Get the latest news on hearing loss,

tips for parenting children with hearing loss,

a letter from the Executive Director, and more!
Welcome to BEGINNINGS’ inaugural e-newsletter!  
Each quarter, we will bring you the latest news on hearing loss research,
organizational updates, client feature stories, and much more.  


Prenatal Smoking
Leads to Hearing Loss

Research suggests that prenatal smoking can lead to hearing loss in adolescents. Data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found in most cases, kids who were exposed to smoking in utero were three times as likely to develop a hearing loss later in life.  According to The Journal of the American Medical Association Otolaryngology, “these novel findings suggest that in utero exposure to tobacco smoke may be injurious to the auditory system.”  More information can be found here.

Hearing Loss from Explosions may be Treatable

According to a new study by Stanford University School of Medicine, hearing loss caused by loud explosions may now be treatable.  Loud blasts, such as those caused by roadside bombs, cause hair-cell and nerve-cell damage inside of the ear. Previously, these loud blasts were believed to cause structural and permanent damage to the cochlea of the ear. New treatment may involve medication, taken immediately after loud blasts, to limit the damage done to the ear. This news could benefit many of our veterans.  Hearing loss is one of the most common military service injuries, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.  More information can be found here.

Treatment for Hereditary Hearing Loss

Researchers at Kansas State University may have discovered a way to treat deafness that results from a certain genetic mutation involving the SLC26A4 gene.   When properly expressed, the SLC26A4 gene provides instructions for making a protein called pendrin, which helps to maintain certain level of ions in the inner ear.  An imbalance of these charged particles during embryonic development can cause deafness and loss of balance. Mutation of the SLC26A4 gene is one of the most common forms of hereditary hearing loss in children all over the world.  Through an innovative experiment using mice, scientists have discovered a way to express the SLC26A4 gene in the endolymphatic sac (a non-sensory organ of the inner ear).  The mice that received the treatment were able to develop normal hearing and balance.  The goal of future research is to develop a pharmacological treatment similar to this for human patients.  More information is available here.



As a rising senior, 17-year-old Sara Soltani already knows what career she "digs."  Sara is profoundly deaf and uses a hearing aid and a cochlear implant to hear.  This summer, she traveled to Israel to participate in an archaeological dig with George Washington University.  

How did you become a part of the dig?

I went to George Washington University a few weeks before the trip for an interview with the professor.  I just wanted to see what the school was like and he invited me to Israel.

What happened at the dig?

They taught you how to conduct an archaeological dig and how to preserve remains and vessels.  We actually stumbled across a storage room of vessels and it was very cool. There were about 30 or 40 vessels.  It was very rewarding.  There was a person in the ground that we found, degraded because it was exposed to the elements.  We called him Kenny the Canaanite.  You could tell a lot about him.  He was in his mid-50s when he died and he was about 2,000 years old.

What got you interested in archaeology?

I’ve been interested in this since I was 5.  I’d go out in the backyard and find these bones everywhere and these animals and I’ve always wanted to know more about the anatomy of an animal and a person.  It tells something about the person even after they’re gone. You can tell how they lived their life.  It’s like they aren’t forgotten.  You’re bringing them back to life.  That’s really what I want to do. You can tell all of these things about their life based on their bones, and you know, you can tell if they had any diseases or if they had any pain.  You can tell if they had malnutrition.  And that’s why I want to do archaeology—to bring that person back, and make their life live again and to know them, even if the people that knew them are long gone.


In an effort to increase awareness and facilitate better understanding about deaf and hard of hearing culture and community, BEGINNINGS is launching a new social media initiative to feature present and past clients and families.  We would love to hear from you.

Have any funny stories about your family and/or your child with hearing loss?  Does your child have a special talent that he or she would like to share?  Has your family overcome particular challenges with regard to hearing loss?  Would you like to share your experience with the world?  Your stories may inspire and encourage others that encounter the same issues.  Please send ideas, suggestions, or stories to:  We appreciate your participation!


Become a sustaining donor today!  Donate now and help us to provide valuable support, services, and guidance for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in North Carolina.


Tell us what
you think

Love what you see?  Want to make suggestions?Take our newsletter survey here.  We appreciate your feedback.


This month BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing held its first photo contest.  The competition, which was launched and administered through our Facebook page, invited families to submit photos that spoke to the theme "Loving Life as a kid with hearing loss!" Our board members had a tough job picking a winner out of the all of the beautiful photos.  Congratulations to Nikki & Madisyn McNair for winning best photo!  Beautiful 11-month-old Madisyn, pictured here with her sister, Karisa Paige, failed her newborn screening and after a long journey was identified as having a bilateral mild to moderate sensorineural hearing loss. She was bilaterally aided at 6-months-old and fitted with the prettiest purple hearing aids! Keeping those adorable purple hearing aids in has been a struggle and Madisyn's mom, Nikki, learned headbands did the trick.  Nikki makes all of her headbands, including the gorgeous purple one she is pictured wearing, and Madisyn has every color under the sun. Thank you so much to Nikki and all the other families who submitted photos for the contest.  Stay tuned ... we have more contests coming!  

Quarterly Poll:

Tell us what you think!  Our next poll question:  

What is your favorite weekend activity with your family?

  1. Movie night
  2. Going to a park/going outdoors
  3. Making crafts
  4. Game night
  5. Reading books together

Take the poll here or send your response to:

BEGINNINGS Receives Grants Totaling $22,500


BEGINNINGS For Parents of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing is pleased to announce it has received two new grants.  

A $2,500 grant from the Irene Rand Poole Endowment Fund of Triangle Community Foundation will allow BEGINNINGS to continue to spread awareness about hearing loss and to assure the positive academic and emotional development of children with hearing loss through support to parents.

"The funds awarded to BEGINNINGS from the Irene Rand Poole Endowment Fund of Triangle Community Foundation are vital in ensuring parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing have access to critical information, support and assistance at no cost to them as they face the daunting decisions they must make for their children soon after the hearing loss is identified and throughout the child’s education,” said Joni Alberg, Executive Director of BEGINNINGS.

In May, BEGINNINGS received a $20,000 grant from The Ragland Family Foundation. These funds will be used for grants that will be available to parents served by BEGINNINGS for such things as ear molds, gas to travel to audiology appointments, therapy, parent education, technology and other expenses for which insurance does not cover. Applications for parents who are not eligible for other financial assistance programs will open up in early 2014.

For additional information, contact Georganne Sanders at 919-715-4092 or and for more information about the Triangle Community Foundation click here.


A letter from the Executive Director

Dr. Joni Alberg is the Executive Director of BEGINNINGS. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Special Education from Florida State University and a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Dear friends and families of BEGINNINGS,  

Fourteen years ago, I started an amazing journey with BEGINNINGS. Little did I know at the time I would develop an incredible passion for this organization and most of all, for the thousands of families we are able to help each day. How lucky I am to be able to love what I do and all with whom I work.

At BEGINNINGS, we truly stand behind our motto of “Educating and supporting to empower parents.”  Your power as an advocate for your child is one of the most important determinants for your child’s future.  You all have the beautiful ability to show your children how to tune out the “cannots” and to focus instead on the opportunities and possibilities in life.  You are the inspiring support for your child. We are here to support you.  As you navigate the many challenging decisions and transitions regarding your child’s development and education, BEGINNINGS is here to help.  

BEGINNINGS has experienced great expansion in the last year, with a steady 6% increase in families assisted.  As our organization grows, we are working to increase awareness about hearing loss and the many services that BEGINNINGS offers. As you may have seen online, we are launching a new social media effort, including initiatives such as our very first photo contest.  We’re proud of our service over the past 26 years and we are thrilled with the new developments ahead.  

Dr. Joni Alberg


What's the difference between sensorineural hearing loss and conductive hearing loss?

Sensorineural hearing loss involves damage to the nerve cells of the inner ear, the auditory nerve, or the hearing centers of the brain.  Sensorineural hearing loss can be a result of these parts of the ear not developing correctly or malfunctioning or as a result of damage due to prolonged exposure to loud noise.   This type of hearing loss is considered to be permanent because nerve cells are unable to regenerate or be replaced.  Amplification may be recommended for this type of hearing loss.  

Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot travel through the outer ear canal to the eardrum and the tiny bones of the middle ear. This may be due to a disruption or mechanical blockage of the movement of sound waves in the hearing system. Conductive hearing loss can occur along with sensorineural hearing loss or alone. This type of hearing loss may be corrected using surgery or individuals may benefit from the use of amplification.

My baby is so young. Why is it important for her to wear hearing aids now?

Research suggests that language development occurs as early as the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.  Babies begin to absorb language in the womb and every moment of “listening” is beneficial for their brain development.   With hearing aids, your baby will learn to associate certain sounds with events and the differences in voice tone that can signal mood and interaction.  All of the sounds that your baby can hear generate a rich network of nerve pathways between the inner ear and the auditory center of the brain.  By the time your baby is one year old, they have listened to over one million words.  Hearing aids increase the amount of sound received by the inner ear and therefore stimulates the growth of the nerve pathways. It will be easier for your child to develop speech and communication skills if he or she has early sound stimulation.

Have a question for the next newsletter?  Email:


Join the Walk4Hearing Team!

Twice a year, the Hearing Loss Association of America hosts a fundraising walk in multiple cities across the country.  BEGINNINGS is on a mission to be the top team again at the state Walk4Hearing on October 12 at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C. Forty percent of donations raised by our team will come back to BEGINNINGS and will help serve children with hearing loss and their families right here in North Carolina! Invite your friends and family to walk with us, and then donate or join our team here.
BEGINNINGS is a 501(c)(3) which supports parents of children who have hearing loss (ages birth to 22) by providing impartial information about communication options, emotional support and technical assistance as they make decisions for their child and family. BEGINNINGS provides support to the professionals who serve these families, deaf parents of hearing children and works to educate all parents and children about the importance of hearing loss prevention.
Copyright © *2013* *BEGINNINGS for Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, INC.*, All rights reserved.


Raleigh Office
302 Jefferson Street, Suite 110
Raleigh, NC 27605
(800) 541-4327 (V/TTY) 
(919) 715-4092 (V/TTY)
(919) 715-4093 (Fax)
Charlotte Office
7508 E. Independence Blvd.,
Suite 106
Charlotte, NC 28227
(800) 556-2796 (V/TTY)
(704) 566-0145 (V/TTY)
(704) 566-0653 (FAX)