The Woolley Institue for Spoken Language launches new mobile unit for rural Alabama

Mobile unity providing hearing screenings for children
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - There is a new mobile unit that will help children with possible hearing issues.

The Woolley Institute for Spoken Language unit travels a few times a week to rural areas to provide hearing screenings and diagnostics.

The idea behind the mobile unit came from discussions about many folks in rural areas having limited access to this type of care.

Nationally, one in four babies miss their follow up screenings after their newborn hearing screening and this is mainly due to lack of access to care.

Leigh Ann Alexander, an audiologist said, “The standard right now is one, three, and six. We want to have all those babies screened by one-month, diagnostic testing by three months and early intervention by six months.”

Audiologists and others work as a team inside the unit to provide hearing tests and screenings.

Audiologist Helen lee Miles added, “We will also have therapists who will be providing listening and spoken language therapy or auditory verbal therapy as well as parent educators or other people like that.”

The mobile unit is fully equipped with equipment, a sound booth, therapy room and a variety of testing tools.

“So, if we can take the mobile unit out and see those babies then we can get intervention involved earlier. Then by the time they enter kindergarten they are on par with their hearing peers,” said Alexander.

So far since receiving the truck back in April, the mobile unit has screened 201 children with plans to visit more very soon.

“Like going to a local school, public school system doing some screenings for their students, we can also park at places like a family resource center if they have that in their community or any kind of health fairs,” Miles said.

At this time, with the resources and staff they have available, the mobile unit will travel to Tuscaloosa County, Hale County and other places in about a two-hour radius from Birmingham.

After identifying children with hearing loss audiologists will connect their families with the appropriate resources in their community for diagnostics and follow-up care.

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