By Team IDK | December 8, 2013
The Visiting Teacher Service in Ireland is being reviewed by the Department of Education in the context of pupils’ changed needs and new technologies.
January 20th, 2014 is YOUR deadline to feed back on your experiences of the Visiting Teacher Service (VTS) in Ireland, for this review.
Dept of Education: Review of the Visiting Teacher Service
Review and Public Submissions
Reading the review’s context is advised and submissions can be sent by:
- parents/carers of children currently supported by the VTS
- children with hearing issues, currently supported by the VTS
- other interested parties (support entities, educators, school staff)
Please share this detail with families who may not be on Facebook, or who might otherwise not hear of this public submission opportunity.
By Team IDK | December 5, 2013
Children who receive cochlear implants can progress for several years afterward, a longitudinal research project by Penn State University shows. In a milestone multi-year study, the researchers found students’ peer relationships were impacted by teacher and peer acceptance within a school.
“We didn’t actually know how implanted children would do as young adults in mainstream schools,” a lead researcher, Daniela Martin, said. “The message in [our] years of research … is that the children are doing very well overall.”
Better Acoustic Coding
Cochlear implants aren’t without limits, however. Researchers at Germany’s Technische Universitaete Muenchen (TUM) are working to improve acoustic coding for cochlear implants to give sharper hearing to children and adults:
Smarter Digital Hearing
Binaural (two-ear) hearing is the most natural context for humans, but cochlear implant technology is becoming smarter all the time:
Research models of the human auditory system are built – but the future is very bright for CI wearers as research insights combine with better acoustic technology and new sound-scanning abilities in the latest cochlear implants.
Best of all, the Smart Sound IQ sound-management system in the latest device by Cochlear Inc, intelligently manages environmental sounds, cutting the need for CI wearers to physically alter settings on the remote assistant.
By Team IDK | December 2, 2013
School environments are famously tricky for children to hear what’s being said in class, by their teachers and classmates. And it’s not just children with hearing devices who struggle in a classroom: pupils with colds and allergies or English as another language, also benefit from positive school acoustics.
Creating An Environment For Incidental Hearing
Optimising student hearing in classrooms maxes their chances of learning by listening. FM and soundfields were created to reduce or remove background noise and to lift-clarify the teacher’s voice for the student to hear in class, while also presenting their own voice for self-regulation of their speech.
Read >> Childrens’ Incidental Hearing
Children With Hearing-Aids
Getting your child, their teachers and school admin on board with hearing-device and battery management is a great step toward consistent wearing of hearing-aids and maximised potential to pick up acoustic detail at school.
Read >> Using Hearing-Aids In School
Benefits From FM Systems In Class
Like all technology, hearing-devices can be introduced to students as a cool item that interface to iPods, laptops, smartphones and mobile devices. Two great books, Samantha’s Fun FM and Hearing-Aid Book, and Oliver Gets FM, explain how FM benefits its users and the technology that’s involved.
Soundfields Need Acoustically Treated Rooms
Positive classroom acoustics are advised for soundfields to work at optimal level. For this outcome, the built environment needs acoustic treatment for FM and soundfield systems (if used) to be ‘layered’ with the student’s personal hearing technology and tablet devices they bring to school.
By Team IDK | November 27, 2013
People with hearing issues synergise their sight and hearing senses to detect and assimilate environmental information, according to research by Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition (CERCO, CNRS/Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier), with the ENT department at Toulouse’s Hôpital Purpan.
Lip-Readers See And Hear Sound
Lip-readers already harmonise their hearing and seeing senses to interpret information relayed to them – a point that is validated by this research. A person whose hearing is fading for instance, may unknowingly start to hand-over to lip-reading during conversations, particularly in noisy settings.
Notably, the “vision” area of the brain, is most receptive to sound in the six months after a cochlear implant is received. Again, this confirms lip-reading to have a positive role for people learning to hear with a cochlear implant.
Babies And Adults New To Implants
Remember, all babies lip-read from 6 to 12 months old, to see word-forms as they learn to talk. Accordingly, a baby with hearing issues may lip-read with an implant if they get one (or two). Facing the child when talking in the six months after an implant, could unlock better outcomes for everyone.
Adults are a different example, remembering some will be born-deaf, with others acquiring hearing issues during their lifetime. Lipreading again, can be a shared factor, and for born-deaf people, may be critical in learning to interpret the new speech sounds received from the implant-processor.
By Team IDK | November 21, 2013
Many parents ask the IDK team, “what is AVT”? In short, Auditory-Verbal Therapy is an approach that teaches deaf children to listen and talk by using their residual hearing with consistent wearing of digital hearing-devices.
Knowing that almost all deaf babies and children have usable hearing, AVT optimises their latent listening skills, which leads into talking (in most cases). This video explains more about AVT, which actually is not a new approach.
Families Explain Auditory-Verbal Therapy:
With today’s digital hearing-devices and early detection, babies and children have the best-yet access to sound, particularly if their parents, carers and teachers provide a spoken-language-rich setting with a wide range of words.
As this preschool example shows, hearing children gain in a language-rich environment. Proof that inclusive education brings universal benefits.
* AVT From Its Early Beginnings (Hear and Say Centre, Australia)
By Team IDK | November 19, 2013
IDK has forty corporate-size Christmas cards in two designs, available immediately as a bulk purchase. These are quality 4-page A5 cards printed both sides, on 350 gsm silk, with one envelope for each card. A “Season’s Greetings” message inside each card accommodates all tastes and contexts.
Get in touch if you have queries, as the last few packs are remaining!
* Gift Suggestion: “A Birthday For Ben” – A Story About Deafness
By Team IDK | November 18, 2013
Childrens’ language skills benefit from responsive interactions with childhood educators and parents, according to research from the University of North Carolina’s Frank Porter Graham (FPG) child development institute.
These points are valid for babies and toddlers whose hearing issues are detected near birth, and who receive digital hearing devices as a priority.
Families Have More Options Today
Today’s families have multiple communication options and digital hearing-devices to their benefit, making chat-with-baby programmes like this totally viable. Try this list of ten tips, you might surprise yourself and the family.
The FPG team notes, “interactions children have with adults influence early brain growth and learning, giving early educators a crucial opportunity to provide children with interactions [for] language and communication”.
Importantly for parents and caregivers (their childrens’ first teachers), “when teachers ask children questions, respond to their vocalizations, and engage in other positive talk, children learn and use more words.”
Childrens’ early vocabulary is a vital predictor of their later reading ability in primary and middle-school. Accordingly, researchers highlight the need for parents and primary caregivers to interact with children in a responsive and interactive way, to enable new words to be learned in a natural process.
By Team IDK | November 14, 2013
Since April 2013, a family in Cork has driven 45 minutes each way to and from school, only for the student to receive one hour of schooling per day.
After a cochlear implant 18 months ago, the student is now verbal and the hearing-unit at his school is no longer able to support his altered needs.
Seven months on, the story is similar. According to the family, the fault is not with the State, but with the school, which should be working as a team.
School Stories Can Be Positive, Too
Positive school-stories resulted to this story on IDK’s Facebook page:
Everyone’s hearing-story varies, and many children in today’s education system were late identified, with the knock-on language delay and need to play constant learning catch-up with their peers in mainstream classes.
With newborn hearing tests now in Ireland, today’s infants are benefiting from early detection and digital hearing-devices – plus parent/teacher insights to hearing issues – which will improve the childrens’ life prospects.
In this particular student case, some primary factors are notable:
- Transition from a class of 6, to a class of 30, needs advance planning.
- The student has no interest in using Irish Sign Language – he is verbal.
- The school’s staff is not yet trained to work with verbal deaf children.
- Contact time with ‘new’ classmates is needed in any transition period.
Education Provision (And Training) Lags Policy
Provision is still needed for deaf children to have planned transitions from hearing-units (as relevant), into mainstream classes when they are late to cochlear implants. Certain children need to hear spoken words at school, once they have their implant and learn to hear spoken language structures.
Teacher-training in Ireland must improve, as the Examiner noted – in the US, the Department of Education is upskilling teachers to work with deaf children who communicate by the listening-and-speaking (verbal) method.
In Ireland, a rural school with small classes might suit ‘transitioning’ children better than a large mainstream class in a city school. Again, this solution depends on a family’s location and the ability (willingness) of the rural school to accept the pupil, and to arrange teaching supports as needed.
By Team IDK | November 11, 2013
Three educators are optimising a software product for students with hearing issues to access audio-visual content, to achieve a universal design for a concurrent, mainstream student pool that was not envisaged at the outset.
The product, AvenueDHH, gives educators a standardised way to measure student literacy while allowing for variables in the abilities being tested. Student progress is tracked with review and monitoring tools in the online assessment software, which has student and teacher-specific interfaces.
Woord Vor Woord (Word For Word) Software
Earlier this year, Karien Coppens, a researcher in the Netherlands, devised an online vocabulary test to accurately measure the ability of deaf students. Notably, her research found children who had digital hearing-devices and sustained parent support, did better in online vocabulary and literacy tests.
Hearing – and reading ability – appear to be linked, with numerous studies showing parent interactions, audibility (hearing) and home exposure to new vocabulary to be recurring factors in a child’s very early literacy skills.
With child digital literacy being all-important, software tools and platforms are evolving to acknowledge that some deaf children will prefer verbal communication, with others favouring more visual (signed) interactions.
One size does not fit all, when meeting the needs of students who’re deaf or hard-of-hearing, but as the creators of AvenueDHH know, universal design theories can be extrapolated to achieve a product for a mainstream market.
As Karien Coppens will testify, reusing software code is a positive first step.
By Team IDK | November 7, 2013
Ireland’s annual ‘Better Together‘ campaign allows third-sector entities and initiatives to highlight their social-impact on a portal website that engages the public to understand and support the vital work these organisations do.
IDK has submitted a two-minute version of the six-minute video won in a CSR give-away in 2012 by Tailored Films. The production team very kindly shortened the video just for this contest, for which we are hugely grateful.
Voting daily boosts IDK’s chances of a win, and we need every bit of help!
Please vote for IDK here >> Ability Personified – “Better Together”
This year’s Better Together video contest with categories for non-profits, young people and businesses to showcase their local community work, is enhanced by a Charity Hero award, which is open to public nominations.