- What is your role in working with children with hearing loss, or more specifically, what are your duties that involve children with hearing loss?
“I work with children that are deaf/profoundly hard of hearing on learning sign language. I also hold support groups for families with deaf children, and private lessons for teaching whole families how to sign ASL. I often advocate for children that are deaf in IEP meetings.”
- When you work with children who have hearing loss, what are the two or three consequences or effects of the hearing loss that you think have the biggest impact on the child’s life?
“A lot of the time, children that are born deaf are born to parents that are hearing. There can be a disconnect between the parents and the children when this happens, because they both naturally communicate in different ways. This can lead the parents to have some difficult decisions when it comes to determining how the child should be taught to communicate or how the child’s communication is supported. Similarly, children with hearing loss have different social experiences than their hearing counterparts, due to the stigma of hearing aids, inability to fully speak orally, etc.”
- Do you think that children with hearing loss are being adequately served in the area where you work?
“I believe that the intent is there, but some people could better serve children that are deaf and their families by being better educated about Deaf culture. Because many of us that work with deaf children are hearing, our culture can be (accidentally or forcefully) imposed on to the Deaf culture. When this happens, children with hearing loss and their families do not get adequately served.”
- What kinds of things would you like to see happen differently for children with hearing loss where you work?
“I have seen some businesses/co-workers impose their own beliefs on how a hard of hearing/deaf child “should” communicate, versus listening to parental concerns and helping to make a decision best for the individual and his/her family. I would like to see people have support in making this critical decisions, versus imposing one preferred method universally.”
- If you are familiar with the speech and language services that children with hearing loss receive in your school or community, do you think that these services are meeting the needs of the students? Why do you think this?
As an advocate, I am frequently helping families offer for more therapy time with their school’s speech pathologist to get more individual time so that the child can be fully supported in learning the best communication strategies. When speech pathologists work with children that are hard of hearing for the right amount of time to make change, they do a great job.
- If you are aware of the hearing related services that children with hearing loss are receiving in the schools or community where you are, do you think that these services are meeting the needs of the students? Why do you think this?
The audiologists in the districts that I am familiar with do a nice job of helping families with low incomes get affordable hearing aids, and then they follow up on fitting the hearing aids properly and teaching families and children how to properly care for the hearing aids.
- Do you have anything that you would like to see done differently by people who work with kids with hearing loss? (e.g. programs, funding, devices, etc..)
Funding can be hard to come by, depending on the situation.
Another critical issue for children that are hard-of-hearing or deaf is that they can be misunderstood by their teachers and peers, based on some of the potential social and academic effects that their hearing loss can have. For example, teachers may misinterpret a child that is hard-of-hearing for a child that behaves badly by choice or needs repetition of directions based on not paying attention. There needs to be special attention paid to the specific issues that children with hearing loss can present with, as well as education for teachers to help remediate some of these issues to make children with hearing loss more academically successful. Teachers and classroom supporters can help to enhance the social experiences had by children that are hard of hearing in the classroom by creating group activities that foster teamwork and camaraderie among hearing children and hard-of-hearing children.
Written By: Taylor Viggers, MS, CF-SLP