#childsafety | Parents of hearing-impaired kids get help through Bright School Resource Center | Entertainment/Life


When Kelley Hill’s daughter Vivien was born with a hearing problem, she quickly discovered a place that promised Vivien a quality education and treatment — The Bright School, a New Orleans nonprofit agency focused on developing speech and language skills in children who are deaf, hard of hearing or language delayed.

Vivien, now 2 years old, received cochlear implants after she turned 1; she began attending The Bright School shortly afterward. Hill says Vivien has blossomed ever since. However, Hill has struggled to find local guidance for herself and fellow parents in helping their children succeed.

“Unless you have a family member with hearing loss, or you have experienced it, having a child with hearing loss is incredibly overwhelming, because you don’t even really know what you should be asking,” she said.

Hill was recently offered a hand.




Teacher Jamie Smith works with Claudius Miller.




In November, The Bright School launched the Parent Resource Center. The on-campus resource hosts education and advocacy assistance programs, along with offering support to caregivers, educators and students free of charge.

“It helps us as parents know how to advocate for our children, and how to help them to succeed,” Hill said.

How it began

The Bright School for the Deaf was established in 1959. Now situated on the campus of The Kingsley House in the Lower Garden District, the school’s teachers are certified to support children affected by sensory impairments.

Linda Frantz, The Bright School’s director, has worked there for seven years.



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Students Beckley Stewart, left, and Sadie Stewart read a story with teacher Jamie Smith. 

Beckley Stewart




She begins meeting with students’ families through home visits when a child is as young as 4 months. Once the child is walking, or at least mobile, they attend the school.

“We definitely saw a need for a resource center,” Frantz said, noting that very few regional agencies offer guidance to parents of deaf children and that 98% of The Bright School’s caregivers have not experienced hearing loss firsthand.

Equipped with a library, along with a computer and a printer, The Parent Resource Center offers sign-language lessons and parent sessions where guardians can learn about working with a child with a hearing loss, and learn how to speak to an early interventionist. It is funded by the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat foundation.



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Student Rory Rouchon plays with a magnifying glass.




Frantz said her team is establishing a mentoring program for parents, so they can consult a deaf adult and ask questions along the lines of: “What has worked for you and what hasn’t?”

“The majority of parents have never met a deaf adult in their life,” she explained.

Evolving in the new year

Ashley Stewart is the mother of three children with hearing problems, all studying at The Bright School: Cardin, 5, who has Down syndrome; Beckley, almost 4; and Sadie, 2. Her kids attend from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and they eat lunch and nap while they are there.

Stewart has only just begun utilizing the Parent Resource Center, but she already sees the benefit.

“There’s no handbook for when your child is born with a disability of any sort. You don’t know where to start, where to go or what you should be doing to help your child, so this is a great way to have that compiled together in one place,” she said. “It gives you a starting point to look at programs in the area, that can in some way help your child.”



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Teachers work with students at The Bright School for the Deaf.

Last picture to the right: Student with back toward the camera: James Schwartz, Moving to the left: Paul Mansfield; teacher assistant Malayia Burns; students Luna Craig, Anna Sulony, Beckley Stewart and teacher Laurie Mayer




The best part is being able to network with parents in a similar situation, said Stewart.

“Being able to sit down with other parents and hear their experiences, and their tips on how to proceed, is beneficial,” she said. 

The Parent Resource Center is accessible to the whole community, not only parents with children enrolled in Bright School. COVID has put a damper on how much in-person programming the center is able to offer, said Frantz, but that will change over time.

Parents can still meet in the room while following current safety guidelines.



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Linda Frantz is the director of the Bright School for the Deaf.




“I’m hoping that for 2022, we have the availability to open it to more people in the community, so they can take advantage of it — whether that means they pop in for an hour, or attend something that the parenting center is offering,” Frantz said.

Hill believes the Parent Resource Center is ideal for parents who may not have access to a computer or a printer at home.

“It’s been really nice for the community having a place to go,” she said. “I think the hope is that it will be a safe place for parents to come, either together or alone, to spend time reading, and trying to understand exactly how they can best parent their child and advocate for them.”

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