Dr. Jodi Cottrell of the College of Health Professions recently passed her credentialing and is now the only Listening and Spoken Language Specialist-Auditory-Verbal Educator (LSLS-AVEd) in West Virginia.
Cottrell, a program director in the Department of Communication Disorders, said she has been working on this certification for 3 ½ years.
“This was a long and rigorous process, which required 900 hours of teaching children with hearing loss and speech disorders,” Cottrell said. “As the program director for Marshall’s Luke Lee Listening Learning Language Lab, I wanted to meet this credential to become a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist with the specific credential of AVEd, or Auditory Verbal Educator. This was very important for my professional development to provide specialized services that allow our children to learn something most of us take for granted: how to listen and talk.”
Wendelyn DeMoss, an LSLS-certified speech language pathologist in Oklahoma City, served as one of Cottrell’s mentors. DeMoss said the Alexander Graham Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language has specific criteria for certification, including continuing education hours, direct patient contact experience, observation by certified professionals and 20 hours of mentoring over a three- to- five-year period.
“Jodi is now the first professional in the state of West Virginia to earn the LSLS credential, which means that she has the qualifications to provide listening and spoken language services to infants and children who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as mentor other professionals toward the certification,” DeMoss said. “The families that Jodi serves can be confident in the standard of care they are receiving because of the specialty credential Jodi earned to demonstrate her competency. She will also be a valuable consultant to other health and education professionals within the state.”
Sherri Fickenscher of the Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Pennsylvania also served as one of Cottrell’s mentors toward her LSLS certification. Fickenscher said approximately three in 1,000 babies are born with permanent hearing loss, making hearing loss one of the most common birth defects in America. However, most children with hearing loss who receive appropriate services from trained staff are able to progress at age-appropriate rates, according to The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.
“There is a crisis of capacity in the United States with regard to well-qualified professionals available to provide this important service so that every child, no matter where they live, has equal access to this opportunity,” Fickenscher said. “It is significant that West Virginia and specifically the Luke Lee program now have built-in capacity through Jodi to expand the opportunities for children in the state. I hope Jodi will continue to receive the support needed to continue to enhance the program, provide more education to professionals in the state and continue to serve the children of West Virginia.”