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IEP Discussion Guide: Opportunities for Direct Instruction & Communication Transcript

[Opening slide with the words, "This webinar series is provided by the Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans and by the Minnesota Department of Education.]

[Title slide: "Opportunities for Direct Instruction and Communication"]

[A woman appears (Mai Lor). She is standing on one side of the screen and begins to speak. Above her is the following text, "Presenter: Mai Lor, Parent of a three-year-old who is hard of hearing." To her right is a sign language interpreter, Susan Boinis.]

Hello, my name is Mai Lor and I am a parent of a three-year-old daughter who has a hearing loss in both ears and wears a bone-anchored hearing aid, which is also called a BAHA, on one side and a behind-the-ear hearing aid on the other side. My daughter just finished her first year of preschool.

[The text above Mai is replaced with, "Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act. IEP teams should consider * student's language and communication needs * opportunities for direct communication with teachers, peers, and other staff in the child's language and communication mode"]

Mai continues: The law called the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Act, also known as IDEA, helps teams of people to develop an IEP.  In that law, there is a section that people need to think about for students who are deaf or hard of hearing because of the challenges they have with language and communication access. You will notice throughout this webinar series that we talk about again and again the student’s need for direct communication with teachers, peers, and other staff in the child’s language such as English or other spoken languages or ASL or cued English.  

[The text above Mai changes to a bubble graphic. In the center bubble are the words, "Discussion Prompts" and the 5 surrounding bubbles say, "Direct Instruction" "Interaction with DHH peers and Adults" "Accommodation" "Access" and "Visual Language Needs".]

Mai continues: Use the discussion prompts to talk about the communication access and language of instruction that the student is currently using and determine if there is enough access within the classroom and school.  Being deaf or hard of hearing is not only a challenge in school.  Communication access is impacted throughout the full day.  This is why parents are important team members who can share what is working or not working when communicating at home and in the community as well.

[The graphic above Mai is replace with an illustration of a typical classroom with students and a teacher. There is also text, "Communication Challenges * Background noise * Change of amplification * Recess * Cafeteria * Social situations * Small groups"]

Mai continues: When a student is deaf or hard of hearing, direct communication with teachers, paraprofessionals, and other students are affected.  For example, hard of hearing students often have a lot of trouble in noise.  In middle school, kids work in small groups in the classroom, with many people talking at the same time.   Some students may want to be more independent and they may begin to reject using assistive listening devices because it makes them feel even more different.  Sometimes having students work in a quiet hallway or another small space, or making groups no more than 3 students helps. In elementary school, recess may also be challenging when kids get older and games involve more language.  This includes hopscotch rhymes, imaginative play or sitting and talking with friends.   For many hard of hearing or deaf students, lunchtime in the cafeteria is very difficult due to background noise or not being able to find specific peers they can communicate well with. Some students do better in a structured class but struggle during social situations.  Others have more difficulty understanding what the teacher is saying because of vocabulary and speed of information, but they are able to make a few close friends.  Each student is individual.

[The visual aid and text above Mai is replaced with 3 images. The first image shows a silhouette of 2 people facing each other. In between the silhouettes are the words, "Communication is key." The second image shows two young girls signing to each other and smiling. The third shows a group of kids sitting together at a lunch table with their food.]

Mai continues: Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may have sign language interpreters or cued language transliterators in the classroom.  However, students also need communication with classmates who sign, cue or speak directly to them.  If there are deaf and hard of hearing students in the same school, lunch might be scheduled together, or students may play after school in sports or join the same clubs.  Sometimes, the team needs to decide on a placement in a school or program for deaf students that allow immersion in American Sign Language, cued languages or connections with other deaf or hard of hearing students throughout the school day.

Also, some students have quieter personalities and are more reserved when trying to start a conversation with classmates.  Other students have more outgoing personalities and are comfortable telling classmates and teachers what they need or even teaching hearing peers cued speech or American  Sign Language.  Students talking with other students in ASL or cued speech or even just being able to share experiences by chatting seem to develop more self-confidence with themselves and what it’s like to be deaf or hard of hearing.

[The images above Mai are replaced with the following text, "Teaching Strategies to Consider * Small Group Instruction * Direct Instruction from a teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing * Consultation with General Education Teacher"]

Mai continues: Sometimes working in small groups of 2-3 kids in a quieter space with a teacher of deaf/hard of hearing, helps students to feel more included, comfortable and confident learning slang and idioms and other social languages.  These friendships may transfer to the playground, lunch and outside of school.  For those students using cued speech or American Sign Language, direct instruction by the teacher of deaf/hard of hearing fluent in these languages or systems helps to develop strong language skills.  Teachers of deaf/hard of hearing have specialized training and knowledge that can help students learn more vocabulary words, and understand language.  These skills may different than other special education teachers.  Teachers of deaf/hard of hearing better understand and should be able to explain why students struggle because they don’t overhear conversations or other information such as on media.  This is called incidental learning. They also can consult with teachers who need more information about how to support and teach deaf or hard of hearing students.

[The text above Mai is replaced with a graphic. In the center circle is the word, "Success". There are 4 surrounding boxes with arrows pointing to the success circle. Each box has one word. The words are, "Language" "Communication" "Advocacy" and "Access".]

Mai continues: It is important that all students who are deaf/hard of hearing have language to advocate for themselves when they start working or go to college or training programs.  If they go to the local school district or if they are in a program or school for deaf and hard of hearing students, it doesn’t matter.  They all need to learn to advocate and ask for help.  Often students need to role-play to know what and how to say things.  They need to learn how to talk and interact with co-workers on the job when they are the only deaf or hard of hearing person.  Teachers of deaf/hard of hearing may practice with students using ASL, cued speech or spoken language.  Vocational vocabulary is also important to learn.  These teachers can also help connect vocational rehabilitation counselors who are trained to work with deaf and hard of hearing clients.  

Finally, it is important for the IEP team to use data and observations from the functional listening evaluation combined with systematic classroom observations to compare what hard of hearing and deaf students understand in classes, compared to students who are hearing.  Hard of hearing students, who may have done well in earlier grades, may need more support because classes have more vocabulary and are faster paced.  Direct social communication with peers may change over time as students become more aware of their hearing loss and the language of their peers changes.  It is important that teams continue to review communication and language needs for individual students each year.  I know as a mom, that my daughter’s communication skills will change as she gets older, so we will need to continue to talk about direct communication with her peers in school.

[Video fades to the original slide with the words, "This webinar series is provided by The Commission of Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing Minnesotans and by the Minnesota Department of Education."]

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