Hope begins here.
As the only comprehensive hearing-healthcare program in Oklahoma that offers Auditory-Verbal Therapy in collaboration with audiological care in, we have provided services to families from every county in the state as well as families from other states in our region. Because our primary location is in Oklahoma City, we serve many families from the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, but we also have a significant number of families who travel the state turnpikes and highways weekly.
Hearts for Hearing’s focus is to make sure that each baby has the opportunity to hear as soon as possible thus, once a diagnosis is made, we work quickly to fit hearing aids; frequently, a baby may be fit with his/her first hearing aids within month one of life, in spite of a family’s ability to pay. We work closely with manufacturers, insurance companies and charitable organizations to obtain funding and discounted pricing. Once hearing aids are fit, we engage families in learning about “auditory living” so that they become their child’s primary therapist, along with coaching from our LSLS professionals.
We also need community friends to help us spread the word about what is possible for babies born deaf today. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of misinformation about cochlear implant technology and it is tragic that there are families who have not heard that because of early diagnosis, improved technology and auditory-verbal therapy, their baby can learn to listen and talk. Every day without hearing aids or a cochlear implant is a day without stimulation to a child’s growing brain and if families wait too long, listening and spoken language outcomes will not be possible. That is why we need champions in the community to share the amazing story of what is possible.
Lastly, a need that we have struggled with over the years is the challenge for families in rural Oklahoma to get the necessary care due to distance and lack of transportation. That need is being address through our telepractice initiative which has been funded through the generous support of the Oklahoma City Community Foundation I-Fund grant and a grant from the Sarkeys Foundation.
Joanna T. Smith is a founder and currently serves as the Executive Director of Hearts for Hearing. She has worked as a speech-language pathologist in the Oklahoma City area for over 35 years. Prior to the founding of Hearts for Hearing, Joanna served as the Program Director of the Hearing Enrichment Language Program of INTEGRIS Health at the Hough Ear Institute and under her leadership the program was selected as the 2005 Program of the Year by the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Ms. Smith has also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma.
Ms. Smith is one of nine Listening and Spoken Language Specialists, Certified Auditory-Verbal therapists in the state of Oklahoma and has been recognized by the Oklahoma Speech Language Hearing Association with the Gwen Cacy Award for outstanding clinical skills. She has also served on the Executive Board of OPTION schools International, the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language Job Analysis taskforce, and the Oklahoma Early Intervention Task Force for Children with Hearing Loss.
Joanna attended Oklahoma State University and graduated from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She has been married to her best friend for just under 40 years, has three incredible adult children, two of whom are married and spends her valuable free time “loving on little ones”, mentoring young women through Young Life, riding a tandem bicycle and gardening.
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