If the family wants an ASL interpreter is the school required to provide one?Question from the field: We have two students who were raised by Deaf families in ASL environments. Both have moderate to severe hearing loss with access to speech via amplification. The students are preschool and in grade 1. Neither are fluent in listening and spoken language (LSL). The district doesn’t want to provide interpreters because the students can ‘hear’. One student is not fluent enough in LSL to access verbal instruction. The other student has significant LSL skills but still reports frequent frustrations with access and comprehension.
Academic learning is driven by communication access.This statement needs to be restated repeatedly and remembered constantly! The premise of providing a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) begins with the assumption that the student will be exposed to – and be able to perceive – school instruction. Job #1 in FAPE, especially for students with hearing loss, is to ensure access to instruction. As clarified by the US Supreme Court in 2017, schools need to provide instructional services and supports necessary for the student to make meaningful progress in the regular curriculum in light of the child’s circumstances. Minimal achievement gains are not enough. For students with hearing loss who have no other learning issues, the child’s primary circumstance is a lack of full communication access as the cause of past and present learning issues.
|iv) Consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of the child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communication with peers and professional personnel in the child’s language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child’s language and communication mode, and (v) Consider whether the child requires assistive communication devices and services. 34 CFR 303.324(2)|
1. How effectively is the student able to access/comprehend using his or her communication mode(s)?
2. What appears to be the level of comprehension in different situations (i.e., quiet vs noisy class)?
3. If the child uses both sign and spoken language the team needs to understand how, when, where, why and who the child communicates with each language modality. Spoken language may be adequate for routine activities but not sufficient for the student to (fully) comprehend teacher instruction.
4. How will the student access the inferential learning opportunities that hearing children are exposed to daily? What about peer-to-peer interactions, such as group work or class discussion?
5. What hearing technology does the student use and the level of benefit? Do the hearing aids plus an FM/DM device allow the student to close their comprehension gap fully? What is his ‘listening gap’?
6. What is the student’s language level in comparison to the teacher’s instructional language level? Does comprehension of instruction increase from one communication modality over another?
7. What is the student’s ASL vocabulary development level in comparison to their spoken language development level? (Refer to the White Paper on Estimating Access for more information)
8. What level of facilitation will be needed for the student to be able to meaningfully communicate with peers and adults?
When a child can be observed to ‘hear’ it is logical – but incorrect – to assume that they can understand.Data must be collected to determine how and when either ASL or LSL is the most effective means of communication for a student who has some skills in both. Data drives informed decision-making.
Learning a new language takes exposure and TEACHING when there are delays due to access issues.There are two important pieces of knowledge that have been gained from research on language learning by children who receive cochlear implants that are applicable to question from the field.
a. Children who develop language via signing and then are implanted will more quickly learn listening and spoken language. As they are exposed and taught LSL, their previous language experience works as a scaffold to support verbal language learning. The better the ASL language level, the faster the rate of spoken language development once consistent hearing and appropriate LSL instruction are provided.
b. It takes time! Access to sound does not magically result in knowledge of spoken language. Knowledge must be learned. A child who is 5 years old or older who is implanted and heavily reliant on signs takes a minimum of 12 months of appropriate, knowledgeable, and intensive instruction in listening and spoken language before a major improvement in language can be expected. Not age equivalent comprehension – but beginning to rely on spoken language in some situations for understanding.In the case of a child who was raised in an ASL environment that did not include an emphasis and consistent work to develop LSL skills it can be assumed that just having hearing aids on did not allow the child to develop spoken language at an adequate rate to allow him or her to be able to comprehend and compete with age peers within a typical classroom setting without an ASL interpreter. Based on language levels in ASL and LSLS, key decisions would likely be:
- What intensity of direct intervention in listening skills is necessary to result in LSL fluency within one (Two? Three?) academic year? Daily intensive intervention by a skilled LSL provider may be likely as the child will not be exposed many hours to good spoken language models outside of school. The sooner the student can rely on listening as the primary access to classroom learning the sooner the expense of having an interpreter can be eliminated.
- What is the plan for the interpreter, classroom teacher, and classroom aide (if any) to work together to facilitate the student’s communication during instruction, incidental language exposure, and peer-to-peer communication? When would LSL be used? When would ASL be used?
- What are the communication benchmarks to look for during progress monitoring that will signal a switch from full interpretation of all class communication to using ASL to scaffold what the child does not understand when presented information by spoken language only? This is an incremental stepwise process.
Free resource provides invaluable information for teachers working with multiple grade levels:
Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing must have curriculum expertise for multiple grade levels, including staying abreast of the words and concepts being taught. One resource created by Texas educators is https://www.lead4ward.com. Concepts and vocabulary introduced in each grade, along with previous concepts to be mastered are included for all core subject areas from kindergarten to high school. This academic vocabulary can be extremely helpful in planning your pre-instruction.
Tips for vocabulary instruction:1. Scaffolding– Learning the meaning of a new word may be more effectively taught when students can relate new words to prior knowledge. Effective teachers relate new vocabulary to what a child is likely to already know rather than to a dictionary or glossary definition. For example, when teaching the word ‘severe,’ the student may learn it better when it is related to a personal experience (e.g. a severe injury) than to a story about the weather. For some students with hearing loss, teaching the word injury will be required while learning the word severe. 2. Explicit Instruction – Put away your assumptions about what you think the student knows and teach to be sure the student can say/sign the word, recognize it in print and in visual representation, discuss the word’s multiple meanings, and use it in its various contexts. 3. Discussion – For deeper understanding, discussion is paramount. The term “discussion” is not to be confused with “questioning.” Discussion, in a group setting, involves questions or comments going from student-to-student with the teacher acting as a facilitator where questioning usually goes from teacher-to-student, back to teacher, and then to another student, with content being more strictly controlled by the teacher. Discuss:
a. the definition b. multiple meanings c. produce synonyms and antonyms d. practice using the word in reading and writing, and e. provide examples and non-examples of appropriate use of the word.4. Visual/graphic organizers– Visual/graphic organizers show relationships between words and make information easier to manage. Our students need to be able to identify attributes and categorize words in various ways.
|The ability to organize words and information makes word retrieval easier.|
Which vocabulary words?
- Tier 1 words are words students are likely to know (happy, mom)
- Tier 2 words appear in many contexts and across content areas (equal, state)
- Tier 3 words are content-specific (chromosome, biosphere)
|Pre-teaching vocabulary is NOT tutoring – it is specialized instruction.|
- Price, L. (2014). Visualizing vocabulary: Improving word association & retrieval skills [.pdf]. Retrieved from https://successforkidswithhearingloss.com/ Webcast available from The Online Itinerant.
- Knoors, H. & Marschark, M. (2014). Teaching deaf learners. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Easterbrooks, S.R. & Beal-Alvarez, J. (2013). Literacy instruction for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Gambrell, L.B. & Morrow, L.M. (2013). Best practices in literacy instruction (5th). New York: Guilford Press.
- Schirmer, B.R. (1994). Language and literacy development in children who are deaf. New York: Macmillan.
- Hart, B.O. (1963). Teaching reading to deaf children. Washington, D.C.: Alexander Graham Bell Association for The Deaf, Inc.
What program is most appropriate for a preschooler with cochlear implants?While this question needs to be answered on an individual basis, a 2004 court case provides important insights into what an appropriate program is – and is not. Click here to read through the rest of the Early November Update
What program is most appropriate for a preschooler with cochlear implants?While this question needs to be answered on an individual basis, a 2004 court case provides important insights into what an appropriate program is – and is not. The many factors that influence a child’s success with a cochlear implant include1:
- 1. Setting Appropriate Expectations and Communication Goals with a Cochlear Implant. https://advancedbionics.com/content/dam/advancedbionics/Documents/libraries/Tools-for-Schools/Educational_Support/presentations/Expectations_for_Cochlear_Implantation/ExpectationsforCochlearImplantation_Notes.pdf
- 2. Tools for Toddlers: TRACKING AUDITORY PROGRESS in children with cochlear implants. https://advancedbionics.com/content/dam/advancedbionics/Documents/libraries/Tools-for-Toddlers/early-intervention-professionals-teachers-therapists/Tracking-Auditory-Progress.pdf
- 3. N. vs St. Johns County School Board. https://successforkidswithhearingloss.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Court-case-need-for-appropriate-preschool-program-for-child-with-CI.pdf
Why practice auditory skills?Listening is essential to communicating. Many who write about the contribution of listening skills to school success cite a study by Wilt2, which analyzed how time spent communicating is broken into different activities. Wilt found that people listen 45% of the time they spend communicating, 30 % of communication time was speaking, 16% reading, and 9 % writing. Listening practice can improve listening skills. Sweetow3 reviewed dozens of studies of auditory training and found that improvements in communication strategies—and often in sentence recognition—can be expected. When using a synthetic training approach, participants listen to spoken language, often at the sentence level, and learn to use visual cues, context and knowledge of language to understand the information. Listening practice is underrepresented in most general education curricula. Listening can be challenging for many students, and even more difficult for students with hearing loss. If our students are to have improve their access to communication in the classroom, discussing listening challenges and practicing listening skills must happen during their time with professionals who understand hearing loss. Q: How can we find time to assess and practice auditory skills? A: Apply the Speech Perception Lens to every lesson. Auditory speech perception is the set of skills needed to understand spoken language through listening. Improvement of speech perception can lead to better comprehension and production of spoken language. If you wonder where to find the time in your daily schedule to add auditory practice, each month the Listening Strategies article in Teacher Tools provides new ready-to-use cross-curricular activities for auditory practice while also addressing common curriculum goals.
Four abilities4 comprise speech perception. Listed in order of complexity:
- Detect or hear sounds
- Discriminate, or recognize how spoken utterances (e.g., phonemes, words, sentences) are different from each other
- Identify, or attach meaning to, spoken utterances, and
- Use all that auditory information to comprehend discourse such as phrases, sentences and conversations
|Incorporating auditory speech perception practice into lessons that are aligned with academic objectives can take full advantage of the time the D/HH professional spends with a student, while also targeting auditory skill sets for students with hearing loss.|
Use the Speech Perception Lens for Error AnalysisStep One: Analyze the auditory task. To examine auditory tasks, looking at the first column of this table to find the complexity level of the spoken message to which the student will listen. For an early reader, a lesson on sound-letter matching will ask the student to listen to a phoneme. In a small group or partner discussion, the student will be listening to discourse. Next, determine how the student will be responding. If the student is simply indicating that she heard something, a rare task in an educational setting, the task is one of detection. If the student is expected to repeat what was heard, the task is identification. Most educational tasks require the student to demonstrate comprehension by making a choice. The choice may be within a given set of possible answers, or it may be an open choice based on information learned. The student who hears the phoneme /m/ and is expected to point to the letter m or write it, is showing comprehension of a phonemic relationship. The student who listens to a classmate’s opinion and then responds to show agreement or disagreement is showing comprehension of a sentence or discourse, depending on the length of the classmate’s statement. Step Two: Know the essential features of vowels and consonants. Vowels vary from one another based on the location in the vocal tract in which they resonate. Vowels which resonate near one another sound similar. Consonants, however, vary based on the way in which they are produced – whether they are nasal (like /n/), require a stopping of breath (like /t/), or produce a sound caused by friction of air passing through a restricted space (like /s/). Errors are more likely to happen when listening to sounds that are produced in the same way, like /s/ and /z/. Read more here.
The Bottom Line: Do Something!Professionals who work in a one-to-one or very small group session with students who have hearing loss can provide guided practice using materials from the student’s academic curriculum. In these sessions, the adult will be able to determine the possible reasons for an error and help the student find strategies to avoid that type of error in the classroom. New lessons and strategies for listening success can be found in the monthly Teacher Tools magazine.
- 1. Ferguson, M. A., & Henshaw, H. (2015). Frontiers in psychology, 6, 556.
- 2. Miriam E. Wilt(1950) A Study of Teacher Awareness of Listening as a Factor in Elementary Education, The Journal of Educational Research, 43:8, 626-636, DOI: 1080/00220671.1950.10881817
- 3. J Am Acad Audiol.2005 Jul-Aug;16(7):494-504. Efficacy of individual auditory training in adults: a systematic review of the evidence.
- 4. Erber, N.P. (1982). Auditory training. Washington DC: AG Bell Association for the Deaf