‘SHE’S JUST REMARKABLE’

When Daley Jackson was 18 months old, her parents learned their child was almost completely deaf and would never be able to talk.

But last week, the Blaney Elementary second-grader pranced onto the school stage in her starring role in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” – speaking lines and singing songs with a wide grin that never left her freckled face.

“She’s just remarkable,” said Julianna Lorick, Daley’s speech language pathologist.

Daley’s parents, Rusty and Velma Jackson, cheered her from the audience.

From the start, the Jacksons were determined to give Daley every opportunity possible. They decided early on that she would use hearing aids and speech, rather than sign language and silence.

“Most people would have chosen sign language,” Lorick said. “That would have isolated her (from most of the student population).”

Instead, Daley is in a typical classroom setting, thanks to a special device that allows her to clearly hear her teacher, Jean Broom.

Broom uses an FM system that puts her voice into Daley’s digital hearing aids, filtering out background noise.

At the beginning of the year, Broom explained the device to her students so they would know why she was wearing a microphone.

Broom recalled how one of the students put Daley’s special need into perspective: “‘It’s like I have to wear glasses because I can’t see as well.'”

Daley’s teachers say she is fully integrated into the school system – and that’s just how mother Velma Jackson, also a Blaney teacher, intended it.

“We chose for her to speak because that’s what we do,” Jackson said. “I wanted her to have every opportunity that other children would have.”

To do that, the Jacksons started auditory-verbal therapy at the University of South Carolina when Daley was 2 years old. She spent four years learning to speak and listen, through such exercises as having a speaker cover his mouth while Daly would listen without seeing his lips move.

“It forced her to use the hearing that she did have,” Jackson said. “We wanted her to be as much like everybody else as she could.”

And she is. Those who know her say she is a typical second-grader, enjoying clogging, playing the piano and singing.

She’s also a popular and above-average academic student, her teachers say.

“She’s a social butterfly,” Lorick said.

Daley, who is profoundly deaf in her left ear and severe to profoundly deaf in her right ear, is a borderline candidate for the cochlear implant, a device that is implanted into the inner ear to restore hearing.

But her parents decided against the implant for now, because if it didn’t work, Daley would lose what hearing she does have. They say they will let Daley make her own decision about the implant when she is older.

For now, she will continue to use her aids. She doesn’t pronounce every word clearly, and she has some trouble with soft sounds and “s” sounds, her mother said.

But Daley said she felt good about her performance as Goldilocks.

“I thought I was going to be nervous,” she said. “But I wasn’t.”

Reach Rupon at (803) 771-8622 or krupon@thestate.com.Caption:

PHOTO: BW1. Blaney Elementary second-grade teacher Jean Broom helps Daley Jackson put on her wig before her performance as Goldilocks in the school play. Because of Daley’s hearing impairment. Brook speaks through a device which transmits a signal to Daley’s hearing aid allowing her to speak more cearly. PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTOPHER ALUKA BERRY/SPECIAL TO THE STATE

2. Daley keeps her dancing shoes close by during math class.

3. Despite a hearing impairment, Daley starred in “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

March 18, 2004  State (published as The State)  Columbia, South Carolina
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