Grant awarded to Education of the Deaf Program at Southern Miss

Hattiesburg - This is a news release from the University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi's Education of the Deaf program, in its College of Health's Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, has received its second $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. This five-year grant provides full-tuition scholarships to support the training of 40 specialists enrolled in the Master of Science in Education of the Deaf with a concentration in Early Oral Intervention.

"We are one of only three such programs in the country that focuses on training teachers of the deaf to become specialists in early intervention," said Dr. Marietta Paterson, director of the Education of the Deaf program and co-author of the grant. "There is a critical national shortage of specialists trained to work with deaf children – especially in the area of listening and spoken language."

Dr. Christina Perigoe, coordinator of the master's program and co-author of the grant, said, "We train professionals to teach children with hearing loss, birth to age 6, to listen and talk. A big focus is on working with families, so that the parents learn how to use hearing technology, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants."

"Hearing loss has been described as a neurological emergency because the listening brain, where language is decoded, is waiting for sound," said Paterson. "Every level of hearing loss is educationally significant. In other words, it puts the child at risk for language development as well as academic achievement."

Every day in the U.S. 33 children are born with hearing loss, meaning approximately 70-90 children with hearing loss are born each year in Mississippi. Helping these children learn to listen and talk is the goal of specialists trained in the graduate program in Early Oral Intervention.

"We are looking for students with backgrounds in early childhood, speech and hearing sciences, special education, deaf education, or regular education who are passionate about helping infants and young children who are deaf or hard of hearing," said Perigoe.

"The Early Oral Intervention program is the only one of its type in the southeastern U.S.," said Dr. Steven Cloud, chair of the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. "We are thrilled to provide funding to graduate students who pursue this specialty."

For more information about the Master of Science in Education of the Deaf, Early Oral Intervention program, visit or  or