By caroline | July 22, 2014
Yesterday’s Irish Examiner report, ‘Deaf children held back by fund gap‘, raises pertinent points about service provision, particularly when eligible children in Ireland are to receive bilateral cochlear implants from this week.
Ireland’s Historic Lack Of Services
Firstly, the historic lack of public hearing and speech services for deaf children in Ireland, impacts families who discover their child’s hearing issues between birth to age five – when spoken language acquisition is critical.
As the Examiner article notes, the former teacher-training course at UCD for deaf education, was also cut due to lack of funding. Blended distance-courses at Birmingham and Manchester Universities however make training accessible to mainstream teachers in the Republic and beyond.
To cross-train specialist teachers for oral deaf education, proactive colleges in the US and Middle East are connecting their teacher-training, speech and audiology faculties to deliver modular courses in these core disciplines. We can expect to see more campuses forming similar collaborations, over time.
Progress In Ireland Since UNHS Rollout
Major progress is seen in Ireland since 2011 when newborn hearing tests began rolling out, and reached all regions in 2013. Some concern exists around care pathways for families referred onward after a suspect hearing test result – but new telepractice models can be emulated here in Ireland.
Hearing and speech are intricately related. A small gap in an infant’s hearing levels, can adversely impact their early language acquisition with correlated vital building blocks for their self-expression and articulation in later years.
Soaking Preschoolers In Spoken Language
This is where specialist verbal preschools for infants with hearing difficulties add value, as seen in the US and in New Zealand. Parents, families and siblings shape a child’s spoken language progress before preschool stage, but a formal early-years education can structure a child’s latent knowledge.
Early intervention for infants with hearing issues should ideally happen in the family home, to prepare a child to attend a specialist verbal or mainstream preschool for focused language development amid their hearing peers.
Raising Educational Standards
Skilled staff at quality daycare centres will also create spoken language-learning plans to accompany specific toys as a guide for colleagues, parents and trainees to learn from – and to use with all the children in their care.
Ongoing investment is needed to reach this standard of education to equip families, early-years educators, creche and preschool providers to work with children who are considered typical, who receive directed teaching for language intervention, or who have statemented additional needs.
Again, this is where collaboration by audiologists, occupational therapists, speech teachers and educators genuinely optimises education systems.
By Team IDK | July 16, 2014
Today’s smartphones and tablet PCs make self-employment a reality for people like Janice Fucci, who hears and lip-reads with a cochlear implant. Now aged 60, Fucci runs a small business using text messages, calendar apps and Facebook to reach her clients, some sourced from past salon jobs.
Roadmaps And Goal Setting
Strategies used by Fucci, directly fit the Irish government’s plan for people with disability to enter mainstream and supported employment in a 10-year plan. This social reform must introduce digital tools and skills to trainees and jobseekers with disability, to level their path to employment and workplaces.
Educators working with today’s young people need also familiarity with these digital tools to raise expectations for graduates and trainees to move into entrepreneurship and PAYE employment when their education finishes.
Time To Reform Disability Services
Most people of working age who have a disability, want to work. This fact was noted in the Irish Times broadsheet newspaper by Simon Harris, a TD (public representative) who clearly articulates the Irish solution to this issue:
Traditionally, our approach to disability services in this country has been to write a cheque [to service providers], but never to examine if the systems and structures are in place to empower people with disabilities to live the lives they want to live.
‘Block-Funding Grants’ Open To Risks
We need to introduce individualised budgets [for people with disability]. This reform will be essential if we want to move away from the days of throwing money at disability services rather than reforming them.
Empowering People With Digital Tools
Public understanding of what empowered people with disability can achieve is a critical part of this reform. Awareness is also needed of the diversity in specific disabilities (namely, one size does not fit all, in education, training or workplaces) – and of digital skills and tools that can facilitate this inclusion.
As Heather Artinian says in this TEDx video, “Most of the time, all they see is the deaf, they don’t see the Heather.” Sometimes a past reality is seen by the media and public, instead of today’s empowered people who actively use hearing-devices and digital tools. They deserve to be seen, too.
By Team IDK | July 11, 2014
The Educational Audiology Association (EAA) in the US is hosting a webinar on July 22, for which families and professionals may like to register.
Educational audiologists maintain school acoustic quality and students’ cochlear implants, hearing aids and FM systems during the day. Based on district policy, aural rehabilitation (sound practice) may be in their remit.
Presented by Donna Fisher Smiley, Ph.D., CCC-A, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the webinar reviews how school-based audiology services can be delivered in different ways – on a contract or a retention basis.
Registration Deadline is Friday, July 18, 2014.
Registration Fees: $25 for EAA Members or $39 for Non-Members.
Meantime, meet a US-based educational audiologist with hearing issues, who actively mentors the young people she works with.
By Team IDK | July 7, 2014
Using telepractice systems to remotely manage and tune cochlear implants saves vital time for child and adult wearers in terms of travel, hours missed at school or work and quality time spent with friends and family members.
One family with a six-year-old wearer of a cochlear implant, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer how teletherapy saves travel miles and commute times.
With the average cochlear implant wearer travelling to their mapping-centre for tuning, up to eight times in the first year after receiving their device, the benefits of remote mapping are clear. Extra trips may be needed for speech and other services, which are also suited to delivery via telepractice.
Telepractice in Cochlear Implant Admin? (scroll on page)
An emerging area, telehealth can be used to give newborns in rural areas remote audiology follow-up services, for remote language teaching from toddler stage upward, and even for family speech therapy sessions.
By Team IDK | July 4, 2014
Closed captions on TV shows in the US, are regulated by new FCC (Federal Communications Commission) controls since March 2014. The four critical elements are: accuracy, synchronization, completeness, and placement.
The accuracy clause means TV stations must give captioners speakers’ names in advance, a challenge since captioners are not paid for prep time. Tips for synchronising content include not using manual ‘hold’ buttons before captions are broadcast, and increasing text volume for captions.
New jobs for realtime captioners are predicted with the completeness clause making teleprompters redundant. Placements need greater collaboration by stations and captioners, with on-screen content visibility being necessary.
Gary Robson, writer of this piece, spoke at TEDxBozeman, on this topic.
By Team IDK | June 30, 2014
The first-ever book for families, audiologists and teachers working to teach second, spoken languages to children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, is now available. Its author, Michael Douglas, a certified auditory-verbal therapist (AVT), was based at the University of Houston from 2010 to 2012.
Some people are challenged by the concept of deaf children with two spoken languages – however, today’s digital hearing-devices give more children unprecedented access to spoken sounds and to spoken languages. In China, tonal Chinese dialects are similarly spoken by children with hearing-devices.
By Team IDK | June 29, 2014
School districts in the US are challenged by students’ new technologies, such as cochlear implants and CART (communication access in real time) captions. In fact, a few lawsuits have occurred around provision of CART in classrooms, with another case just reaching the headlines:
Each story has two sides, however the family maintains that the specific school district could have done more for the student, and did not provide full-time CART support, which would have made a real difference in classes.
From the perspective of team IDK, realtime captioning needs automation sooner than later, with the growing number of deaf and hard-of-hearing students using spoken language as their primary learning mode – plus the infiltration of digital tools and mobile devices into classrooms.
By Team IDK | June 22, 2014
Open-source video platform, Kaltura, has launched a new accessibility suite with captioning, transcription and translation services, in-video and cross-library search, deep-linking options, metadata and keyword extraction.
REACH, designed for language-learners and people with hearing issues, enables educational entities, workplaces, media firms and service providers to extend video services while meeting compliance and access standards.
Captions (subtitles) are a confirmed educational tool for the digital-hearing and language-learning populations, and benefit everyone in a learning session. One industry standard to note is ADA/508 compliance, to give video-access to these populations in educational and training contexts.
By Team IDK | June 13, 2014
The ETBI.ie Summer newsletter has an article from IDK’s Caroline Carswell, describing how ‘ proactive role models with disability are needed across the EU as advisors to the government, the semi-state and private sectors. ’
Too often, parent instinct is to overprotect children with disability, meaning positive role models are needed as ‘ visible advocates, employers, trainers and mentors to the education, training and employment services. ‘
Lived Experience Counts
With lived experience of the issues, plus knowledge of digital tools for access, these role models are vital stakeholders in policy making and their experience should not be omitted when framework documents are drafted.
By Team IDK | June 10, 2014
Media work traditionally was challenging when people had hearing issues – but digital hearing devices have changed this. Essentially, the children in this video use new media tools and presentation skills as their hearing peers do.
— Caroline Carswell (@irishdeafkids) June 9, 2014
Digital media is a double-edge sword when access is not built into teaching or production processes – yet huge possibilities exist for today’s children, who have portable access toolkits in their own smartphones and tablets.