supporting inclusive education

Teaching Assistants Can Be A ‘False Economy’

By Team IDK | April 22, 2014

Parallels exist in parent attitudes when support hours are sought for children with additional educational needs, at mainstream schools in the UK and Ireland. This report from The Guardian defines many of the challenges:

Relying on TA support for SEN students is false economy

In the words of Rob Webster, a research associate in the UK:

Parents tend to enter the statementing process hoping to secure one-to-one support from a teaching assistant (TA), particularly when their child’s needs can be met in a mainstream school. [Instead], we must help parents understand that relying too much on teaching assistants prevents special educational needs students getting enough quality time with their teacher.

Avoiding Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness raises its head in this discussion – as mentioned in past posts on this site. There’s also the issue of over-parented students annoying teachers. What about the students who want to be independent outside of their homes, and to manage their own lives, as they wish?

In summer 2013, US student Megan Bomgaars made a powerful video, “DON’T LIMIT ME!” – for educators to have high expectations for differently-abled students in their classrooms, and not to apply perceived limits.

Technology Is Altering Teacher Performance

Meantime, at eight primary schools in disadvantaged parts of the UK, live classroom transcripts streamed to pupils’ tablets allow teacher performance to be assessed at different levels. With the transcripts, students, staff, parents and principals can monitor and give feedback on teaching impact.

Aussie technology allows rating of UK teacher efficiency

A new era for ‘Rate My Teacher’ websites may result if these realtime live classroom captions reach all schools, as service provider AI-Media aims to see happening in the UK and in Australia, the founders’ home country.

More Reading

* Learned Helplessness – When Less Support Is More

* When Over-Parented Students Irritate Teachers

* “Don’t Limit Me!” Megan Bomgaars Tells Teachers

Classroom Captions Entrenching In The UK And US

Australia To Take Classroom Captioning ‘National’

Cornell STEM Captioning May Reach High Schools

* TeachNet Blog: Closed Captions In The Classroom

Deaf Teen Open To IT Work After Captions Support

* ‘Disability Law News’ Blog Cites IDK’s Advocacy

California Student Seeks Captions Instead of FM

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Making Speeches Is Viable For Born-Deaf Children

By Team IDK | April 21, 2014

Ten years ago, one family in Perth (Australia), was worried their young son Isaac, might never talk. He’s since proved himself as a natural orator.

Subtitles can be activated on the video by clicking the ‘CC’ button. Enjoy!

More Reading

* Six-Year-Old Shares His Goal Of Being A Scientist

* Commercial Aviation Lures A Pilot With Cochlear Implants

* Video: School Challenges Benefit From Teamwork

* Smartphones May Power Wireless Hearing Devices

* New Windows On The World – Sunday Business Post

* Long-Term Benefits Of Smarter Cochlear Implants

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When Children Speak – And Read The Same Words

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.

NY Times: A Son’s Deafness Prompts A Scientific Journey

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.”

Read: Bionic Ears: let’s hear it for cochlear implants

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:

Two ears are best – implants for unilateral hearing issues

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.

Toddler appreciates implant for single-sided deafness

More Reading

* How Listening And Speaking Lifts Literacy Levels

Hear More Words, Speak More Words – Literally

Baby is ‘youngest’ in UK to get cochlear implants

Ten-month-old hears mother for first time, with implants

Blackwater toddler’s Hear and Say

Texas Toddler Hears For The First Time With Implants

Two sisters in Australia have implants activated same day

* Implants have changed Eloise’s world

* Alice’s Ears: The Story About My Ears

* Welcome To… Lichtenstein (not Holland)

* Implants power Izaac’s speech

* Researchers seek to improve hearing-devices

Students strive to overcome challenges at school

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Audiologist-Built Early Ears App For Hearing Tests

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.

Early Ear app is modern version of McCormick Toy Test

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.

More Reading

* Children with unilateral hearing may struggle in school

‘Hear More Words, Speak More Words’ – Literally

* Survey Profiles Verbal Deaf Children In The UK

* Roger Pen Clarifies Spoken Language For Children

* Classroom Hearing-Technology Options And Tips

School Acoustics – By An Educational Audiologist

Good Acoustics In Schools Make Learning Easier

Advice On FM Systems ‘Versus’ Soundfields

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‘Hear More Words, Speak More Words’ – Literally

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.

Hearing-Aids Benefit Childrens’ Speech & Language Skills

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.

More Reading

* Hearing-Aids (And Parents) Boost Childrens’ Vocabulary

Parents’ Essential Role In Language Development

Hearing-Aids + Learning = Education

Teaching Deaf Children To Listen And Speak

* Hearing Devices Double As Tiny Media Devices

* Roger Pen Clarifies Spoken Language For Children

* How Listening And Speaking Lifts Literacy Levels

* Essential Hearing-Aid Tips For Parents & Families

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How Listening And Speaking Lifts Literacy Levels

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):

Read: Literacy and Auditory-Verbal Practice

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.

More Reading

* Does Lip-Reading Benefit Infant Reading Ability?

* New Study: Babies Learn Language By Lip-Reading

* Listening & Speaking: A Link To Reading/Writing?

Talk To Your Baby For A Solid Early-Learning Basis

Early Interaction With Babies For Communication

Parents’ Essential Role In Language Development

Children “Are Made Smart From Conversations”

Childrens’ Chatter: Interactions From 18 to 24 Months

Hearing Kids Gain In Preschool’s Reverse-Inclusion

Creche Staff And Parents Build Kids’ Talking Skills

One Language May Be Best For Children With Implants

* Listening And Speaking – A Refocus For Teachers

* Reading Survey Profiles Verbal Deaf Children In The UK

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IDK’s Start-Up Story On ‘Small Business Can’ Site

By Team IDK | April 1, 2014

IDK’s start-up story is on the Ulster Bank-sponsored ‘Small Business Can‘ website, in the seventh anniversary month of seeking seed capital for the idea that became the website.

Read: Start-Up Story: Irish Deaf Kids Limited (IDK)

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.

More Reading

* Media page on

* IDK shares insights with ‘All About Business’

* Being Deaf: Some Workplace Challenges Identified

* Taking A Mainstream Route To Self-Employment

* Video: What IDK Is About, And What We Do

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Getting Your Online Videos Captioned For Quality

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.

Read: Buyer’s guide: Captioning Serices For Online Video

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.

More Reading

* Video Captions – ‘The Missing Piece In Education’

* TeachNet Blog: Closed Captions In The Classroom

* Captions In The Classroom Boost Literacy Skills

Captions And Subtitles ‘Help Everybody To Learn’

* Video Platforms Advise Creators To Self-Caption

Webinar: The Why And How of Online Captions

Frameweld Webinar: User Experience of Captions

Educators Optimising Universal Literacy Software

Knowmia, Panopto and Microcone In The Classroom

Video Captioning Requires Automated Work-Flows

Crowd-Computing: New Solutions For Captions

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Roger Pen Clarifies Spoken Language For Children

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.

Read: Microphone pen helps Sunderland youngster hear

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:

Mumsnet: The Roger pen and hearing issues in children

Finally, this video has user testimonials for further insights to how the microphone pen is used by children and young adults alike.

More Reading

* Fatigue In Schoolchildren With Hearing Issues

* Classroom Hearing-Technology Options And Tips

School Acoustics – By An Educational Audiologist

Good Acoustics In Schools Make Learning Easier

Advice On FM Systems ‘Versus’ Soundfields

California Student Seeks Real-Time Captions Instead of FM

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Identifying As Hard-Of-Hearing, ‘With Devices’

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.

Read: Physically deaf, Culturally hearing

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.

Read: Editorial – The CI Success Star

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.

More Reading

* HSE To Fund Bilateral Cochlear Implants In Ireland

* A Sound Case For Bilateral Cochlear Implants

Early Implants Best For Baby’s Language Progress

Bilateral Cochlear Implants: Hearing With Two Ears

Newborn Hearing Test Follow-Up ‘Has Shortfalls’

What Are The ‘Different Ways Of Being Deaf’?

How Policy Can Lag The Real Grassroots Reality

How New Zealand’s Hearing Tests Lead To Early Intervention

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