In addition to grantmaking, the Oberkotter Foundation has invested in a number of activities throughout our 30+ year history to support and equip families of children with hearing loss and the professionals who work with them. Our Dreams Spoken Here film series was perhaps the most notable of those activities. However, in 2015 we launched Hearing First — our most significant contribution to the field to date.
Hearing First is a virtual connection point for families and professionals to improve outcomes for children who are deaf or hard of hearing through Listening and Spoken Language (LSL). A wholly-owned subsidiary of the Oberkotter Foundation, Hearing First is grounded in the understanding that hearing is the foundational building block for children to learn to listen and talk, become healthy readers and do well in school. Hearing powers language, literacy, dreams, opportunities and lifetime success. Hearing powers a child’s potential.
Today, children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to use spoken language through listening and can achieve literacy outcomes on par with their hearing friends. Every parent needs to know the status of their baby’s hearing first, because the earlier a child with hearing loss is identified, amplified and receiving help, the more opportunities that child will have.
Accessible entirely online and free of charge, the Hearing First digital ecosystem connects families and LSL professionals with resources to improve child outcomes.
- Hearing First Family Support Community: Launched in April 2017, the Family Support Community allows parents, caregivers and other family members to support each other through questions, responses, resources and inspirational stories regardless of geography, busy schedules or time zones.
- Hearing First Professional Learning Community: Launched in October 2016, the Professional Learning Community offers LSL professionals opportunities for discussion, learning and sharing across a wide range of interests and for all experience levels, from aspiring to advancing professionals.
- Hearing First Learning Experiences: Available to all Hearing First community members, Hearing First Learning Experiences are offered through state-of-the-art online technology and cover a wide-range of topics for families, professionals and other interested stakeholders desiring to improve outcomes for children with hearing loss. Many of the learning experiences offer continuing education credits, and a catalog of past and future learning experiences is available in the Hearing First community.
- Hearing First Website and Materials – Spanish: The entire Hearing First Website along with all of our downloadables and handouts are now available in Spanish. Visit the Hearing First website and click on your preferred language choice in the upper righthand corner.
- For more information and to learn about specific Hearing First resources that may be of interest to families and professionals, visit LSL Resources & Tools for Families.
In October 2018, Hearing First launched LSL Life, an online digital platform where visitors can watch inspirational videos and read stories celebrating the achievements of children who are deaf or hard of hearing and whose families have chosen Listening and Spoken Language. Come meet a group of children and young adults who were identified early with hearing loss, who received early access to hearing technology and LSL intervention services, and who are realizing the dreams their families have for them.