An Early Intervention Auditory/Verbal Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
The mission of Sound Start is to teach children who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen, speak and understand spoken language so they may be successful in a mainstream educational setting.
With improvements in the technology of digital hearing aids and cochlear implants, deaf children now have access to speech as never before. To use this technology to its greatest potential, early intervention is critical to ensure success.
Before Sound Start, there was no intensive auditory/verbal therapy program in our region for families wanting their child with hearing loss to develop spoken language. Since our beginning in 2007, we have had students from all surrounding counties.
The Auditory/Verbal program consists of children whose families have chosen a method of communication that does not use sign language.
Our program is intensive, meeting 5 times a week, with a student-teacher ratio of no more than 4:1. Speech and language therapy is provided in both group and individual settings. Audiological support is available daily in addition to Occupational therapy as needed through Savannah Speech & Hearing.
Developing independent communication through listening and speaking is our primary focus, while actively encouraging the healthy development of pre-academic, pre-literacy and social skills.
We also offer a Toddler & Me program at Sound Start for families with very little ones who are deaf and/or new recipients of auditory amplification devices. We focus on equipping parents with effective techniques to help their child progress in developing listening and spoken language skills.
Any child with a hearing loss affecting speech and language development is eligible for the program. The family must be supportive of the auditory/verbal method for learning speech and language as well as committed to participate in development training.
Children applying must participate in an initial evaluation assessing cognitive, speech, language and auditory development skills.
Contact Dr. Sheana Richardson, Au.D., at (912) 355-4601 or Email Us to find out more and receive an application to our program.
Financial Aid is available based on a sliding-scale fee and applications can be requested following acceptance to Sound Start.
As an approved recipient of the Apogee Georgia School Choice Scholarship Fund, Georgia taxpayers can redirect part of their State Income Tax to Savannah Speech & Hearing and Sound Start. Find out more at Apogee123.org!
What Makes this Program Different?
The program is very intensive, meeting 5 days a week.
Speech and language therapy is provided in group and individual settings.
Our staff is trained to facilitate independent communication using an Auditory/Verbal approach to learning.
Equipment and mapping needs are closely monitored with Audiological support available daily.
Occupational therapy is available on-site.
We have an open door policy with parents encouraged to observe and participate in the program and therapy.
History of Sound Start
Photo by Ann Curry
In January 2007 the Board of Directors of Savannah Speech and Hearing Center approved an auditory/verbal program for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. With overwhelming staff and community support as well as a coordinated effort with Calvary in Savannah, Sound Start opened its doors. Sound Start was full with 6 children ranging in ages from 2-6. Being able to provide a service never before available in this area was an overwhelming success.
On March 5, 2008 Sound Start received full accreditation from the Georgia Accreditation Commission. We are accredited as an Educational Agency with Special Purposes.
Today, we are certified by The Georgia Accrediting Commission, meeting all the necessary standards as an educational program for ages 2 – 6.
Dr. Tracy Edenfield – Program Director
Photo by Ann Curry
Dr. Edenfield received her Doctorate of Education in Curriculum Studies from Georgia Southern University on May 8, 2020. The title of her dissertation is “Performing Identities of Auditory-Verbal Deaf Students in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Performative Memoir.” Dr. Edenfield is Program Director of Sound Start.
Effingham Magazine Featured an article about Tracy Edenfield, Sound Start’s teacher, in its October/November 2015 Issue, linked below.