Early February 2018
Providing communication access to students often includes auxiliary aids and services, like hearing aids, FM/DM hearing assistance technology, and/or sign language interpreters. Yet we cannot assume that students are using these accommodations as well as they need to if they are to access information optimally.
Although students who are hard of hearing now receive hearing aids at much younger ages than they did in decades past, they still will not learn all of the auditory skills hierarchy (by age 4 as their hearing peers do) – unless direct teaching occurs.
A student may have been raised with ASL as his primary language, or he may be in a ‘learn as you go’ situation with this communication modality added later in early childhood. Understanding what the interpreter is signing is a prerequisite for this accommodation to truly provide communication access.
Just because we provide hearing devices and/or an interpreter, does not mean the student can use this input effectively.
This fact may come as an ‘aha’ to administrators and educators who ‘see that the child can hear’ or ‘see that the child watches the interpreter.’ Optimizing how well the student is able to benefit from the communication that they perceive only makes sense if we are to truly ‘level the playing field’ and provide an appropriate education to students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The PARC: Placement and Readiness Checklists for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing include a General Inclusion Checklist and an Instructional Communication Access Checklist that are useful in identifying the level of access and readiness of students, regardless of their communication modalities. There are specific Placement and Readiness Checklists for Preschool/Kindergarten, Elementary, and Secondary grade students. Finally, there is the Interpreted/ Transliterated Education Readiness Checklist that iterates many factors that go into a student being able to fully benefit from a sign language interpreter or cued speech transliterator.