Songs for Sound is a 501c3 charity founded on a heartwarming story & a passionate objective: to provide AWARENESS OF hearing loss solutions, ACCESS TO hearing loss testing and devices and encourage ACTION for those suffering from hearing loss and deafness. Songs for Sound aims to provide everyone with an opportunity to live a mainstream life full of sound and language, and of course, MUSIC.
Let love be our greatest aim. 1 Corinthians 14:1
by Jaime Vernon
When our daughter Lexi was born in 2007, for some reason she was not given a newborn hearing screening at our Nashville hospital. With all the excitement of a healthy new baby we didn’t realize we had missed a test.
At a hearing evaluation when she was 10 weeks old, the doctor said Lexi passed in one ear, but they couldn’t get a good read on the other ear “because she is fussy”. We were advised to follow up in six months.
When Lexi was 10 or 11 months of age, we noticed she wasn’t responding to loud noises such as dogs barking. She wasn’t trying to mimic sounds or first words as is developmentally appropriate at that age. We thought she had fluid in the ear or something else minor causing her to not hear well, but to be safe we made an appointment with our pediatrician.
The pediatrician told us, “She’s fine; let’s wait. Some children don’t talk until 18 months of age.” Despite this assurance, we felt we needed confirmation and pushed to get a referral to a specialist. This is where our story really begins.
One month after the pediatrician’s assessment, we made our way to the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center in Nashville. The audiologist ran additional tests and told us that Lexi was in fact deaf. She was diagnosed with a profound, bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss.
As a parent, you’re only allowed a few moments to process. So I collected myself and rattled off terms I knew, like sign language, special schools, etc. That was the day we first heard about the cochlear implant. And that changed everything.
At that point, we met David Haynes, M.D., Director of Vanderbilt’s cochlear implant program. We call him our “hearing healer” for all he has done for our family, including both implantations. The right ear was activated on a Friday and her left ear activated the following Monday. Lexi was 19 months old.
Lexi was essentially in a soundless world for a year and a half leading up to her activation day. She immediately started speech therapy and began attending Vanderbilt’s Mama Lere Hearing School, which integrates with a mainstream preschool a couple days a week so the students with hearing loss are exposed to talkative children.
What has brought us where we are today? Technology (Cochlear Americas Freedom implant, Nucleus 6 processor & wireless mini microphones; and Phonak’s wireless Roger accessories); quality doctors and speech therapists; and most importantly, the hard work Lexi has done herself.
Lexi is in third grade at an academically challenging mainstream school. She sounds just like her peers and excels in fastpitch softball and basketball. At age 9, she can pitch a 41 mph softball and her basketball team just won its third championship after three consecutive undefeated seasons.
Still, Lexi does face challenges. She hears with a device that is not her natural hearing. We are constantly evaluating the unique challenges that being deaf and hearing through a cochlear implant poses in the classroom, in sports, at home, and with general communication. We prefer to cast her “hearing loss” as a “hearing gain” and are so proud that she lets nothing stand in the way of pursuing and excelling at the things she loves.
Every Mission Begins with a Problem
The problem? People living with hearing loss and deafness are being missed and missing out on the sounds that give us language, hope, laughter, music. There is a breakdown from “I think I have a hearing loss” to knowing what, how & where to get help. Lexi’s story is not uncommon – it applies to millions of people across the globe.
The solution? Lexi’s parents, Jaime and Kevin Vernon, started Songs for Sound, Inc. in 2011 with music-driven outreach including a no-cost mobile hearing clinic, awareness & benefit concerts, military programs, family programs and international mission work. Their mission is to make sure everyone has access to the same quality of care they fought to get for Lexi.
This problem seems so complicated, yet it’s actually pretty simple. SFS makes people aware of hearing loss. We show them how to treat it, prevent it and restore hearing. SFS provides access to diagnosis with free hearing tests. Then we refer to the best Audiology/ENT practices so people can choose an informed course of action. When Audiology or ENT isn’t available, then we make it available through clinic launches, teletherapy, transportation services, mission trips. Whatever it takes, SFS vows to make it possible for someone to hear and learn spoken language if that is what they choose.
Who do we serve? Each year we serve all demographics across the United States at 16-25 large annual weekend events such as Veterans Expos, Air Shows, State Fairs, Health Expos, Music Festivals, etc., as well as over 200 weekday events with community stops at the YMCA and other health clubs, Senior Centers, Del Webb communities, Boys and Girls Clubs, Veterans organizations, preschools in underserved areas, etc. We also serve internationally in Jamaica.
We serve as a voice of awareness, access & action for everyone with a focus on high-risk hearing loss populations: veterans, senior citizens, underserved children and musicians.
SFS also builds strategic bridges for legislation that makes hearing solutions more affordable and accessible. We won’t stop until everyone has the ability to go from “I think I have hearing loss” to “I can hear”.