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Passion for helping children with hearing loss

Kelly Cook head shot

Kelly Cook

Kelly Cook is an audiology doctoral student at Illinois State who has a passion for helping children with hearing loss. Cook began her undergraduate career pursuing a major in elementary education at Augustana University, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was during this time that she was first introduced to American Sign Language and deaf culture.

“During my freshman year, one of my neighbors in the dormitory was deaf and used American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. This neighbor became my friend, and introduced me to ASL.”

Cook’s decision to pursue a double major in deaf education and elementary education, and to immerse herself in ASL classes and deaf culture, arose directly from this personal relationship with a member of the deaf community.

During her years working as a teacher of the deaf in Des Moines, Iowa, Cook successfully developed collaborative relationships with professionals in other fields, including audiology. “As a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, I collaborated with educational audiologists to maintain hearing assistive technology,” she said. “After several years of teaching, I decided to further my education in this field, because I recognized a unique opportunity to mediate the cultural and medical perspectives of deafness.”

Cook’s unique experiences continue to inform her approach to clinical work. “Communication is essential for effective interprofessional collaboration between teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing and educational audiologists,” she said. “These professionals should identify their roles and responsibilities and support each other in addressing the needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

As Cook pursues this next stage in her career, she is confident that her deep understanding of the educational impact of hearing loss and her experience building rapport and trust with deaf children and their families will only make her a stronger clinician, colleague, and advocate.

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