[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: "An IEP Meeting for a Middle School Student"]
[Slide: "Background on the Student"]
[A woman appears and begins to speak.]
Jody: Norah is a seventh-grade student in this mock IEP. She is hard of hearing and uses spoken English as her main mode of communication. Norah is also interested in learning ASL. She does not have any academic concerns and is very involved in activities at school and in the community.
[Slide: "The Meeting"]
[Five people are in a meeting room and are sitting at a table. They have papers, pens, cups, and an open laptop in front of them. They are Jay Fehrman (school administrator), Norah Malloy (student), Sheridan Anderson (parent), Jody Waldo (teacher), and Susan Boinis (interpreter).]
Jody: Thank you for coming here today. Let's start with introductions. I'm Jody Waldo, a teacher for the Deaf and hard of hearing.
Sheridan: I'm Sheridan Anderson, Norah's mother.
Norah: I'm Norah Malloy.
Jay: I'm Jay Fehrman. I'm the principal.
Jody: As you know, we are here for Norah’s annual IEP meeting. I met with her classroom teacher and she shared that she is doing well academically and has no concerns in this area. I also talked with you, Sheridan, prior to this meeting and you shared that there are some concerns in other areas. Would you like to elaborate on that?
Sheridan: Yes. We agree Norah is doing well academically, but have noticed her struggling, knowing when she needs to advocate for herself. And she struggles sometimes to pick up on some social cues.
Jody: I have noticed that as well during observations as well as during our DHH time as well. For example, during our lunch bunch groups when Norah brings a few friends with her, sometimes she might miss a comment, and rather than ask for repetition, she might just nod or laugh or not respond at all. What do you think Norah? Do you notice that at all.
Norah: Yes, I guess sometimes. I like to know what people are talking about and don't always like to ask people to say it again, but sometimes I don't realize I missed something so it's hard to know when to advocate for myself.
Jody: That's very true and a really good point. Based on this as well as the fact that her classroom teacher has shared some concerns with peer interactions, I agree that it is an area we maybe need to address. To help guide us and make sure we don’t overlook anything, I would like to use the Discussion Guide that I passed out earlier. [Everyone starts to look at the Discussion Guide.] Because Norah does not have any academic needs or concerns right now, nor does she have any other disability, I think we can go right to the section that's called “What other educationally relevant needs resulting from the student’s hearing loss must be addressed?” And that is on page 15. How does that sound?
Jay: I’m glad to hear that Norah is doing so well. I think it makes sense to go ahead and look at what else her hearing may be impacting.
Sheridan: That sounds great! I also want to be sure we address Norah’s desire to learn ASL. I still really feel this could be beneficial to her in the future and will help her to feel like she fits in better with her friends who are deaf. She has always enjoyed the DHH field trips where she has met a few friends already and attending Camp Sertoma this summer was a wonderful experience for her.
Jody: I'm so glad to hear that! Yes, we will absolutely include this in our discussion. The first prompt is fairly general and asks if Norah has other needs related to her hearing loss. Sheridan, in your opinion, do you feel her hearing loss affects any of these areas?
Sheridan: I think the only area there that I see her struggling is advocacy and social skills. What do you think Norah?
Norah: Yes, I guess.
Jody: Okay. That’s great! It seems like that would fit what we discussed before as well. The next step then is to discuss what areas are affected by those needs and what additional supports and services are needed. Sheridan, what do you currently see Norah doing in regards to advocating for herself and how would you like her to improve in this area?
Sheridan: Norah asks us to repeat things at home, but I don’t always see her do this when she is with her friends or during sporting events that she participates in. I do think there are times when she just doesn’t know when she should advocate for herself or how to get the clarification she needs.
Jay: I think it's fairly common for kids like Norah, but definitely something we want her to be more confident with.
Jody: Yes, I agree. That is definitely something that we can work on. I am thinking that it might be beneficial to work on teaching Norah to not only ask for repetition but ask more clarifying questions when she doesn’t hear or understand something. Along with this, we can work on picking up on social cues. This is something that can easily be integrated into our “Lunch Bunch” times. Based on the Functional Listening Evaluation that I did with Norah, her ability to understand spoken language is actually pretty good - 90-100% accuracy when her FM system is used and she is seated close to the front and she is in a quiet setting. When background noise is added and she's farther away or the FM is not used, Norah may miss up to 20% of the information being presented. Knowing this, I think it's important that we ensure that Norah continues to have accommodations in the classroom such as the FM system, preferential seating, notes written on the board, closed captions and as she gets older we may want to consider whether or not a note taker may be necessary.
Sheridan:I think those accommodations definitely help Norah. I do worry about how things may change as she gets older and the content becomes more challenging. This is one of the reasons I think learning ASL would be beneficial for Norah. Maybe there will be a day that she could use an interpreter and not worry about missing so much.
Jody: That leads us kind of into the next area concerning her exposure and spending time with other deaf/hard of hearing peers and learning ASL. As we mentioned before, Norah has some opportunity to communicate and interact with deaf and hard of hearing peers here at school, but most of them are younger than her. So looking into other ways for her to connect with deaf and hard of hearing peers her age is maybe the next step. Norah attended Camp, you said, this summer for the first time. How did that go?
Sheridan: She loved it! It was a great experience for her and made her want to learn ASL even more.
Norah: Yea, it was really fun! I can't wait to go back, but I do really want to learn more sign.
Jay: It is so good to hear that Norah is getting opportunities like this.
Jody: Yea, I agree. I am so glad you enjoyed it, Norah. Sheridan, did she get contact information for any of the new friends that she met? If so, one of the things mentioned in the Discussion Guide mentions using visual networking through apps such as FaceTime, Skype, Snapchat, things like that, to allow her to connect with some of those friends. Would that be an option?
Sheridan: Yes, I think we could absolutely look into that. What about ASL classes or options for her to learn ASL at school?
Jody: Good question. There are some ASL classes offered for kids around the metro area. I will get you information regarding those. Minnesota Hands & Voices are listed as a resource here in the Discussion Guide. They may know of other classes as well. They also host several events throughout the year that would give Norah a chance to interact with other deaf and hard of hearing peers as well as have exposure to ASL first hand. Another option we could check into is the Deaf Mentor Family Program and the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Role Model Program.
Sheridan: We've done some of those things, but that does sound like a great place to start. Is there anything that you could do at school to teach Norah ASL?
Jay: Can I ask for some clarification on why we want to address the need of learning ASL if Norah is currently performing at grade level and doing well academically?
Jody: Of course. As we know, students with a hearing loss often have unique situations that we don't see with other students with disabilities. I think over the past few years we have noticed that Norah has struggled in some of those areas. Norah, would you like to comment on times when you have felt it would have been helpful if you knew ASL?
Norah: Sure. Whenever we have assemblies at school, it can be really hard for me to hear what they are saying. I see the other kids who have an interpreter and wish I knew more sign language so I could understand what they were signing. The lunchroom and playground are also hard for me and I feel like I miss a lot.
Jody: Good examples. Thank you for sharing! So although Norah is doing well academically, we can see that there are other areas affecting her that are also important. If we feel that Norah may need to rely on ASL down the road and that it might be something that would provide her full access to communication that she doesn't have right now. And I think that's something that we should look into. I could include teaching Norah some ASL during our DHH time. Does that make sense Jay?
Jay: Yes, I see how it could definitely benefit her.
Jody: Sheridan, do you think that is something you would like us to try?
Sheridan: Yes, that would be great. I think she's really motivated about right now so it would be a great time to start and something she would use and benefit from in a lot of ways.
Jody: So, as a recap, we agree that Norah has needs in the areas of self-advocacy and reading social cues, as well as increased opportunities to interact with deaf and hard of hearing peers and adults and learn sign language. Does that sound right?
Sheridan: That sounds right.
Jody: Okay. I will draft her new IEP with the new goals and objectives, including what we talked about and including more ASL. When you get it, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I will also pass along information on additional opportunities to learn ASL and links to MN Hands & Voices.
Jody: Thank you all for coming.
[Scene fades to black.]