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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Listening is an important part of any student's school day. But that's a challenge for thousands of students across Kentuckiana. It is a challenge when they are deaf or hard of hearing. But one local school is helping those students learn just like any other child.
Most of the sights and sounds of the Heuser Hearing & Language Academy on East Kentucky are just like any other school.
"Are you ready? I will say the word, you pick the card," says a Heuser teacher. But look closely and you'll notice most of the students have hearing aids or cochlear implants -- a surgically implanted device that provides a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.
Most of the teachers wear microphones in class or cover their mouths, to make sure students are hearing and not just reading lips. "My parents didn't find out I was hearing impaired until I was five," says parent Karen Walker.
Walker grew up with severe hearing loss in both ears. She says, "It was hard to try to fit in with hearing children."
Walker recently learned her 3-year-old, Abigail, is also hard of hearing. "She has the same thing as I do," says Walker.
That's why she chose Heuser over a regular preschool. "She has so many friends that she talks about constantly and she loves the teachers and I've seen a big tremendous change in her since she started here," says Walker.
The school focuses on both hearing loss and speech and language delay.
Debra Garvue, with Heuser, says, "We start at birth and we go from birth to three with our parent infant program and then at age three they enter our academy. And here, we teach them total communication."
The goal is to help students make a smooth transition into school. Garvue says, "They have learned how to communicate, they have learned vocabulary so they are equal with the peers their age."
Equal, and just a vocal -- whether answering a question in class or relaying an important message.
"I need to go potty," says one student.
That's why Karen Walker feels confident her daughter will make a smooth transition to kindergarten next year. "It may be a little bit rough at first to start. I do believe that she will adjust very quickly," says Walker.
Most of the students at Heuser are referred and come from both Kentucky and Indiana.