4th Grade: Ava’s Voice

The purpose of Ava’s Voice is to provide assistance and support to families affected by hearing and/or vision loss, to advance the understanding of hearing and vision loss through funding research, and to provide resources and education to the public about hearing and vision loss. The organization was inspired by Ava, who was born deaf, and at age 3 was diagnosed Usher’s Syndrome, a genetic condition in which patients are born deaf and lose their vision over time. Ava’s mom Carly is a family specialist for the Center for Sensory and Complex Disabilities at the College of New Jersey, and helps to develop creative and innovative outreach projects. Students working with Ava’s Voice can create art projects using tactile mediums, so the blind can feel them. Kids will use touch/sensory boxes to learn how to identify objects by touch without using their vision, and can participate in guided projects to demonstrate how to get around using a cane like the visually impaired. Students will learn about the anatomy of the eye and ear, and learn why some people are blind and/or deaf. They will learn about how Ava benefits from the use of her cochlear implants, and also learn some of the Braille and American Sign Language that Ava uses. Children can also have the chance to hear Ava speak to their class, to learn about what her life is like, what things are the same, and what things are different.