Located in Urbana, IL the school was initially founded to help children with severe to profound hearing loss learn about their world through listening and spoken language. We quickly discovered the hands-on, language-rich learning environment affords a tremendous learning opportunity for children with all degrees of hearing loss as well as children who have typical hearing. Built on a solid foundation of language development, students also explore phonological awareness, early reading and math, science and social studies concepts, early music, art and both gross and fine motor development.
In 1989, Carle otologist, Dr. Michael Novak formed the Expanding Children’s Hearing Opportunities (ECHO) Program, bringing together one of the nation’s finest teams for identifying and treating children who are deaf and hard of hearing. This milestone represented an important step in Dr. Novak’s vision of providing comprehensive support and educational services for children with hearing loss and their families.
In 1997, recognizing a consistent need for a listening and spoken-language education site in the area, Carle teamed with St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis to create St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf at Carle (SJIC) in central Illinois. Starting out serving just a few families in a classroom within The Caring Place Child Care Center, the school grew and expanded services to serve more families, moving into progressively larger spaces.
In June 2008, Carle Foundation Hospital and The Carle Development Foundation broke ground for a new facility that currently houses the ECHO program, both the Pediatric Hearing Center (link) and the Carle Auditory Oral School (CAOS). The school name was changed to reflect the support and investment of Carle and the local philanthropic community. The ECHO building opened its doors in August of 2009.