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Cincinnati girl learns to speak despite hearing disability

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Posted at 10:19 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-16 07:20:45-04

CINCINNATI — Jasmine Willeford has severe hearing problems that have prevented her from learning to speak, but thanks to audiologists and speech pathologists, she's learning to listen and speak.

Jasmine and her teachers at Ohio Valley Voices run through conversations, hitting on words and sounds Jasmine hears then speaks, which isn't a skill that's come naturally to her.

"We didn't know she had severe hearing loss until she was two-and-a-half ... voices were audible .... but they weren't defined," said Angie, Jasmine's mother.

Being unable to hear words created a challenge for Jasmine as she tried to learn to speak. The path hasn't been easy and the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted progress, but Jasmine has been able to get direct attention from experts in the Tri-State area to help.

At Ohio Valley Voices, the doors are soundproofed and baffling on the walls of classrooms absorbs extra sound so outside noise doesn't compete with speech lessons.

Nine months of treatment have changed Jasmine's world for the better.

"She's this brilliant little girl," said Sean, Jasmine's father. "This opportunity here allows her to express herself finally in a way she wants and needs to."