The hearing support program has a child centered philosophy for educating deaf and hard of hearing students. A variety of educational approaches and strategies are utilized and individualized according to each student’s needs. This philosophy promotes effective and independent communication.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '04) defines two terms related to hearing acuity: Deafness and Hearing Impairment. According to IDEA 2004,
Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that it adversely affects a child's educational performance. Hearing impairment means impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.
Curriculum and Instruction
Colonial IU 20 provides services to eligible deaf and/or hard of hearing children spread within three classrooms within the intermediate unit. One classroom is at the elementary level, one at the middle school level and one at the high school/vocational-technical school level. Each classroom is staffed with a classroom teacher as well as an associate teacher and/or an associate specialist. All individuals in the classroom setting have received training in sign language communication and interpretation. All the classrooms are equipped with telecommunication devices which allow the children and staff to better communicate with others in the community.
Many of the students have FM Systems which increase the signal to noise ratio, thus enhancing the listening environment. All the classrooms are committed to the total communication approach to instruction. This means all instruction is communicated through both sign and verbal direction. This provides the student with two modes of receiving information. Students are instructed through the use of a modified regular education curriculum.
When students achieve a level of proficiency that enables them to successfully complete regular classroom work, they may be integrated into the mainstream of a regular education program. Students eligible for this program include those that have a hearing loss ranging from mild to profound, which interferes with the development of the communication process and results in failure to achieve.
Itinerant hearing support teachers possess knowledge of deaf culture and signing skills necessary to instruct and communicate with deaf and hard of hearing students. They assist in the identification of students thought to be at risk and seek appropriate support and involvement of resource personnel to enhance instruction and student welfare. Hearing support teachers assess students referred for hearing evaluations using air and bone conduction, audiometry, impedance testing, language assessments, speech, reading and auditory discrimination.
They also inventory and investigate the students' academic profile data. Hearing support teachers provide input for Evaluation Reports (ER) and when appropriate, monitor the ER process, develop and write the ER. Hearing support teachers actively participate on multidisciplinary teams in the multidisciplinary evaluations, and they assist in the development and implementation of various instructional techniques to meet the students' goals, objectives, individual needs, interests and abilities. Programming is implemented via a trans-disciplinary approach for children who are exhibiting difficulties as a result of their lack of hearing having a negative impact on their educational performance.
Hearing support teachers assist with the creation of environments that are conducive to learning and appropriate levels and interests of the students. Hearing Support teachers receive training, as appropriate, to work with students who have cochlear implants and the need for assistive technology.
EDUCATIONAL AUDIOLOGICAL SERVICES
Audiology is a related service designed to support and assist students with hearing and listening related disabilities so that they may benefit from their educational program.
Educational audiology is a bridge from traditional clinical services to the classroom. The goal is to integrate the benefits of amplification into the classroom environment while educating the staff to the benefits and limitations of hearing aids and assistive technology.
All children with a hearing loss require periodic audiologic evaluations, rigorous monitoring of amplification and regular monitoring of communication skills. Children with even a mild hearing loss experience problems in the following areas: hearing faint or distant speech (more than 25% of classroom instruction could be missed); hearing subtle conversational cues that could cause a child to react inappropriately; following fast-paced verbal exchanges; and hearing the fine word-sound distinctions that denote plurality, tense, possessives, etc. In addition, a child with a minimal hearing loss may appear immature and become more fatigued than normal-hearing classmates because of the extra effort needed to hear. In fact, when teachers or parents notice attention and behavior problems, they often do not even consider hearing loss as a possible source of a child’s problem.
The primary roles and responsibilities of educational audiologists include:
- Hearing conservation – Educating parents, teachers, and students about hearing loss and ways to prevent hearing loss.
- Identification of hearing loss – Developing and supervising hearing screening programs, provide training and support for those who conduct hearing screenings, ensuring referral and follow-up is provided for those children who require further evaluation, implementing screening tools to identify those suspect of auditory processing problems.
- Assessment of hearing loss and other abilities – Conducting hearing/acuity testing, functional listening evaluations, FM system evaluations, classroom acoustic evaluations, and initial/annual evaluations for hearing impaired students, interpreting comprehensive hearing evaluations and central auditory processing evaluations.
- Educational planning and support – Collaborating with parents, teachers, and school administrators to ensure that appropriate educational services are delivered to each student with a hearing loss. Support can be provided to classroom teachers and other professionals who work with the student with a hearing loss to describe the student’s use of audition, define the implications of the hearing loss, make recommendations regarding amplification, analyze classroom acoustics and improve the listening environment for the student.
- Direct (re)habilitation services – Providing communication strategies, hearing aid orientation, use and care of amplification, and self-management of hearing needs.
- Family support