Communicate with Joy

By Giving List Staff   |   October 1, 2021

Executive Director Cindy Dickeson and her team see it all the time. Parents walk through the doors of CEID, the Center for Early Intervention on Deafness, with a young child who is deaf or hard of hearing. Despite all their preparation, planning, and love, they have discovered that they can’t communicate with their child the way they expected — through voice and sound. They are frustrated, unsure, even defeated.

But that’s not how they look when they come out.

“You can see their shoulders start to soften after one visit,” says Dickeson, Executive Director of the Berkeley-based center, which provides family-centered, wraparound services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Shannon Mitchell is one such parent. A mother to five-year-old twin boys Arlo and Augie, along with their eight-year-old sister Avery, Mitchell was unsure of what to do when her sons were diagnosed with moderate to severe bilateral hearing loss. When she visited the center’s preschool to learn more, she was surprised by the sense of joy.

“There was so much singing and signing and dancing and videos, with parents and teachers and kids having the best time,” she said. She left in tears, but not before deciding: “From that day forward, I knew I would do anything to get my kids to go there.”

CEID’s holistic, family-centered approach is unique in the Bay Area, and a nationally-recognized model of success, serving 1,200 families per year. Their interdisciplinary practice for children aged zero to five offers many kinds of therapies, along with audiology services which include testing and hearing aids. This full-service approach means that practitioners often catch other disabilities early as well.

Without successful early intervention, academic outcomes plummet; only 60% of youth who are deaf/hard of hearing, for instance, graduate from high school.
CEID’s commitment to the community extends to adults as well, with audiology clinics providing the full range of testing and hearing aid services. Centering equity and inclusion is a core value of their work, and 90% of their audiology patients qualify as low income.

The center also offers training and support for the community and looks for ways to help schools, churches, synagogues, and other organizations improve the experience for deaf/hard of hearing youth.

“Ninety percent of deaf or hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents,” said Dickeson. “Most of these parents don’t know where to start. Many have never even met a deaf person. Parents face a huge learning curve and a range of overwhelming emotions. What we can do is support them at the highest level, and help them communicate with their child with a sense of joy.”


Center for Early Intervention on Deafness

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Cultivate Joy: Support Communication and Connection for ALL

A donation to CEID gives everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential through early education and support for families with young children who are deaf or hard of hearing and through audiology healthcare for people of all ages and all income levels.

$2,500 To Reduce Isolation: 

Hearing Aid for a child or adult in need

$1,000 To Build Peer Support: 

One month of family sign language classes and workshops

$500 To Increase Language: 

One month of speech and language therapy

Connect & Advocate. Learn more about hearing differences so you can be an ally in the community for access and equity. Contact for learning opportunities, other giving levels, or to visit our Center.


CEID’s mission is to maximize the communication potential of children and adults who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing through early education, family support, and community audiology services.

We strive to create a diverse, inclusive, and educationally rich environment in order to empower families with the academic and social tools needed to reach their full potential.
(510) 848-4800 x301
Executive Director: Cindy Dickeson, MSW

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We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s Director of Development and/or Executive Director.

I was introduced to CEID by Founder Jill Ellis and during my first visit I could see and feel the importance of the work being done. I wanted our Family Foundation to get involved even though the needs of people who are deaf and hard of hearing were not familiar to me. Early education was one of our focuses and when I realized that CEID offered families invaluable resources and support during a challenging time while also giving their children high quality early education, I knew we would be a great match. By supporting a small organization, I feel the impact of our investment even more. Please find time to visit and see the tremendous work and positive difference that will change your perspective too!
Linda Borick Davidson
Louis L Borick Foundation, Director

Key Supporters

Bernard E. & Alba Witkin Charitable Foundation
Callison Foundation
Frank A. Campini Foundation
George H. Sandy Foundation
Louis L. Borick Foundation
Quest Foundation
Zalec Familian and Lilian Levinson Foundation
Brian Atwater & Frances De Marco
Victoria & Todd Carlisle
Karen Dempsey & Brian Fraser
Jill & Jim Ellis
Mary & Stanley Friedman
Eric & Linda Horodas
Andrew Huang & Elaine Tseng
Sukey Lilienthal & David Roe
Leonard Machado
Dr. Anna Meyer
Helen & John Meyer
Kenneth & Frances Reid
Alicia Schmidt & Shannon Mitchell
Liliane & Edward Schneider
Rosalie & Peter Streett
Bruce & Irmgard Willock