Friday, October 02, 2009

Hearing-impaired conference set - Justin Osmond

WILKES-BARRE – On Oct. 22, Genetti Hotel & Convention Center will again become the noisy hub championing the needs of those who live in silence, as the Luzerne Intermediate Unit holds its second large-scale conference for professionals and family who deal with the hearing impaired.

Dubbed “Hear Now and Forever 2009,” the conference will run from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and will feature keynote speaker Kris English, author and president of the American Academy of Audiology. Also appearing will be guest speaker Kathy Buckley, who has acted on TV and off-Broadway and is billed as “America’s first hearing impaired comedienne.”

“We’ll have over 200 people coming,” said Sue Zerfoss, LIU oral/auditory program director. “We held the last one in spring and missed the college students. This time we’re holding it in fall.”

Bloomsburg University has already signed up to bring about 50 students, and Misericordia University is also sending a group.

Zerfoss and the LIU began the conference idea with a mini-version of the upcoming one back in 2005 at Dallas Middle School with guest speaker Sue Thomas, a short, silver-haired woman who was profoundly deaf since she was 18 months old and had built a successful career as a motivational speaker.

In May 2008, the idea grew up as the conference moved to Genetti’s and included more exhibitors and some workshops. Justin Osmond, the severely hearing-impaired son of singer Merrill Osmond from the Osmond Brothers, was guest speaker and set out to prove not being able to hear doesn’t mean you can’t perform music, as he played a song on his violin.

Zerfoss said the change from spring to autumn has made a big difference in the diversity of those registering this year, with more college students and professors signing up.

Continuing Professional Development Credits for state-certified teachers – more commonly known as “Act 48 credits” – are also available upon request.

The full conference on Oct. 22 will include more than 20 exhibitors who sell products or provide services or training in the field. Cost for the whole day is $75, but those interested in only hearing Buckley can get in from noon to 3 p.m. for $30.

Registration deadline is Oct. 12. Forms are available online at, or by calling (570) 718-4692

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