What are the goals of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support Program?
- Identify & assess students with hearing loss, and provide them with an appropriate support program & instruction to maximize the student’s learning potential
- Provide the student with the educational skills and accommodations needed to be successful in the least restrictive environment
- Recommend and monitor auditory equipment
- Facilitate literacy, self-advocacy and independent living skills
- Offer students appropriate access to the education environment
Who is eligible for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support Services?
Any student of school age, residing in Allegheny County, is eligible if he/she exhibits one or more of the following:
- Documented hearing loss of 25db or greater
- Documented academic delay
- Documented chronic middle ear infections
- Uses a hearing aid
How are students referred for Services?
Students are referred to the program by their school district. A referral form accompanied by a copy of the student’s most current clinical audiogram is required to initiate the referral process (click here to view a referral form).
How is eligibility determined?
A student is eligible if he/she has a documented hearing loss and is in need of specially designed instruction in order to reach his/her potential. The determination of eligibility for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support Services is made through a comprehensive assessment by a multi-disciplinary evaluation team. The multidisciplinary assessment may include:
- Educational Functional Hearing Assessment
- Speech/Language Assessment
- Assessment in any other area thought to be significant in determining the student’s unique needs
What is an Educational Functional Hearing Assessment?
An Educational Functional Hearing Assessment may include the following:
- Functional Listening Assessment
- Auditory Skills Assessment
- Speechreading Assessment
- Receptive and Expressive Language Assessment
- Phonemic Awareness Assessment
- Reading Assessment
- Teacher and Parent Reports
- Review of Audiological and Academic records
What services can be provided to the student?
The AIU Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support Program can provide services in a variety of ways. The type of service delivery is based on each child’s needs and abilities and the information gathered in the evaluation process.
Service delivery can include any of the following:
- Consultative and Monitoring
Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing may provide consultative services to school district personnel who have a student with a hearing loss in their classrooms. These services may include instruction on accommodations that are necessary in the regular education classroom to ensure that the student with a hearing loss can access the curriculum. These include preferential seating, reduction in background noise, visual presentation of materials, close captioning of TV, DVDs, etc.
Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing may provide monitoring services for students who do not require direct instruction. Teachers contact the students and their regular education teachers periodically throughout the school year with the goal of monitoring the academic progress, social and self-advocacy skills of the student.
Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing provide direct instruction to an individual or a small group of students to support academic areas and to strengthen language, speechreading, auditory and self-advocacy skills as determined by the Individualized Education Program. Support may also be provided in hearing aid orientation, vocabulary development, reading literacy and writing skills, and test taking and study skills.
Itinerant teachers also monitor the functioning of hearing aids and personal FM amplification devices in the school setting.
Resource Room services are provided in a public school setting for students who require more direct service time and intensive instruction from a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. The student usually spends part of the school day in a Hearing Resource room, receiving individualized instruction in reading, language arts, or other areas of need, in addition to support in the subjects taken in regular education.
Students in Resource Rooms may receive direct instruction in the preferred mode of communication (a sign system, oral communication), using specific methods, equipment and materials designed for students with hearing loss.
What are the enrollment procedures?
The following are state mandated procedures required in the public school program in order to enroll a student into Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support:
- Permission to Evaluate: This form is sent to parents after a student has been referred by the school district and the Educational Audiologist and Supervisor have reviewed the student’s clinical audiogram. It gives the Hearing Support Program permission to conduct an evaluation.
- Multidisciplinary Evaluation (MDE)/Evaluation Report (ER): This evaluation and report is completed and signed within 60 calendar days of the Permission to Evaluate form being returned. Each member of the team, which may include the teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing, the Speech and Language pathologist, the classroom teacher, the school counselor, the principal, the school psychologist, the district representative and the parent, is involved in sharing the following:
- Educational, social and physical history
- Summary/interpretation of diagnostic assessments
- Strengths of the student
- Degree of need of the student
- Information from the parents about home and from the teacher about the classroom.
- Invitation to the IEP Meeting: This form is sent to the parents after the ER has been completed and circulated.
- IEP: A meeting is held and an IEP is developed and reviewed every year. This provides information on the student’s strengths and needs, and lists both annual goals and short term objectives. The specially designed instruction that will be utilized is also listed. Parental involvement in this process is critical.
- Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP): This form gives permission for the student to be placed in Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support.
Who is responsible for a student’s personal hearing aids?
Personal hearing aids, either traditional or surgically implantable, are considered to be personal medical devices that are obtained, provided and maintained by the student’s family through the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program or private health insurance.
Routine listening checks are performed by the AIU Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing for students wearing personal hearing aids during scheduled Hearing Support time, as indicated on the IEP. AIU teachers insure proper hearing aid function by performing light troubleshooting and informal listening checks of personal hearing aids with use of a listening stethoscope, battery tester and supplies for cleaning of earmolds. Minor repairs may be reported to the AIU Educational Audiologist for correction. Extensive malfunctions or earmold problems are reported to the parents for repair or replacement through their private insurance and Clinical/Dispensing Audiologist.
An electro-acoustic evaluation of personal hearing aids is available, if indicated, by the Educational Audiologist.
The student’s family is responsible for routine replacement of personal hearing aid batteries. Students who qualify for the Pennsylvania Medical Assistance Program may obtain batteries at a participating pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription. Extra batteries should be available to the student during the school day, if the need arises. It is recommended that parents provide extra batteries to the elementary school nurse and that the expiration date of the batteries should be monitored regularly. Older students who are known to be sufficiently responsible may keep extra batteries with their personal items in school. Caution should be exercised to avoid accidental ingestion of batteries by any student who may come in contact with new or discarded batteries.
Who is responsible for a student’s school-purchased assistive listening device?
Some students use additional Assistive Listening Devices, such as Personal FM Systems or Individual Soundfield Systems during the school day. These devices may be used in addition to, or instead of a personal hearing aid. Assistive Listening Devices are provided and maintained by the school district and are monitored by the AIU Hearing Support Teacher and the AIU Educational Audiologist in the same manner as the personal hearing aids. Repairs and replacement of batteries and earmolds are referred to the AIU Audiologist on an as needed basis. Each personal FM system also receives at least an annual evaluation and repair if indicated, which is usually conducted during the summer vacation to prepare the device for use during the school year.
Large group classroom Soundfield FM systems are provided and maintained by the school district’s building personnel.
What teachers need to know when they have a student with a hearing loss.
Listed below are some recommendations for school district teachers who have a child with a hearing loss in their classes.
- Seat the student in the front of the room near the teacher.
- Reduce background noise as much as possible. Do not seat the student near a noise-making device such as a fan, aquarium, etc.
- Speak naturally – avoid exaggerations.
- Keep hands, books and papers away from your face.
- Face the student at all times when you are speaking. Do not speak when you are writing on the board.
- Get the student’s attention before giving assignments or announcements.
- Stand in one place when giving instructions.
- Don’t ask the student if he can hear. A child with a hearing loss may be able to hear you speak but may not understand what you are saying.
- Check for understanding frequently, but don’t use yes/no questions.
- Rephrase a question or statement instead of just repeating it.
- Be sure the light is on your face for easier speechreading. Do not stand with your back to a bright light or window.
- Write assignments and any new and unusual words on the chalkboard.
- Encourage the students in class to face each other during discussions so that the child with a hearing loss may follow what is happening.
- When using a video, DVD, or a television program for instruction, be sure that it is close-captioned.
- Do not require a student with a hearing loss to complete a worksheet during a video/DVD/television program. The student is not able to watch the program and write at the same time. Instead, allow him to complete the worksheet after the program is finished.
- Do not give oral tests to students with hearing loss.
- Remember that the child with a hearing loss may tire easily and appear inattentive because he must expend more energy watching and listening to what is being said.
- Become familiar with the proper use of any assistive listening devices used by the student.
- Call the Allegheny Intermediate Unit Deaf/Hard of Hearing Support Program (412-394-5843) if you have questions or concerns.