compromised. By identifying a loss early, and providing teachers and parents with information and support, we can reverse those delays and frustrations."

CEID is working closely with the Ardash School in Amritsar, India. What Ellis had faced earlier, a culture in the United States that often caused parents to hide their deaf children, is very similar to what R.P. Singh, who has worked for eleven years with deaf children at the Ardash School in India, is dealing with today. There is a small, but growing movement in India to step forward and identify early in a child's life how to provide access to learning, and maintain an equal opportunity for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. This could not have happened without R.P. Singh. He is very focused on opening the doors for these children, and keeping them open!"

"When I joined the organization," says Singh, "there were just 250 kids at the Ardash School, and 16 who were deaf. Since then, the number of children has truly grown. Now there are 543 children: 63 in the School of the Deaf, 205 who are mentally handicapped, and 30 in the Vocational Training Program. Taking this next step forward is very important to the Ardash School and the Indian Pingalwara Trust. Moving forward for the deaf children, it is important that we focus on the achievements accomplished by Ellis and her team of stars with the Sister City Project with CEID."

The purpose of creating a Sister City Project, partially funded by the Home of Hope, Inc., is to share cultural perspectives about deafness and educational opportunities for children who are deaf and hard of hearing. "Our shared goal is to nurture these children, and provide them with the same opportunities all children should have to reaching their full potentials," continues Ellis. "This requires that the families become involved, teachers and professionals receive continued training and support, and a strategic plan is in place."

CEID is committed to providing comprehensive early intervention services and supports to babies and young children who are deaf and hard of hearing, and their families, who reside anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Home of Hope, Inc. is a non-profit charitable organization, committed to providing a brighter future for underprivileged children and young adults. The dollars raised are used to improve the living conditions of orphaned, abandoned, physically/mentally challenged or otherwise disadvantaged youth.

Center for Early Intervention on Deafness
Contact Jill Ellis
(925) 323-6220

Home of Hope
Contact Nilima Sabharwal
(650) 520-3204

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