By Team IDK | April 15, 2014
Several fascinating articles on cochlear implants and literacy appeared in the recent world press, some of which are collated here for reading.
Early Child Literacy
Child literacy improves when a cochlear implant is accessed before age 3, to maximise a child’s residual hearing, and to address early vocabulary gaps with activities like parent-child talking interactions and book-reading.
The article on the link above, has one inconsistency – it says:
Children with hearing aids or cochlear implants… speak the same language they are learning to read, and can benefit from phonics. But cochlear implant surgery cannot be done earlier than 6 to 8 months, so deaf children have no exposure to language during that time.
Research shows that all babies regardless of hearing, instinctively lip-read from about 6 to 12 months, to learn the mouth-shapes for talking. This lip-reading (with baby hearing-aids before surgery) builds vital parent-infant bonding and prepares for language interactions once an implant is in place.
After age 3, a child’s brain is less receptive to spoken language.
This fact is confirmed by Anita Grover, the new CEO of UK-based spoken-language service provider Auditory-Verbal UK (AV-UK), who says:
“There is a very small window [with] plasticity in a young brain, which means… a real opportunity to maximise the development of listening and spoken language. If you get the early intervention right with the right technology and habilitation then you get the opportunity for deaf children to realise their potential. And that potential should be the same as a hearing child.”
Two Ears For Hearing
Hearing with both ears (as possible) benefits children and adults, since ears synergise as a pair, much like eyes do. In the UK, adults are advocating for the NHS to offer bilateral cochlear implants, while children in Australia with single-sided deafness are starting to get an implant in that ear:
For a child with hearing issues, words are the foundation for literacy – and the overriding evidence is that hearing words benefits literacy, whether the child derives their insights from the phonics or word-rhythm detected.
* Alice’s Ears: The Story About My Ears
By Team IDK | April 10, 2014
Audiologists have created a new app, ‘Early Ears’, for parents to test the hearing of the 20% of children who will have glue ear by the age of five, in addition to the 80% of children likely to experience glue ear by age ten.
Read: App tackles issue of ‘glue ear’ in children (video)
The app, available for devices with the iOS system (iPhone, iPad, iTouch), has clear pictures and professionally-recorded sounds for parents to monitor their childrens’ hearing levels through episodes of glue ear.
One benefit is that glue ear may mask underlying hearing issues or ear infections, which can impact a child’s speech and language development and social interaction with family, neighbours, peers and the local community.
By Team IDK | April 4, 2014
Children who wear digital hearing-aids consistently, have better speech and language abilities overall, due to having access to incidental sound.
Researchers at the University of Iowa proved this correlation in preschool-aged children with hearing-aids by measuring (1) the benefit the aids gave the children and (2) the duration for which the aids were worn, every day.
Two key findings the researchers noted:
“The… improved hearing [from] hearing aids was associated with better speech and language development in children”
Early speech-work, and positive life-paths in children are linked:
“Numerous studies have shown that speech and language development during the preschool years plays a vital role in the success of children in school and later life”
The study (Tomblin et al) published in JAMA Otolaryngology, in April 2014.
By Team IDK | April 2, 2014
Children who communicate by listening and talking can have strong literacy levels, thanks to extensive practice during their learning to talk process.
Stacey Lim, assistant professor of audiology at Central Michigan University, explains some literacy findings when children access cochlear implants with auditory verbal therapy (AVT, or learning to listen and talk):
A vital link Lim makes between a child receiving AVT, and literacy:
[With auditory-verbal therapy], the child with hearing loss has access to spoken language, thus is able to build the sound-to-letter mapping relationships used in decoding printed words.
The child’s access to spoken language translates into literacy:
For an auditory-verbal child, the ability to access spoken language allows them to access a wide range of vocabulary, which is necessary for understanding text-based information [particularly as the world becomes ever-more digital].
Lim also notes that “reading aloud to children is one of the best ways to build language and literacy skills,” particularly when children can hear their caregiver’s voice clearly with hearing-devices and/or a FM system.
By Team IDK | April 1, 2014
Today, IDK’s impact summary shows the trajectory most start-ups must take, in their quest to secure vital funds for projects they want to complete.
By Team IDK | March 26, 2014
Captioning service providers in the US are seeing more requests from the education, enterprise and government sectors as video captioning is outsourced to meet defined quality standards for mission-video strategy.
Entities which proactively caption mission-videos also discover the benefits of video-captioning. These include searchable transcripts in video footage, SEO ranking and visibility to nascent markets – while facilitating people with hearing issues and with English as an additional language.
* TeachNet Blog: Closed Captions In The Classroom
By Team IDK | March 24, 2014
Children and young people who wear hearing-aids and cochlear implants can use a new microphone, the Roger Pen, which cuts background noise when listening to music, stories or TV and pairs with mobile phones for calls.
Infants and Preschoolers
As babies with hearing-devices travel in buggies, the words their carer says to them, goes directly from the Roger pen into their hearing-aids, with little to no environmental sound disturbance from ambient noise nearby.
One user, Keira Ridley, her family – and the local nursery staff – use the lightweight Roger microphone pen when talking one-on-one or in groups at home or at nursery, for singing, and when talking while travelling by car.
Children Beyond Kindergarten
Slightly older children also benefit from the microphone when playing sport, at the park or during group work at school. Families recently interviewed by the Mumsnet website in the UK gave very positive reviews overall:
Finally, this video has user testimonials for further insights to how the microphone pen is used by children and young adults alike.
By Team IDK | March 19, 2014
There’s a new generation of born-deaf people growing up as a technically hard-of-hearing subgroup (with their hearing-devices) – who identify with hearing culture and must educate on daily assumptions made by others.
Mainstreamed with hearing-devices
Jillian Ash, writer of this piece, wore hearing-aids since infancy, and moved to a cochlear implant at age 9. She was mainstream-educated in Australia and is now a graduate social scientist and a PhD candidate in Social Planning and Development at the University of Queensland.
Team IDK is hugely familiar with the challenges Jillian outlines (hearing in background noise, batteries cutting at critical points in daily interactions, erroneously having sign language interpreters hired for events, and missing critical PA announcements for departing planes and trains).
Hard-of-hearing ‘with devices’
Looking at the rollout of newborn hearing tests in Ireland since 2011 and the strengthening of early-intervention services, our prediction is for Ireland, like other countries, to see a larger number of hearing-device wearers who introduce themselves as being [hard-of-hearing with their hearing-devices].
The Transforming Factors
This ‘CI Success Star’ article from New Zealand has the transforming factors in five vital points from parent Sym Gardiner, whose daughter has bilateral cochlear implants. New Zealand’s government does not fund bilateral implants (yet), but all the other necessary support-components are in place.
Importantly, Gardiner notes:
A child that has these five factors of success will likely need no or very little support at school. A child that hasn’t had these factors is likely to cost the government an additional NZ $400,000 over the course of their primary and secondary schooling in support. And that does not take into account the cost to the family.
By Team IDK | March 13, 2014
Time was, when a child with hearing issues was asked what they wanted to do after finishing education, their answer might be indistinct. With cochlear implants, this has all changed. Today’s children can have clearly defined life goals, and know what careers they’d like to move into, when they’re adults.
Educating The Public
Families are working to educate the public on the ‘new’ abilities of children like Vivek – and like Eloise, on the link below. Both have bilateral cochlear implants and sing, watch TV, play sports, just like other children their age.
Both also receive auditory-verbal therapy (AVT) from the Hear & Say centre in Australia, which uses blended outreach (a mix of online and offline sessions) to deliver its services to families wherever they may be located.
By Team IDK | March 5, 2014
IDK’s June 2013 presentation at the annual conference of the UK’s National Association of Disability Practitioners was published in the Conference Edition of the Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher education.
The first line of the journal’s piece (by Caroline Carswell) reads:
Fearing for their disabled child’s social, emotional and physical well-being, parents can go to great lengths to protect their child and, in the process, unwittingly limit their potential.
A need to value role models with disability in today’s society, is highlighted. Creators of inclusive settings like parents, educators, policymakers and tech firms, can tap these role models’ lived experience for insights to learning, studying and working with disability, using tech tools as a critical equaliser.
* Deaf Students and Inclusive Education (Disability Law News, March 2010)