Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back To School!

     Everybody having fun going back to school?  I am.  One thing about being Deaf or Hard of Hearing, is that we need support at school to access education.  That’s the primary reason I have an IEP, Individualized Education Plan, which is a formal, legal document that specifies what accommodations the school will provide.
     The IEP is a very long document, my last one was 20+ pages long, and has a lot of boilerplate information included.  What I have found most useful for my teachers to get a quick and better understanding of what I need, is to send them the one page “Instructional Accommodations or Modifications” page, located somewhere in the middle of the IEP.  I also send along a few other documents and links, including, but not limited to, suggested classroom accommodations (which one teacher told me helps everyone in class, not just D/HH students), a visual audiogram showing pictures of sounds demonstrating frequencies, loudness, and the speech banana (where common sounds of the English language occur), links to some YouTube videos and this blog.  I think the teachers like the YouTube videos, because they're engaging tutorials and YouTube recommends other related videos.  I like them because they get the point across.
      I used to present all this information to my teachers right before school started, but now I find it more practical to send this out at the end of the previous year, so that teachers can think about their classroom structure.  For instance, in some classes, there may be a lot of heated discussions.  Multiple people talking (or debating) at once is very difficult for me to follow.  It might be difficult for everyone else to follow, but it is especially difficult for me since I rely on lip reading.  One of my teachers worked out a system where she clipped my FM microphone onto a beanie baby, and only the person with the beanie baby could speak.  It worked pretty well, until some conversations got a little intense!
      The links I share with teachers are:
  • Example showing the difference between normal hearing and mild, moderate, and severe hearing losses.  It’s very cool, because how often do you see a popular cartoon as an educational tool anyway?  House Ear shows the difference between hearing losses.  The cool part is that I don't hear any difference between them without hearing aids, but a person with regular hearing can hear significant differences between each segment.  I should also note that even with my hearing aids in use, I only hear in the moderate range.  With hearing aids, I can detect the volume difference between the segments, but not much more.  I also caught myself trying to lip-read the cartoon characters.
  • Article explaining how exhausting lip reading can be.  Rachel Kolb, who did the presentation referred to above and appeared in Stanford Magazine, wrote this and I think it a great explanation of what D/HH students have to go through in all environments with speech.Lipreading Article