Ask Angie ASL + Tips: Back to School
As we begin to prepare for another school year, it is time to get our Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) child ready for their school day. Specialized equipment for your DHH child needs to be taken care of as much as getting a new pencil box. Your child’s hearing aids need to be inspected, cleaned and updated if necessary before returning to school. Please be sure that an ample supply of hearing aid batteries are sent with your child and replenished weekly as needed. You should also send in a hearing aid case so if your child needs to remove their hearing aids for whatever reason during the day, they are not lost/damaged during the day.
Getting your child back into a routine of preparing for school is also important. Devices for a DHH child and other devices for around the house (i.e., alarm clocks) can be found in resources such as ADCOhearing.com and Harris Communication. Both companies are wonderful suppliers of equipment and novelty items for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some great parenting sites for DHH students are: ASLized.org; deafchildren.org and Hands and Voices.
Reading stories is always important. Some great apps with ASL stories are Signed Stories; The Baobob;The Boy that Cried Wolf and The Blue Lobster.
Last year in the state of Florida, we worked on assuring that all children with the label of DHH on their lEPs would have a completed Model Communication Plan in place during their IEP meetings. This is a document that reviews the type of hearing loss the student has, equipment types used with the student and certain accommodations necessary for their success in their current educational placement. Your input should have been asked in regards to this form and the types of communication your child is currently using to access their school environment. Please check to see if your child needs one of these in your state and if your district is making this accessible for you. You can check out more information on fldoe.org or with your school’s liaison representative.
Other important screenings are an updated audiogram and a screening for Usher Syndrome. Annual updates to your child’s audiogram are usually mandated at each IEP to keep the DHH services. I know, most don’t happen annually, but when schools lose funding during audits, then no one wins. Usher Syndrome is a rare syndrome that is genetic. If your child has a sensory neural loss from birth in both ears, then your child should be screened at least once starting as early as 3rd grade and sometime between 7th – 12th grade. A screening assessment is done by the DHH teacher and the Vision Specialist. If more extensive testing is needed, a letter of recommendation will go home to the parents for them to seek a medical opinion. For more information, please visit http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/usher.aspx.
I hope you have found this information useful as we approach another school year.
Angie Craft, author and teacher, brings over 26 years of experience in deaf education and is committed to serving the deaf community. Keenly aware of the isolation that deaf students often experience, Angie developed and wrote HandCraftEdASL to bridge the communication gap between deaf children who primarily use American Sign Language and their parents, peers or educators. www.handcraftedasl.com