PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing has been around for a long time. Formerly only known as the Baxter School For the Deaf, many Maine people are aware of what services are offered, but there are even more who aren't.
"Statewide, we are looking at more than 800 we know of that could be serviced... and we want to be the go-to agency for schools with kids who are deaf and hard of hearing and we are building that reputation" says O.J. Logue, the Executive Director Of Maine Educational Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Mackworth Island has become the host site of the organizations pre-school program. Kids can learn through American Sign Language, spoken language, or both. Believe it or not, that's not a common choice that families are given nationwide according to Corri O'Brion, the Early Childhood & Family Services Coordinator "Often times families are given the choice of one or the other... You may only have access to an ASL teacher or you may only have access to a spoken language teacher. Because we are scaling it back to say here's what there options are. Because they may want to relocate if they know that services can be available to them but if they don't know they are available to them, they won't be looking for it"
The innovate program offered in Maine has garnered some national attention... It's working in the Pine Tree State so others, want in....
"We have had 10 different states come to this program and observe and learn and look from us and it is really going viral which is exciting to see" said Karen Hopkins the Director of Statewide Education & Family Services.
There is currently a bill is being worked on in the legislature which will ensure that up through pre-school, deaf and hard of hearing kids are assessed every 6 months so that they are kindergarten ready when they get to that point.