Children born with hearing disabilities are learning to speak; but the program is suffering

Local News

CHARLESTON, W.VA. (WOWK) – The Luke Lee Learning Center is a place for children born with hearing disabilities. Here, they can learn to speak without having to sign.

“Once we found out she was deaf, we didn’t know where to go from there,” says Melanie Quesenberry, the mother of 11-year-old Ella.

Ella was born deaf.

“When you get that diagnosis, it’s kind of like then what? What do you do?”

Today, you wouldn’t know Ella is hearing impaired.

Her mother says this was made possible by The Luke Lee Listening, Language and Learning Center, or ‘The L’.

“I mean it’s given Ella her future and it’s given me, my daughter’s voice,” says Melanie. “I get to hear her sing and dance. Seeing her up on stage, you know parents always get choked up and proud, but these are things I didn’t think was possible for my kid.”

‘The L’ is a program at Marshall University that helps 40-50 hearing impaired children a year.

“I mean that’s probably the best part of my job, getting to see the success of these kids,” says Jodi Cottrell, the program director at ‘The L’.

Cottrell loves her job, and wants the program to continue, but they’re running into financial problems.

The L’s budget has been slashed by the legislature from $170,000 to around $90,000. Cottrell hopes to change that this legislative session.

“This year because of our funding and really not having enough money to support the services we’re providing, we came back to educate our legislators,” says Cottrell.

Needing more funding, to get more resources, so we can have more success stories in the state of West Virginia; just like Ella’s.

“I was afraid I would never hear her voice,” says Melanie. “She sings constantly. I mean she drives her twin brother crazy singing in the car!”

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