UNC Health Care
Illustration of a small child with a cochlear implant

UNC program that teaches deaf children to listen and talk opens branch in Wilmington

March 12, 2007

UNC program that teaches deaf children to
listen and talk opens branch in Wilmington

CHAPEL HILL – A UNC Health Care program that teaches deaf children how to listen and talk has opened a satellite branch in Wilmington, N.C.

For the last 5 years, the W. Paul Biggers, MD Carolina Children’s Communicative Disorders Program has operated a center in Durham called CASTLE (Center for Acquisition of Spoken language Through Listening Enrichment). The program is operated by the Department of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

The opening of a new CASTLE branch in Wilmington, is currently based at Granny’s Daycare at 107 Marshall Court, will bring services and training closer to families and schools in southeast North Carolina, said Carolyn Brown, the program’s director. Later this year the program plans to move into a facility being built next door.

“CASTLE in Wilmington will provide direct services to children and their families, including auditory-based intervention, evaluations, and a model preschool program.”

“CASTLE in Wilmington will provide direct services to children and their families, including auditory-based intervention, evaluations, and a model preschool program,” Brown said. “The program will ultimately have two classrooms serving ages 2-3 and 4-5. In addition, CASTLE will serve as a base for professional training and mentoring, made available both to surrounding public school districts and to the early interventionist educators who work with the 0-3 age group.”

Clinical otologic and audiology services, as well as cochlear implant evaluations, will continue to be provided only at UNC facilities in Durham and Chapel Hill.

The CASTLE Wilmington site is funded by grants from The Duke Endowment and the Cape Fear Memorial Foundation. Opening this branch is the program’s first step towards establishing a more comprehensive statewide program, Brown said.

Brown said that with the development of advanced technologies, supported by the appropriate school and family-based interventions, most children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have the potential to develop spoken language. This can allow them direct access to mainstreamed education and the potential to become fully productive and enfranchised citizens. After receiving access to these technologies and appropriate interventions, many North Carolina children are now entering kindergarten with self-confidence and age-appropriate language skills.

“The rapidly increasing number of children receiving cochlear implants has posed a significant challenge, especially to educators and policymakers.”

The rapidly increasing number of children receiving cochlear implants has posed a significant challenge, especially to educators and policymakers, Brown said. Most professionals working with deaf children have been trained to teach using sign language and were not necessarily prepared by their university training programs to meet the new demands involved in developing spoken language in deaf children who are accessing advanced hearing technology.

By providing these services, UNC’s program hopes to help more deaf and hard of hearing children access spoken language through the professionals in their own North Carolina public school districts.

For more information about CASTLE in Wilmington, please contact Maegan Evans (mkevans@unch.unc.edu) or Francisca Hernandez (fhernand@unch.unc.edu) at 910-686-4304 (para espanol 910-686-4324).

For information about CASTLE in Durham, please contact Hannah Eskridge (hruark@unch.unc.edu) at 919-419-1428.

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Media contact: Stephanie Crayton, (919) 966-2860 or scrayton@unch.unc.edu

ABOUT UNC HEALTH CARE
The UNC Health Care System is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. It exists to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina and to provide state-of-the-art patient care. UNC Health Care is comprised of UNC Hospitals, ranked consistently among the best medical centers in the country; the UNC School of Medicine, a nationally eminent research institution; community practices; home health and hospice services in seven central North Carolina counties; and Rex Healthcare and its provider network in Wake County.