General Sessions

Friday, July 19

Embracing Change: A New Paradigm for Listening and Spoken Language

Donald Goldberg, Ph.D., CCC-SLP/A, LSLS Cert. AVT, AG Bell President
Lyn Robertson, Ph.D., AG Bell Academy President

Financial — No relevant financial relationships exist.
Nonfinancial — No relevant nonfinancial relationships exist.

Join the leadership of AG Bell and the AG Bell Academy as we celebrate our past and embrace the changing paradigm for the future. For children who are deaf and hard of hearing today, the sky is the limit. They have greater opportunity to develop listening and spoken language thanks to universal newborn hearing screening, which identifies hearing loss within the first days of life—rather than the first years of life—a pivotal difference for children, their parents, and the Listening and Spoken Language Specialists that serve them. Moreover, advances in hearing technology are giving children unparalleled access to sensitive hearing and connectivity to assistive listening devices, while the Internet gives parents around the world a wealth of information at their fingertips at any time through the Listening and Spoken Language Knowledge Center. This session will explore the contributions played by our field’s pioneers, while highlighting the vital roles played by today’s growing number of qualified professionals. Learn more about what you can do to be as part of this paradigm shift and lead the field into the future!

Donald M. Goldberg, Ph.D., CCC-SLP/A, LSLS Cert. AVT, is a professor, The College of Wooster (Ohio), a staff consultant for the and Neck Institute's Hearing Implant Program at the Cleveland Clinic and president of AG Bell. Goldberg is a world leader in the assessment ofinfants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children and adults who are deaf orhard of hearing, and the auditory-based (re)habilitation of recipients ofunilateral or bilateral cochlear implants. Co-Author of "EducationalAudiology for the Limited Hearing Infant and Preschooler: An Auditory-VerbalApproach" (Pollack, Goldberg, & Caleffe-Schenck, 1997), Goldberg is the author of numerous research articles and is an international, national, andlocal presenter in the areas of cochlear implants, auditory-verbal therapy,speech-language-auditory assessment, educational audiology and counseling.

Lyn Robertson, Ph.D. is a professor of education in the Departmentof Education of Denison University and president of the AG Bell Academy. She also currently serves as the directorfor the J. W. Alford Center for Service Learning at Denison. She began her career teaching seventh grade English, where she discovered students achievingat low levels in reading and writing. This led her to extensive study of literacy. Robertson holds an M.A. in reading and language from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in readingand cognition from The Ohio State University. She has written articles and two books aboutlistening, language learning, and reading, “Literacy and Deafness: Listeningand Spoken Language” and “Literacy Learning for Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing” with Carol Flexer, Ph.D.

Saturday, July 20

Project ASPIRE: Addressing Language Disparities for Children with Hearing Loss

Dana Suskind, M.D., Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics and Director, Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program, University of Chicago

Financial — No relevant financial relationships exist.
Nonfinancial — No relevant nonfinancial relationships exist.

Presentation Summary:

Universal newborn hearing screening and technological advances in hearing aids and cochlear implants have provided many children with hearing loss the opportunity to achieve outcomes comparable to their typically developing peers. However, children with hearing loss born into poverty do not always have access to these opportunities. Due to the social determinants of health and their persisting effects, these children are separated from their more affluent peers by a significant achievement gap that mirrors the educational achievement gap for peers with typical hearing and development. These disparities result in profound consequences for children with hearing loss. For our field to succeed in its mission of allowing every child to reach his or her potential, we must all gain a deeper awareness of the disparities among groups of differing socioeconomic status (SES) and create initiatives that are designed to mitigate them.

This session will explore one such initiative, Project ASPIRE, from the University of Chicago Pediatric Hearing Loss Program. This multi-media intervention targets families from low SES backgrounds and seeks to enrich the early language environments of children with hearing loss by increasing the quantity and quality of parent and caregiver talk. Families are provided with information and strategies to enhance their children’s early language learning environment through authentic family videos and animation examples. The Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system is used to provide feedback that supports families in changing their linguistic behavior. Dr. Suskind will present preliminary research results and share examples of Project ASPIRE’s multimedia platform and its implications for families of all children with hearing loss.


Dr. Suskind is a professor of surgery and pediatrics in the Section of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and directs the Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program at the University of Chicago. Her research, funded by a three-year grant from the Institute of Education Science, is dedicated to addressing health disparities, specifically early language disparities, through the development of novel multimedia intervention programs that combine parent education with quantitative linguistic feedback. She has conceptualized and initiated development and evaluation of two parent-directed, home-visiting interventions: Project ASPIRE and the Thirty Million Words Project. These interventions, for parents of children with hearing loss and parents of typically developing children respectively, aim to improve child outcomes through parent enrichment of the early language environment.