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It takes teamwork: mainstreaming kids with hearing loss

Aug 2016 Healthy Hearing

Since the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, the number of children mainstreamed into public schools with hearing loss has increased dramatically. About 75 percent of children with hearing loss are now mainstreamed into public schools, and about half of those children spend the majority of the day in a “hearing” classroom. Many different professionals play a part. They work in collaboration with each other in the best interests of the child to facilitate a good outcome. The more you know about the roles, the more comfortable you will be interacting with staff and, most importantly, being an effective advocate for your child.

Certified educational interpreter (CEI): The CEI is generally responsible for ensuring communication access at school and for sitting with the student during class and translating the teacher’s spoken English into signed communication if needed. Ideally, the educational interpreter can sign in both English and American Sign Language (ASL). Although the interpreter is a valuable part of the educational team, the exact role of the CEI differs based on each child's individual needs according to the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Mainstreaming Kids with hearing lossResponsibilities include:

● attending IEP meetings.
● sharing observations about how well the student understands the interpreted classroom or any other issues related to interpreting.
● providing communication access not only in the classroom but across a variety of educational settings including recess and extra-curricular activities.

Teacher of the deaf: Also known as an itinerant teacher or hearing support teacher, this person plays a vital role in facilitating the personal, social and intellectual development of the student by helping with language acquisition, communication and advocacy skills. Part teacher, part counselor, they work with the student, staff and administration and communicate with parents regarding the child’s educational progress. They also help students with amplification needs (e.g. making sure an FM system is working properly).

Other responsibilities include:

  • meeting on a regular basis with the student to provide support.
  • assisting in the development of the IEP.
  • working within the IEP to help develop an educational plan.
  • acting as liaison to other school personnel.
  • monitoring personal hearing instruments or other hearing technology to ensure they are in working order.
  • troubleshooting to diagnose and fix any basic problems with hearing equipment.
  • contacting the school-based audiologist for more complex equipment problems or need for repair.

Educational audiologist: EA’s have a broader role to manage school-based hearing screening programs and promote healthy hearing, but when it comes to the individual student with hearing loss, their role becomes more focused. They communicate with the teacher of the deaf in order to make sure all personal listening devices and audiological equipment are calibrated and in working order, and they make recommendations based on the results of hearing evaluations.

Other duties include:

  • collecting and reviewing outside audiological evaluations for students with hearing loss.
  • performing comprehensive hearing evaluations, interpreting results and making educational recommendations based on those results.
  • assessing classroom acoustics and making recommendations to improve the listening environment including hearing assistive technology.
  • managing and making recommendations for personal hearing devices.
  • participating in IEP meetings.

Speech-language pathologist (SLP): Also known as a speech therapist, the SLP works closely with the school audiologist to gain insight into how a student is managing with regard to their hearing devices (e.g. cochlear implants). In the event that the school does not have an educational audiologist, the SLP becomes the lead staff member to work with children who have cochlear implants and works with the child’s clinical audiologist to understand how the equipment is affecting language development. SLP’s also develop communication and linguistic goals for each student so they can achieve a level of verbal communication on par with their hearing peers.

Other duties include:

  • correcting, improving and preventing communication disorders.
  • assessing the student’s communication skills.
  • evaluating the results of comprehensive assessments.
  • offering input into the development of the IEP.
  • collaborating with teachers and other staff.
  • integrating communication goals with social and academic goal.


Case manager: Often the primary contact for parents, it is the responsibility of the case manager to oversee all aspects of the child’s mainstreamed education. They are responsible for seeing the child’s IEP is followed and that every effort is made to help the child achieve their goals.

Other responsibilities include:

  • facilitating placement in the appropriate grade and classroom.
  • training classroom staff in matters of hearing loss including hearing assistive equipment.
  • scheduling team meetings.
  • working with parents.
  • reporting student’s progress.
  • assuring that all materials and services are in place for the student.
  • communicating all decisions to parents and team members.
  • communicating any safety and welfare needs of the student to team members.

Events Coming Up

28 Oct 2018;
10:30AM - 02:00PM
Illawarra Cochlear Implant Support Group
11 Nov 2018;
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