Our HistoryAbout WISE
Educating, Supporting & Empowering
The Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE) is dedicated to educating, supporting and empowering parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Our comprehensive therapy and educational programs are designed to provide opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing children to learn to listen, speak, read, and integrate fully into the hearing society.
Parent and Child Partnerships
WISE team members forge strong partnerships with the parents of students, as well as their local educators to ensure that our students are able to reach their maximum spoken language and listening potential.
Pushing for Change
WISE team members actively help our policy makers at the state and Federal government understand the unique needs and unlimited potential deaf and hard of hearing children accessing modern technology and spoken language can obtain.
One of a kind
WISE is the only organization of its kind in the state of Alabama that can provide for the least restrictive, most progressive option for infants and children who are deaf/hard of hearing.
A Timeline of WISE
1991 - 2019
- Founded by Dr. Robert L. Baldwin and initially known as the Birmingham Ear Institute.
- Birmingham Ear Institute received a generous philanthropic gift from the Joe Bruno family to fund operations, hire full time staff, and open an office.
- Birmingham Ear Institute identified the need for newborn hearing screenings in Alabama hospitals.
- Birmingham Ear Institute partnered with the Alabama State Department of Public Health / Bureau of Family Health Services (BFHS) to plan and implement statewide Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program in Alabama hospitals. Collaborating agencies included:
- Children’s Rehabilitation Services
- The Early Detection and Intervention Program (EDHI)
- Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind (AIDB)
- Alabama Early Intervention System
- Birmingham Ear Institute officially was renamed the Alabama Ear Institute (AEI).
- Federal Grant proposal submitted to Health and Human Resources in Washington, D.C. for $726,000 was approved to fund four years of the Alabama Universal Newborn Hearing Screening program.
- AEI Parent-2-Parent (P2P) peer support program began providing networking opportunities and educational seminars for parents of children with hearing loss.
- Alabama Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) program officially began.
- P2P program was implemented to network families raising deaf children in Alabama, offering workshops and meetings, and a parent board for the program developed.
- P2P program incorporated “Families Impacted by Hearing Impairment” Program in Huntsville, AL, a leading advocate of family services for deaf children who want to listen, learn, and speak.
- Alabama recognized in USA Today as one of top 10 UNHS programs in the country.
- AEI co-sponsored a medical conference (“An Overview of Cochlear Implantation”) with the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and the Alabama Department of Education.
- AEI Auditory-Verbal Therapy Task Force formed and conducted needs assessment for the availability of certified therapists for children born with hearing loss in Alabama.
- CHIC (”Culture for Hearing Impaired Children”) KIDS program began. They were culturally rich programs quarterly for children born deaf and hard of hearing, e.g. Birmingham Museum of Art.
- AEI Auditory-Verbal Therapy Mentoring Program began conducting continuing education programs in the A-V approach for educational and clinical professionals.
- AEI Weather Radio Program began distributing radios to individuals with hearing loss to assist in notifying of weather related emergencies.
- AEI co-sponsored the following medical conferences on Cochlear Implants with Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and the Alabama Department of Education:
- “An Overview of Cochlear Implantation”
- “Cochlear Implantation: The Next Step”
- “Cochlear Implantation: Alternative Communication Options”
- AEI received a federal grant from the Centers for Disease Control to implement Auditory-Verbal Mentoring Program and began providing mentoring services to professionals to increase the availability of therapy to families across Alabama. It was the first program of its kind in United States or Canada to provide direct scholarship funded one-on-one mentoring in the A-V approach for professionals seeking to become Listening and Spoken Language Specialist Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapists (LSLS Cert AVTs).
- “Poison Noises” interactive puppet show for elementary schools implemented to educate children on the dangers of noise pollution and its impact on hearing loss.
- “Every Kid Counts” program began conducting culturally competent activities for children with hearing loss to interact with their hearing peers.
- The first annual AEI Summer Institute in Auditory-Verbal Therapy was conducted to increase availability of training in the Auditory-Verbal approach.
- “Poison Noises” educational program was adopted as a permanent exhibit by the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama.
- AEI Auditory-Verbal Mentoring Program received local and national recognition for exemplary service:
- Alabama State Department of Education: “the difference an Auditory-Verbal approach makes cannot be over emphasized . . . your program is making a significant difference in Special Education service delivery throughout the state”
- The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Hard of Hearing: “AEI has become a model for other programs throughout the United States and internationally . . . AEI sets a new standard. . .”
- AEI conducted medical conference for physicians on cochlear implant research co-sponsored by Advanced Bionics Corporation.
- AEI Auditory-Verbal Mentoring Program surpassed 1,000 professionals/attendees participating/receiving training in the Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach.
- AEI co-sponsored Spoken Language Development workshop with Cochlear Americas Corporation.
- AEI partnered with Children’s Hospital to form The Alabama School for Hearing –an Auditory/Oral preschool for children with hearing loss.
- AEI advocacy efforts resulted in Alabama State Department of Education redefining requirements for Teachers of the Deaf in Alabama schools.
- AEI partnered with AL State Department of Education to pioneer school classroom sound field amplification project.
- AEI initiated collaboration with local Office of Senior Citizens’ Services and Birmingham Speech & Hearing Clinic to begin HEAR 4U Senior Citizen Hearing Aid Program. As a result of this program, hearing aids were provided at no cost to senior citizens who met financial requirements of program
- The Alabama School for Hearing opened, providing Auditory-Oral preschool classes with individual Auditory-Verbal Therapy sessions to preschool aged children with hearing loss utilizing a spoken language approach preparing them to enter mainstreamed classrooms. It was the first Auditory/Oral preschool in Alabama.
- AEI partnered with Congressman Arthur Davis and Congressman Mike Rogers to donate classroom sound field technology to local schools.
- AEI staff attended annual Option School Conference – learned that The Alabama School for Hearing is only school of its kind in U.S. and Canada that does not charge tuition for students to attend.
- AEI received Outstanding Service Award from the Speech and Hearing Association of Alabama for its contributions to continuing education training for professionals who provide services to children with hearing loss and their families.
- AEI partnered with The University of Southern Mississippi to conduct week long training in spoken language development to graduate students in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences.
- AEI Auditory-Verbal Mentoring Program surpassed 1,300 professionals/attendees participating/receiving training in the Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach.
- AEI partnered with the Alabama State Department of Education and the Cullman City School System to implement AEI Teletherapy/Telementoring program – first pilot program of its kind in Alabama to provide therapy and professional training in Spoken Language Development via telecommunication technology for local school students and professionals.
- AEI conducted its 10th Summer Institute in Spoken Language Development for professionals who serve children with hearing loss and their families.
- Professionals from 30 different states, Argentina and Canada have received training in spoken language development through the AEI Auditory Verbal Therapy Mentoring Program.
- AEI Auditory-Verbal Mentoring Program surpassed 1,500 professionals/attendees participating/receiving training in the Development of Spoken Language /Auditory-Verbal Therapy approach.
- The Speech & Hearing Center in Chattanooga, TN, visited the Alabama School for Hearing as a model and starts their “Little Listeners” preschool for children with hearing loss modeled after The Alabama School for Hearing – the first preschool of its kind in Chattanooga, TN, for children with hearing loss.
- WISE partnered with the Alabama Department of Education to provide Auditory Verbal therapy sessions for children enrolled at the Alabama School for Hearing.
- Recognizing that the primary program of The Alabama Ear Institute (AEI) has become The Alabama School for Hearing, (ASH). The board of directors for each unanimously agreed that AEI and the Alabama School for Hearing should officially merge the two entities and continue its operations as the Alabama School for Hearing (ASH). This was done with the consideration that all current AEI programs can continue well within the mission of ASH. Prior to this change, the Alabama School for Hearing had been a separate but integral part of the Alabama Ear Institute.
- Dr. Robert Baldwin retired and Dr. Audie Woolley was named as President and Chairman. The Board of Directors voted to eliminate the position of executive vice president. The Board agreed to complete fundraising and grant writing responsibilities themselves.
- The Board voted to rename the organization the Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language & Education (WISE).
- Nancy Gregg was hired as the Director of WISE.
- WISE opens a Toddler Preschool Program for two year old children.
- WISE initiated a Parent Support group.
- WISE developed a Mainstream Support Program
- WISE partnered with Cochlear Americas to present a workshop for professionals
- Parents and Members of the Board presented at the Alabama Early Intervention Workshop
- WISE partnered with the University of Alabama to provide training and internship placements for graduate students in speech/language pathology
- WISE partnered with public school systems to provide Listening and Spoken Language sessions for families and children enrolled in the preschool program.
- Through collaboration with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation, WISE began providing early intervention services to Alabama’s deaf and hard of hearing infants and children.
- Through collaboration with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation, WISE began providing early intervention speech pathology services to infants and toddlers with communication delays not related to hearing loss.
- WISE began the Family Network for Empowerment, Support, & Training (NEST)
Herman and Emmie Bolden Foundation
Hill Crest Foundation
Robert R. Meyer Foundation
Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust
Our Board of Directors
Dr. Audie Woolley
President and Chairman
Chief Pediatric Otolaryngologist
Pediatric ENT Associates
Medical Director, Cochlear Implant Program
Children’s of Alabama
Executive Director of Procurement
Speech Language Pathologist
Listening Spoken Language Specialist
Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist
SVP, CFO, Consumer Banking, Regional Banking Group
Senior Vice President Commercial Banking
Alabama AG Bell Association
Beverly Hunter, Ed.S.
Alabama State Department of Education
Joe L. Leak
Vice Chairman Leak
Douglas & Morano, P.C.
Homewood City Council
Tammi Dahle, Ph.D.
VP Enrollment & Student Affairs
Dean of Students
University of Montevallo
Charlie Regan, Jr.
Gorrie Regan & Associates
Mary Lauren McBride
ACI Alliance AL State Champion
Our program is staffed by Certified Speech Language Pathologists who are also Certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialists. They have over 40 years combined experience working with children with hearing loss and their families. Certified Speech Language Pathologists provide classroom support in the WISE Toddler group and Preschool classrooms. They also provide individual speech therapy sessions for children with typical hearing. Trained paraprofessionals provide classroom support and assist in preparing therapy materials. Two Certified Speech Language Pathologists volunteer in our program on a weekly basis.
Our WISE Team
Nancy E. Gregg, M.S., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT®
Director of WISE
Listening and Spoken-Language Specialist/Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist®
Rachel Jones, M.S., CCC-SLP
Jamie Cleveland, BS – Communication Disorders
Social Media Director
Susan Farrell, M.S., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert. AVT®
Listening and Spoken-Language Specialist/Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist®
Annie Laurie Sinclair, M.S., CCC-SLP
Our WISE Volunteers
Judy Mann, M.S., CCC-SLP
Parent of a child with hearing loss
Tuition Free Programs
New Friends for life
Life Changing Results
Loving and Caring Staff
The Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE), is a 501 © not for profit organization dedicated to teaching deaf children to speak. We are a statewide, family focused program working in collaboration with Alabama's Early Intervention System, local school systems, and private and public entities which advance the education of deaf children who use listening and spoken language.