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Computer Donated To Deaf Child In Virginia

Jeanne Johnson
Radford University

Six-year-old Lauren Sellers of Christiansburg, Virginia, was born deaf; but she now has, thanks to the Scottish Rite Foundation of Virginia, a new way to communicate with those who don’t know sign language.

The foundation has been active in supporting Radford University’s Speech and Hearing Summer Clinic, which Sellers attends, donating gifts worth more than $110,000 since 1993. The clinic helps children overcome speech and communication problems through assisted reading, dramatic play, storytelling, and art.

During the academic year, the Foundation also funds four graduate level scholarships in Radford University’s Communication Sciences and Disorders Department. During the summer, it funds the Speech and Hearing Summer Clinic, including workers and supplies.

This year, the Foundation’s support went one step further and bought Lauren a Macintosh computer with a CD-ROM drive. Lauren’s mother, Rebecca Sellers, said Lauren plays educational games on the computer and is learning to use a word processing program so that she can communicate with those who don’t know sign language. Ann Harrell, Clinic Director, points out that besides helping her now, the computer can be adapted to answer door bells, perform household tasks, or do many other things that hearing people take for granted.

Parents and guardians agree that besides being fun, the clinic gets results. For a parent like Stephanie Trueheart, the results can bring tears. For example, when her three-year-old son used the word graduation:“I just couldn’t believe it. His speech has improved by leaps and bounds. When I tell him it’s time to go to speech, he jumps up and down and shouts, Yeah!”

Each year, Scottish Rite members visit the clinic to observe and interact with the children. “It’s a wonderful thing,” said the late Arney Dalton, 33°, who was Radford University’s Scottish Rite liaison. Dalton and other members of the Roanoke Lodge of Perfection spent countless hours serving as ambassadors for Radford University and the clinic.

As Ill. Bro. Dalton often said, “Nothing disturbs me more than seeing children suffer, and nothing uplifts me more than seeing children happy. We Freemasons do this for the children.”