Mobile unit to provide greater reach for services for children across state


Photo courtesy of Stasi Bara.

Photo courtesy of Stasi Bara.

The Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education, based in Meadow Brook, recently launched its Mobile Resource for Kids.

The Mobile Resource for Kids truck will serve children who are deaf or hard of hearing across the state of Alabama, specifically those living in rural areas with limited access to care.

The 36-foot mobile clinic is outfitted with equipment for a team of family educators, pediatric audiologists and Listening and Spoken Language specialists/Certified Auditory Verbal therapists. They travel across the state to provide newborn hearing screening follow-ups, audiological services, speech therapy, school/daycare screenings and family education.

Partnering with Alabama’s early intervention system, local school systems and private and public entities, WISE offers services for deaf and hard-of-hearing children that focus on preparing to enter mainstream schools and fully participate in hearing society. 

The need for a mobile unit that could travel to rural areas became apparent several years ago. WISE director Nancy Gregg said that when a child is deaf or hard of hearing, it is critical that they receive timely diagnosis and treatment. 

Gregg said she is optimistic about what the Mobile Resource for Kids truck will accomplish in terms of early diagnosis and raising awareness. 

“The mobile unit will help families in underserved areas overcome barriers to receiving care,” she said. “We hope to improve outcomes for children in Alabama.”

In rural areas of Alabama, audiology and therapy resources for infants who have hearing loss can be difficult to find, and Gregg said the WISE mobile unit will provide “greater access to family-centered, community-based, care for children and their families.” 

“It will help strengthen families by providing education and resources closer to home,” Gregg said. 

Along with aiding children who are deaf and hard of hearing, WISE also provides services to children who have communication delays, including comprehensive in-person therapy, teletherapy and educational programs designed to teach skills for talking, listening and interacting with peers. 

WISE was founded in 1991 by Dr. Robert L. Baldwin and originally called the Birmingham Ear Institute. The organization currently has 27 employees at their offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Decatur and Boaz. The WISE Preschool, located in Meadow Brook off U.S. 280, is committed to teaching deaf children to speak. 

The staff includes audiologists, speech-language pathologists, Certified Listening and Spoken Language specialists, deaf and early childhood educators, early intervention developmental specialists and coordinators and support staff. They have over 80 years combined experience working with children with hearing loss.

Therapy is conducted either in the family home or the child’s daycare setting. Individual family service plans may also include physical, occupational and speech-language therapy. 

Early intervention services are offered at no cost to families and are available in Jefferson, Shelby, Mobile, Baldwin and Madison counties.

The Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education offers a website,, for parents to learn about American Sign Language, listening and speaking therapies and other resources for children with hearing loss.

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