Founded in 2002, by two families of children with hearing loss, the mission of the Decibels Foundation is to help children with hearing loss and their families. The programs we fund support children from birth through the time that they enter a mainstream educational environment and beyond. More importantly, we help the children by first helping their parents learn how to raise a child with a hearing loss, then helping school systems understand what it takes to educate a child with a hearing loss.
The cornerstone of the Decibel Foundation’s work is the Minute Man Arc Early Intervention Program for Children with Hearing Loss. Created by families in September 2002, the Minute Man Early Intervention Program has provided highly specialized professional services to children with hearing loss and related developmental disabilities with support from the Decibels Foundation. Minute Man is the only EI Program in Massachusetts providing this level of services to children with hearing loss.
In addition, it is the only program outside of Boston that is offering parents a total communication environment that uses spoken English in combination with signed exact English. Many children with hearing loss are diagnosed within the first days or weeks of their lives. Because it is difficult to accurately predict at this young age if a child will be a candidate for a cochlear implant, if the child will be able to make use of residual hearing or if the child can access speech – it is impossible to expect parents to choose a primary language for their children. Couple this with the fact that the majority of deaf or hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents and the complexities increase. The approach of the playgroup is to provide an environment where English is the primary language, but a manual language – signed exact English – is also taught at an early age to ensure that whichever path the child takes, language is being developed during the critical years.
In early 2010, the Decibels Foundation and the Caroline Bass Fund, an Otolaryngology Fund for Children's Hospital Boston, combined their more than seven year history of fulfilling one mission: to support programs for families of children with hearing loss and the professionals working with them. Combined, the Decibels Foundation and the Caroline Bass Fund at Children's Hospital have invested over $2,000,000 to help children with hearing loss.