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February 24, 2004

Louisville Deaf Oral School to celebrate legacy with quilt

From: Louisville Courier Journal - Louisville,KY,USA - Feb 24, 2004

Students, alumni, others can help

The Courier-Journal

The Louisville Deaf Oral School will hold a community quilt project celebrating the school's 55-year legacy of educating children with hearing impairments.

Students, alumni and their families will start work on the project Thursday, inviting people with past and present ties to the school to attend an art session on the campus of the Heuser Hearing Institute, the school's parent organization, at 111-117 E. Kentucky St.

Participants will create quilt squares representing themselves from fabric and other materials donated to the school. Those squares will then be connected to pieces designed in class by current students, ages 3 to 7.

Thursday's session will be one of three held before the finished product is unveiled on April 13. The remaining two meetings — which are open to volunteers of all skill levels — will be from 5 to 7 p.m. March 1 and from 1 to 3 p.m. March 13 at the school, at the same address.

After the panels are made and linked, skilled quilters will help by attaching the needed backing and batting and providing finishing touches, said artist Brenda Wirth, who is being paid by the Kentucky Arts Council to work on the project. Volunteers are still needed, she said.

To prepare the schoolchildren for the project, Wirth introduced them to hand and machine stitching and weaving.

The results, she said, have been both amusing and impressive.

"Some have been sewing on buttons, or using yarn or embroidery floss or attaching one piece of fabric to another. ... They've also done some things we don't really have a name for," Wirth said with a chuckle. "They've really shown a lot of interest in the medium. ... They've done some really nice-looking things."

The quilt, which will be placed on the walls of the school's combination dining hall and multipurpose room, is intended to serve as more than a decoration.

School officials say they expect the quilt to help muffle the noise in the room, which has tile floors and bare walls. And that would make hearing less difficult for the children during mealtimes and group gatherings.

"Almost all of the children have a hearing device of some sort, whether it be a hearing aid or cochlear implant. ... They are not totally without hearing. That means that the frequency and pitch of what they hear needs to be at an adequate level," said Carol Wahl, the school's development director

"Carpeting the tile floor would be expensive, and in a dining area, tough to take care of. ... Affixing the quilt should absorb some of that sound."

Started in 1948, the Louisville Deaf Oral School tests for early serious hearing impairment in preschool children and teaches them to deal with their impairments.

It is part of the Heuser Hearing Institute, which provides both adults and children with hearing testing, speech therapy and the fitting of hearing devices, among other services.

Copyright 2003 The Courier-Journal.