Cherese Meadows Lee
Founder, The Luke Lee Listening, Language and Learning Lab at Marshall University
When her son Luke was born with hearing loss and following her family's move to Southern West Virginia, Cherese found that services to children with hearing difficulties were very limited in that part of the state. That's when she set out on a mission to help children like Luke by working to establish services for children with hearing loss.
She gave up her position as a nurse and began to do research on the topic to find ways to help children like Luke. She organized a town meeting in Huntington. Later, Cherese met with West Virginia Department of Education officials hoping to receive one year of funding for a program. Thanks to her hard work, lawmakers not only funded the program for three years, but The Luke Lee Listening, Language and Learning Lab is part of the state's annual budget. The L as it often referred to, which operates at Marshall University, opened in 2006 and since that time, has provided service free to children who have profound hearing loss, cochlear implants or hearing aids.
The L was founded as the first preschool program in West Virginia providing listening and spoken language outcomes to children with hearing loss. The program provides services to children from infants to toddlers to preschoolers to school-age to achieve a listening and spoken language outcome and allow them to mainstream into their home schools with age-level listening and spoken language skills to communicate with their hearing aged peers.
The goal of the L is to teach deaf children to listen and speak through the use of hearing technology, including hearing aids and cochlear implants. The program is for hearing impaired children from infants through school aged whose families choose for their children to communicate through listening and spoken language. Children who are hearing impaired and use hearing aids or a cochlear implant are eligible for services. The program teaches parents and/or caregivers the knowledge and skills to develop their child's listening and spoken language through the use of their hearing with proper hearing technology. The program focus is to begin audio logic treatment and therapy early, with infants or at diagnosis, to promote normal speech and language development.