Partnering with families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing to develop strong foundations for communication and reading through listening and spoken language

Every child deserves to have a voice, to feel the joy of learning, and to experience the pride of mastery. The Katherine Hamm Center understands this and helps each child discover theirs by promoting the deep relationship between spoken language, reading and all other learning.


“In coming to the [Katherine Hamm Center], through the early intervention program, initially we thought okay, so we want to mainstream, how fast do we do this? But, the longer we stayed, we actually ended up asking how long can we stay? She started learning the beginning foundations of reading when she was just 3 years old, and now she’s 5 and she can pretty much read anything. She’s essentially reading on a first grade level.”
– Naticia Zocca, Parent

Building from birth

Providing essential early intervention through Auditory-Verbal sessions

Children learn language most rapidly in the earliest years of life – while the brain is developing at its fastest rate.  The Hamm Center understands the fusion between language heard and language spoken, and its role in literacy and learning.  For children who are deaf or hard of hearing, early intervention makes all the difference – which is why the Hamm Center’s programs begin in infancy.  Auditory-Verbal Sessions create a partnership between the therapist and family to build skills necessary to develop a child’s speech and language.


Bridging the Gap in Education of the deaf/hard of hearing through the hamm center preschool

Setting expectations high, and helping children meet them

When we reach children early- especially within the first year of life – we help them develop proficiency in early listening and language that leads to communication, literacy, and confidence. At the Hamm Center, we target language development and foundations for reading – offering our children a path to learning independence and success.

Children who are deaf or hard of hearing are often left behind. Currently, in Georgia, only 3% of deaf or hard of hearing children read at grade level. Through the efforts of the Hamm Center, we are changing those odds for each child we serve and every child in our state.

The Atlanta Speech School builds the foundations for reading and life-long learning. In each school and program, classrooms apply a model for reading brain construction developed by the Speech School in alignment with the latest neuro- and social-science.



Connections over compliance

Reading is not a natural or automatic function of the brain. According to evidence-based research, circuits specific to reading must be built before a child can learn to read. The Atlanta Speech School holds construction of the reading brain as the connecting thread that runs through all our schools and programs.

The primary development of a reading brain occurs between birth and three years old. Recognizing the critical nature of brain development, teachers in the Katherine Hamm Center apply research-based strategies to promote early literacy with even the youngest students – and guide them as they develop the language necessary for critical thinking.

Children are never silenced at the Atlanta Speech School. Instead, an environment of mutual respect instills in them an expectation of real connection and fulfillment.


Tailored Curriculum

In the twos, threes and fours Hamm classrooms, children who are deaf or hard of hearing work alongside peers with typical hearing. The environment is rich in listening and spoken language. Students develop through relationship and conversational partnership with other children and staff during all aspects of their school day.

In addition to academics, our preschoolers participate in enriching activities that include music, PE, occupational therapy/physical education, art, and media. Classroom teachers collaborate with enrichment teachers to integrate and bolster language development.

Audiological Support for Young Learners

Providing the best environment for success

The Atlanta Speech School’s audiology staff allows the Hamm Center to provide students the services they need to achieve their potential. The Hamm Center’s educational audiologist supports hearing technology and conducts assessments to ensure each child has full access to all speech sounds. Throughout the Hamm Center, state-of-the-art assistive listening devices (remote microphone technology and sound field systems) are used to assure optimal listening experiences.


So that every child can have a voice

Katherine Hamm founded The Atlanta Speech School more than 80 years ago, when she moved to Atlanta from St. Louis. Her son, Ben, was deaf, and had learned to speak at a school in St. Louis. Armed with knowledge of how language benefited her son, Katherine Hamm started her free school with the belief that every child should have that same opportunity: the unlocking of language.

Today, the Katherine Hamm Center continues that mission, giving each child a voice. Many of our students and their families rely on the generosity and support of their community to access this learning, and we welcome you to join us in our mission to instill a lifetime of language in these students.