On a daily basis, having to teach only six students is good news for most teachers. One lady instructor from the hearing impaired program sees this in a different way. All six of her students who are aged from 5 to 15 belong to a program set up by the local cooperative for special education and funded by a three year federal grant. The coop serves 19 school districts with various classes in learning disabilities.
Of the six students, two are classified as hard of hearing and four are profoundly deaf. With a decibel loss of 60 or less, the hard of hearing can function in regular classrooms but require special assistance. Those classified as profoundly deaf have a loss of 90 decibels or more. When a person is experiencing this, special learning methods are required. Taking into consideration their hearing needs and capabilities the students from the hearing impaired class use hearing aids.
In order to help the students hear what the teacher is saying then a special audio device is used. This particular phonic ear system works with 83 radio frequencies. An instrument much like a microphone is used by the teacher which conveys speech to a receiver worn by the children. Through the different frequencies, the teacher has the ability to talk to the class as a group or to one child at a time.
It has been said by the teacher that the facility traveled to by the students for 11/2 hours is quite spectacular. Much expense has been encountered with everything being specially crafted. If the complete kitchen set up is not enough, the carpeted room also contains audio equipment and visual aids. What they do with the kitchen is use to for recipe interpretations to teach language to the children.
Language is at the center of everything they do because the teacher says that it is the most important thing for the students. 10,000 times is the number of repetitions needed for a word to be retained. This may seem boring to some people, but it's absolutely necessary in this case. The sense of sight is necessary for the hard of hearing to learn about words that describe objects. There are words which have little meaning though like time, tomorrow, yesterday, and today.
The teaching methods the teacher uses are varied and many. Much trust is given to a learning experience that applies total communication where signs and speech are used together. Lip movement can be used to understand what another is saying and lip reading is part of the instruction given. When it comes to teaching methods, oral instruction is prioritized and students need to communicate verbally. These children have to live in our society and they will be better accepted if they can communicate the way others do.
One of the more curious methods used by the teacher is the tactile method, or perception through the sense of touch. For a student to comprehend the g, s, or th sounds, it is necessary to touch the throat or feel the tongue of the teacher. She has been used to having a student's hand in her mouth from the moment she steps into the classroom. When it comes to subjects, they have spelling, math, grammar, and social studies. Upon entering a regular school system, a student may take up other classes such as speech, gym, auto mechanics, music, typing, and home economics. Over 18 years old students are no longer able to attend the class.
Her motivation for helping the hearing impaired may come with much speculation. Considering her career choice, she does not hesitate to answer. It happened when she was five, they found out that she had a hearing problem. No cartilage was in her ears and her eustachian tubes were closed at birth. Her hearing abilities and those of the people she helped were regained through corrective surgery. As early as the fifth grade she already knew that she will be helping out children with hearing problems.
From an Illinois college is where she got her special education degree. A certificate in learning disabilities and degrees in deaf and elementary education are her achievements when she attended a university in Florida soon after. Prior to her arrival in Southwest Kansas two years back, she was a teacher in Fort Lauderdale in a school for the deaf. With the phonic ear system she uses, her students have no alternative but to listen to what she says because the sound is relayed into their ears and this assists her in the grueling tasks she performs every day.
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