SULPHUR, Okla. – The Oklahoma School the Deaf School is re-launching an in-home, family support program for children in Oklahoma with hearing loss ages 3-6 years.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education funds Project ECCO (Enriching Children’s Communications Opportunities) to help families obtain essential skills and knowledge that empowers them to navigate the world of hearing loss.
Through weekly home visits made by a parent advisor, families receive information and training in areas such as language development, communication options, care of audiological equipment, the grieving process and addressing additional disabilities or needs.
The parent advisors lead families in natural activities to meet their unique needs, build interactive communication with their children and increase knowledge about deafness and hearing loss.
OSD will incorporate deaf mentors, so parents have the opportunity to have interaction with deaf and hard of hearing adults.
OSD also intends to use video conferencing programs and apps to meet the needs of today’s families who may be short on time, or who may live long distances from locations where advisors are readily available.
The ECCO program first came to Oklahoma in the mid 1970’s and has always been through the collaboration between OSDE and OSD as funding permitted.
The early incarnations of ECCO followed the SKI-HI curriculum which was created in the early 1970’s at Utah State University.
SKI-HI is the only curriculum that specializes in early intervention programs specific to hearing loss. Today, they also provide training on visual impairments and deaf–blind interventions.
OSD will use of the SKI-HI materials in the re-launch, as well.
“All of the research on early intervention has shown the importance of providing services as early as possible in obtaining more successful outcomes,” Larry Hawkings, OSD superintendent said. “With deaf children, the sooner the language process begins, the more prepared the children are to enter school and be more successful as adults later in life.”
The ECCO program emphases the language process, as well as helps families learn to incorporate language development and communication in their daily lives. This is all the more imperative for families that may not be geographically close to OSD or other Deaf education services.
As the state resource center on deafness, OSD has more than a 100-year history of providing educational resources to deaf and hard of hearing students, ages 2 through 12th grade, throughout the state of Oklahoma.
School staff serve students at the main campus in Sulphur and two early childhood centers for ages 2 years through 3rd grade in Chickasha and birth through 5 years in Edmond.
OSD offers strong academic programs with highly qualified staff in their content areas, as well as Deaf Education.
Extracurricular opportunities include sports, such as football, basketball, volleyball, track and golf. OSD also offers clubs and organizations, including academic teams, Key Club, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, math and reading teams, gymnastics, art club, National Honor Society and cheerleading.
The OSD Key Club is the only Key Club for schools for the deaf in the United States.
“OSD’s extracurricular activities afford the OSD students that same opportunities for full participation in rich activities that hearing students may experience in public schools,” Hawkins said.
OSD is a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.
For more information about OSD's athletics other programs and services, contact the school at 580-622-4900 or visit http://www.osd.k12.ok.us/.