The Luke Lee Listening, Language and Learning Lab at Marshall University—also known as “The L”—was founded in 2006 as the first preschool program in West Virginia to provide listening and spoken language outcomes to hearing impaired children from infants through school age whose families choose for their children to communicate through listening and spoken language.

The goal of the L is to teach deaf children to listen and speak through the use of hearing technology, including hearing aids and cochlear implants. Unlike traditional “total communication” deaf programs, auditory-oral teachers rely solely on speaking and listening, avoiding sign language and other visual interactions.

The program focus is to begin audio logic treatment and therapy early, with infants or at diagnosis, to promote normal speech and language development. The program also teaches parents and/or caregivers the knowledge and skills to develop their child’s listening and spoken language with proper hearing technology.

Students from the L are able to mainstream into a traditional school environment with age-level listening and spoken language skills to communicate with their hearing aged peers.



Charleston, West Virginia native Cherese Lee faced a road block when she and her husband prepared to move back to their home state after living in Pennsylvania for a few years.

14233084_10209680175977322_6697061615007038974_nSince moving to Pittsburgh, their son Luke was born and diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 6 months old. Cherese and her husband Brandon chose for Luke to learn to listen and speak so that he would have the same opportunities as his twin brother.

Luke received a cochlear implant as a toddler. Cochlear implants are a surgically-placed device that sends electrical stimulation directly to the auditory nerve of a person’s brain. The brain turns the electronic signals into sounds that can eventually be understood or “heard” by the user. First, however, the person must be taught how to process the information, which is why auditory-oral programs are so vital. They enrolled Luke in a less-than-traditional deaf learning school in Pittsburgh, and he was excelling, but no such program existed in West Virginia.

Rather than letting the lack of programming define her family’s future, Cherese did a lot of research, contacted leaders in the field and became the driving force behind creation of the state’s first auditory-oral learning preschool. After more than a year of hard work, the Luke Lee Listening, Language and Learning Lab, nicknamed “The L,” was established in 2006.

Nearly 100 families have been served by programs at the L in its first 10 years, all thanks to one mom’s determination to let her son be heard.