What is Auditory-Verbal Education?

When a child is diagnosed with hearing loss, the entire family has to come to terms with the condition. More than 90% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004). As a result, many parents wish to ensure that their child can develop spoken language.

While we know that no single approach can meet the individual needs of all children, studies show that hearing is essential to the development of spoken language (Sloutsky and Napolitano, 2003; Tallal, 2004). The evolution of hearing technology makes it possible to optimize access to sound in children with any degre of hearing loss, from mild to profound. Sound stimulates the auditory areas of the brain, responsible for auditory function. Neuroscience research suggests that if auditory function is not stimulated during the critical period of language learning during the first three years of life, the child’s ability to use the capacity of the brain to hear is significantly diminished (Sharma, Dorman, & Sphar, 2002).

Auditory-verbal education encourages the development of listening skills and is family-centred. It guides parents to become the primary stakeholders in the development of their child’s full potential for listening and spoken language. The fundamentals for this practice are based on the following 10 principles of the Alexander Graham Bell Academy 

  1. Promote early diagnosis of hearing loss in newborns, infants, toddlers, and young children, followed by immediate audiologic management and auditory-verbal therapy.
  2. Recommend immediate assessment and use of appropriate, state-of-the-art hearing technology to obtain maximum benefits of auditory stimulation.
  3. Guide and coach parents to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing listening and spoken language.
  4. Guide and coach parents to become the primary facilitators of their child’s listening and spoken language development through active consistent participation in individualized auditory-verbal therapy.
  5. Guide and coach parents to create environments that support listening for the acquisition of spoken language throughout the child’s daily activities.
  6. Guide and coach parents to help integrate listening and spoken language into all aspects of the child’s life.
  7. Guide and coach parents to use natural developmental patterns of audition, speech, language, cognition, and communication.
  8. Guide and coach parents to help their child self-monitor spoken language through listening.
  9. Administer ongoing formal and informal diagnostic assessments to develop individualized auditory-verbal treatment plans, to monitor progress and to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans for the child and family.
  10. Promote education in regular schools with peers who have typical hearing and with appropriate services from early childhood onwards.

Auditory-verbal education is the only practice focused on auditory access and auditory training in order to develop spoken language. It is therefore fair to say that auditory-verbal education is the only method that takes full advantage of the evolution of hearing technology.  It enables more and more children with hearing loss to develop listening and language skills. This means that students can be integrated into a regular school environment and can function without the need of an interpreter or the use of sign language (ASL, LSQ, Cued Speech or other).

To learn more, take a look at https://www.hearingfirst.org/lsl.

The Quebec Ministry of Education and the MOSD

The Montreal Oral School for the deaf (MOSD) is a private school in the public interest. It is a member of the private special needs schools network (REPAS) of the FEEP (Fédération des établissements d’enseignement privés) and of the Quebec Association of Independent Schools (QAIS).

Being “private in the public interest”, the MOSD is partly subsidized by the Quebec Ministry of Education. That is why the vast majority of students attending the school are referred by the school service centres and by the English-language school boards of the Greater Montreal area. Referrals can also be done by health professionnals or families. The goal is to achieve successful mainstreaming.

Furthermore, the Quebec Ministry of Education is also committed to the successful integration of children with hearing loss into their neighbourhood schools. To meet this objective, the ministry has granted a supra-regional mandate to the MOSD to support school personnel in all Quebec English language school boards that service students with hearing loss.

Auditory-Verbal Education in Canada

In Canada, auditory-verbal education is used in a variety of contexts, most often through mainstream integration programs. Apart from our school, only the Children’s Hearing and Speech Center of BC in British Columbia uses auditory-verbal education and offers self-contained elementary classes in order to eventually integrate children into the regular school environment. The MOSD was the first school in the country to open a preschool class for children with hearing loss, ages 3 to 6. This resulted in significant progress for a child’s language, cognitive, and social development.

The History

Since the foundation of the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf in 1950, students with hearing loss have learned to listen and speak. We therefore have more than half a century of experience in auditory-verbal education.

1950

Started with the parents

The Montreal Oral School for the Deaf was started by a group of parents who, in 1950, wanted to give their children with hearing loss the opportunity to learn to speak. These parents founded the Association of Education for Hearing Handicapped Children and established a preschool in Montreal. This first class of the Oral School welcomed 6 children from 3 to 6 years of age.

1953

Three years later – the need is obvious

Proving there was a real need for this type of education, in 1953 the school welcomed 42 students with hearing loss. Ahead of its time, the school promoted the use of hearing aids during all waking hours and the active participation of parents in instructional sessions. The importance of these two essential components of success was already recognized all those years ago. Partnership with the family continues to be part of our philosophy.

1963

Daniel Ling and Agnes Phillips arrive in Montreal

In 1963, Daniel Ling arrived in Montreal as a teacher specialized in deaf education. After obtaining a Ph.D. at the McGill Institute of Otorhinolaryngology, he continued his career in various Montreal institutions. A pioneer and visionary, he revolutionized educational methods for children who were deaf and hard of hearing and laid the foundation for the further development of listening and spoken language. He founded the International Committee on Auditory Verbal Communication (ICAVC), which became Auditory-Verbal International (AVI), the predecessor of the organization we know today, the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language.

Agnes Phillips, also contributed greatly to the integration of deaf children into mainstream schools in Montreal by putting in place a parent-infant program to support and guide parents with a hearing-impaired baby. In 1966, Daniel and Agnes implemented the McGill Project for Deaf Children to conduct research in early detection, and the diagnosis and management of hearing loss. In the 1970s, Daniel Ling and Doris Leckie established a master’s degree in auditory rehabilitation and teaching children with hearing loss to train specialized teachers. Unfortunately, this program was discontinued in 1992.

In 1993, as he observed the constant evolution of hearing technology, Dr. Ling suggested that the terms auditory oral, acoupedic and unisensory be replaced by auditory-verbal.

2004

Since

In 2004, the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf moved to its current location on Sainte-Catherine Street. Our programs serve more than 200 students and support school personnel in approximately 100 mainstream public schools. We hope to serve more students in the years to come. In addition, we are working closely with the various health professionals to develop a complementary service offering combined health and education interventions.

The Students

Students aged 0-21 benefit from MOSD services and programs.They are integrated in daycares, neighbourhood schools, or our special needs classes. The majority of students at the MOSD have bilateral hearing loss (loss in both ears) of different types and levels. When children reach school age (4 to 21), the Ministry of Education classifies these children with a code 44, which entitles them to specialized complementary support.

The following types of hearing loss are currently not covered by the classification:

  • Unilateral loss
  • Conductive loss
  • Minimal loss

Nonetheless, students with one of these types of hearing loss greatly benefit from MOSD programs and services, which help them avoid possible academic distress. Prevention is best!

The success rate of our students

The graduation rate of students that benefit from the support of the MOSD team is higher than that of their hearing peers.

More than 80% of graduates who have benefited from the programs and services of the MOSD continue their studies at the postsecondary level. Many of our students are fluent in more than one language. We are extremely proud of their many successes! See for yourself!

The Team

The MOSD team consists of approximately 50 members of staff and comprises teachers of the deaf, teacher assistants, early childhood educators, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, a behavioural specialist, a social worker and an administrative team. Highly qualified, strongly committed and engaged, all team members work in a daily close collaboration around one common and shared goal, namely the development of listening and spoken language by using auditory-verbal education.

Administrative Team

Luisa Cordoba

Director General

France Tassé

Director of pedagogy

and student services –

LSLS Cert. AVT

Liz Leahy

Director of finance

Marie-Josée Castellanos

Executive administrative

assistant

Tanya Soucy-Drouin

Administrative assistant

operations

Maude Chiasson

Office agent

Preschool Team

Kathryn Lee

Teacher

Catherine Bossé

Teacher of the deaf

Isabelle Gervais Chapman

Teacher of the deaf

Heather Reckling

Speech-language pathologist
LSLS Cert. AVT

Petti Deros

Early childhood

educator

Oliver Duquette

Early childhood

educator

Itzia Navarro

Early childhood

educator

Elementary Team

Andrea Lepore

Teacher of the deaf

Derek Ip

Teacher

Kristina Vlamakis

Teacher

Taylor Wright-Connors

Teacher of the deaf

Kristina Tidy

French Teacher

Zinta Biernis-Mateus

Speech-language

pathologist

Anita Quintana

Physical education

specialist

Teacher assistant

Shawn Thicke

Music specialist

Teacher assistant

Tasha Figueira

Ethics and religious

culture specialist

Behaviour specialist

Teacher assistant

Anne Trespaillé-Guemache

Teacher assistant

Mainstream Schooling Support Team

Lorraine Balfour

Speech-language

pathologist

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Debbie Brodkin

Teacher of the deaf

Itinerant educational

specialist

Robert Burns

Itinerant educational

specialist

Karen Coulombe

Teacher of the deaf

Itinerant educational

specialist

Laura Ferrara

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Lauren Fonzo

Teacher of the deaf

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Tracey Green

Teacher of the deaf

LSLS Cert. AVEd

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Gail Ham

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Stephen Ho

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Salvatore Piccolo

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Anna Sampogna

Itinerant Educational

specialist

Chaya Silber

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Laura Stulginskis

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Danna Frankel

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Patey Yeh

Itinerant Educational

Specialist

Audiology team

Jenny Alvarado

Audiologist

Irene Hoshko

Audiologist

Stéphanie Joly-Houde

Audiologist

Theodora Lappas 

Audiologist

Social worker

Clare Roper

Social worker

The Governance

Board of Directors

Paul Geraghty, chair

Paul Geraghty leads the North America practice at BPM Works, a marketing and sale enablement consultancy firm. He joined BPM Works in 2010 after a 20-year career at the $7.5b Markets Division of Thomson Reuters with assignments in London, Chicago, Palo Alto, New York, and Montreal. Mr. Geraghty graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with an Honours Degree in Business.

Mr. Geraghty became involved with the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf as the parent of Oscar. Oscar has profound sensorineural hearing loss and in 2012 he was implanted with simultaneous bilateral cochlear implants. Oscar and his family have been supported by the MOSD’s auditory-verbal educational and in-house audiology services, starting when he was 9 months old in the parent/infant program and graduating to the MOSD preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds. Oscar currently attends his local elementary school in Beaconsfield. MOSD’s itinerant teaching service puts an experienced teacher of the deaf at the school several times a week to offer assistance to both Oscar and his teacher. Mr. Geraghty is proud of Oscar’s many achievements and of the MOSD’s world-class team.

Miriam Taylor, co-chair

Miriam Taylor holds a PhD in Religious Studies from Oxford University and has a background in research, education, community outreach and advocacy. She currently works for the Association for Canadian Studies, an independent non-profit research institute, where she is the Director of Publications and Partnerships.

Ms. Taylor is also part of a team developing an online learning program and collaborates on national and international research initiatives. Her current research focuses on the costs of prejudice and discrimination and the evolution of multiple identities in Canada.

David Laidley, treasurer

David Laidley is Chairman Emeritus of Deloitte LLP, having retired from Deloitte in 2007 after a distinguished 40‐year career with the firm. While serving as Chairman of Deloitte LLP from 2000 to 2006, he was a member of the Global Board of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a member of the Governance Committee and Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee. In 2001, Mr. Laidley was elected a fellow of the Québec Order of Chartered Professional Accountants.

Currently, Mr. Laidley is a member of a number of Boards of Directors including CT REIT, EMCOR Group Inc. and Input Capital Corporation. He formerly served on the boards of Aimia Inc., Aviva Canada Inc., Bank of Canada, Nautilus Indemnity Holdings Limited, ProSep Inc., and on a number of other boards of private institutions and foundations. He has been active in a number of business and philanthropic organizations in Montreal, among which the Royal Victoria Hospital and the McGill Alumni Association. He graduated from McGill University in 1967 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

Pascale Mounier, secretary

Pascale Mounier has over 30 years of operational experience in companies and as a consultant. She dedicated her career to process rationalization and bringing together strategy, governance, finance and operation in a wide range of contexts for organization of all sizes, from multinationals (HP, Sanofi, Rio Tinto/Alcan, Desjardins) to SMEs (Brioche Dorée). She served on the Board of Directors of the Ubisoft group in France. Based on her experience, she offers coaching services to organizations committed to transforming their processes or managing special rationalization projects with an IT dimension. She is currently engaged in a new technology project in the domain of education.

Ms. Mounier’s involvement with the MOSD started as a volunteer for the Board of Directors in 2015 to help conduct the strategic plan and has never stopped since then. She is enthusiastic about how the MOSD’s approach and professionals help deaf and hard-of-hearing children integrate the hearing world.

Sonia Basili, director

Sonia Basili joined the Board of Directors after witnessing firsthand how the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf was able to help children with hearing loss reach their potential.

Ms. Basili is a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) in the province of Quebec and holds a B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University and an M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology from the University of Ottawa. She brings an international and multidimensional background to the Board, with expertise in human resources, talent acquisition, training, marketing, psychology and start-ups. Through her work in the cutting-edge and fast-paced domain of technology, her objective is to foster the development of this institution with a fresh perspective on serving the community.

Randall Birks, director

Randall Birks is the Chief Investment Officer and Vice-President at Birinco Inc., a Montreal-based merchant bank. Mr. Birks holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in Investment Management from Boston University, and completed his B.A. at McGill.

Mr. Birks is very engaged with broad community issues, particularly around economic efficiency and childhood education. In addition to the MOSD Foundation, he sits on the board of the MOSD. He is a Trustee of the Marchab Foundation, sits on the Board of Governors of the Montreal Economic Institute and is the Treasurer of Selwyn House School. Mr. Birks became engaged with the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf as he witnessed the organization’s success in the early support it provided to his daughter. He is proud to support a great team that helps students with hearing loss meet their potential in the hearing world.

Claudio Bussandri, director

Claudio Bussandri is the Chairman and founder of WorldWide Hearing Foundation International, and an active member of the Montreal health care and business communities. Though Mr. Bussandri developed severe hearing loss at a young age, its early diagnosis and continued treatment allowed him to continue his education and achieve success in the business world. He graduated with honours from McGill University with a Bachelor of Engineering in 1969, and subsequently obtained an M.B.A. from the same university in 1976.

Mr. Bussandri is the former President and CEO of McKesson Canada, the largest diversified healthcare services company in Canada. Prior to working for McKesson, he was President and CEO of Lantic Sugar Limited. Today, he is a board member of several business associations and is the former Chairman of the Board of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), a premier clinical, educational, and research-based institution.

Stephanie Hurlburt, director

Stephanie Hurlburt graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts in 2000. Upon returning to Montreal, she began volunteering in the MOSD Preschool to explore her interest in working with children with hearing loss. This experience led to her pursuit of a second Bachelor’s Degree of Social Work (2005) and a Masters of Social Work (2008), both from McGill University.

Upon graduation, Ms. Hurlburt returned to the MOSD and joined the Board of Directors for a year. In 2009, she began her career as a pediatric social worker at the Montreal Children’s Hospital (MCH) and worked with the Northern and Native Child Health Program from 2009 to 2017. She gained tremendous professional satisfaction while working with the MCH Northern Program team and its partners in the North.

In 2016, Ms. Hurlburt’s youngest child was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss. She and her family experienced firsthand how the MOSD and its staff can truly shift the trajectory of a child’s life. She and her family continue to be amazed with the school, its staff, and the extraordinary services they receive. She was delighted to rejoin the MOSD Board of Directors in 2019. She is able to draw on her experience as a social worker and as a parent of a child with hearing loss.

Honora Shaughnessy, director

Honora Shaughnessy holds a bachelor’s degree from Loyola College and a Master’s in library and Information Studies from McGill. After completing a 37-year career at McGill University she devotes her time to part-time and volunteer work.  Her work for McGill included positions as Senior Executive Director of Alumni Relations, Executive Assistant to Principals Johnston and Shapiro, Director of the McGill Equity Office and as an Associate Librarian in the University Library. Throughout her career, she has been active in national and international professional organizations and served executive and board positions on the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the Council of Alumni Association Executives and the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education.

In addition to her service on the board of the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf, Ms. Shaughnessy is a member of the Canadian Irish Studies Foundation and is a volunteer for the McGill Council on Palliative Care, the McGill Retiree Association, the Concordia Alumni Association, the NDG Food Depot and the Mount Royal Tennis Club.

Geoff Warren, director

Geoff Warren has spent his career in construction and facilities management. The last two decades, he has held senior management positions in highly regulated contract research organizations (CROs) that provide services to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Mr. Warren holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Concordia University and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from McGill University.

His first association with the MOSD was in 2004 when he managed the redesign and renovations of the existing facility for the school’s operations. Mr. Warren joined the MOSD Board of Directors in 2008 and held the position of President from 2012 to 2020. Prior to his involvement with the MOSD, he chaired the Willingdon Elementary School Governing Board.

Fern Grace Whitehouse, director

Fern Grace Whitehouse is a retired Partner of Willis Towers Watson, a worldwide leader in actuarial and human resources consulting. In her 35-year career Fern provided employee benefits advice to major corporations in Canada and the US, including Loblaw, George Weston Limited and Molson Coors. Her particular expertise was in the design and communication of health and disability programs and employee performance guidelines.

Ms. Whitehouse is an inveterate volunteer, having been President of the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association, President of the Mount Royal Tennis Club, Chairman of the Allegra Chamber Music ensemble and Treasurer of the Visual Arts Centre. She has also volunteered at the seniors’ day center of Saint Margaret in Westmount. She is pleased to be able to contribute to the ongoing success of the MOSD.

Joan Wolforth, director

Joan Wolforth spent most of her career developing and providing services for students with disabilities in post-secondary education and was an active researcher in the field. In 1985, she was the founding Coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities at Dawson College, where she worked for 12 years. She then moved to McGill University where she was Director of the Office for Students with Disabilities for 18 years until retirement. She holds a master’s degree in Counselling Psychology from McGill and a doctorate in Applied Psychology and Human Development from the University of Toronto.

Ms. Wolforth has been a member of the MOSD Board since 2019, though throughout her career she worked with students who had graduated from MOSD and entered postsecondary education. She has been a member of various boards related to disability issues both in Quebec, nationally and internationally. Other ongoing volunteer activities include arranging a variety of activities for the McGill University Retiree Association and the McGill Association of University Teachers Retirees Committee and helping prepare meals in the kitchen of the NDG Food Depot.

Guest members

Luisa Cordoba, Director general

France Tassé, Director of Pedagogy and Student Services

Susan Bell, Executive Director of the MOSD Foundation

Steve Hurlburt, President of the MOSD Foundation

Committee compositions

Executive Committee

Paul Geraghty, president

Miriam Taylor, vice-Presidente

David Laidley, treasurer

Pascale Mounier, secretary

Governance and HR Committee

Fern Whitehouse, Chair

Sonia Basili, Stephanie Hurlburt, Geoff Warren, Board members

France TasseLuisa Cordoba, Ad hoc members

Audit Committee

David Laidley, Chair

Randall BirksPaul Geraghty, Board members

Liz LeahyLuisa Cordoba, Ad hoc members

Strategic Committee

Joan Wolforth, Chair

Honora ShaughnessyPaul GeraghtyMiriam Taylor, Board members

France TasséSusan BellLuisa Cordoba, Ad hoc members

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