New Technologies for Students Who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing:

A CDE Grant Studies the Possibilities

By Leeanne Seaver

It started as a question, grew into a theory, and became the subject of a study funded by the Colorado Department of Education and Denver Public Schools beginning in the fall of 1998 and continuing through this school year. The idea was that deaf and hard of hearing students could have enriched potential and more successful experiences in school through the use of newly available technologies.

  1. The focus of the study is three-fold:
  2. Promoting and enhancing both academic and social opportunities in mainstream settings for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  3. Identifying and implementing appropriate supports and services for students using cochlear implant technology.

Sharing what is learned with educators statewide for the benefit of all students and teachers.

Since there was a comparatively large population of mainstreamed deaf students, as well as students using cochlear implant technology at Carson Elementary School and Hill Middle School , the study has centered its efforts on students in these Denver Public Schools. But what is being learned there has been and continues to be presented in training opportunities available to teachers of the deaf, educational audiologists, general educators, school psychologists, speech/language therapists, and others across Colorado .

At a recent two-day workshop conducted August 3rd & 4th in Denver , almost 100 professionals from all over the state participated in an intensive training and development session. The response was overwhelming and positive. Comments from participants had common themes: "Thank you for doing this... I really needed the information," and "I will be having a student this fall with a cochlear implant and now I feel like I can better address her needs."

Promoting social and academic opportunities is being pursued with another new technology. This application is a state-of-the-art assistive technology called 'Computer Assisted Notetaking" or CAN. This school year, Hill Middle School 6th graders with hearing loss will enjoy full access to instruction in selected mainstream settings through the use of this real-time captioning system. An instructor or paraprofessional typing into a laptop computer that is hooked up to a high-luminosity portable projector will allow not only deaf students, but hearing kids, too, to follow the instruction on an oversized screen or whiteboard at the front of the room. Hard copies of the notes will be edited into functional language-masters and provided to students at the end of the day for study at home.

The advantage of CAN in this setting is that students who are deaf/hard of hearing, can sit anywhere in the classroom while maintaining full access to communication. It's a less restrictive, more natural learning environment, and one that's proven to be successful for deaf students in two other Colorado school districts using this technology.

The New Technologies grant was applied for by a collaborative taskforce, which included representatives from education and industry, as well as parents. Funding came not only from CDE, but from Cochlear Corporation, the Lion's Club of Denver, the Arapahoe Sertoma Club, and from direct donations of money by participating parents and donations of time by participating teachers. Originally conceived of as a three year study, the agenda of the grant projects ambitious goals for disseminating the information it's gathering during 2000-01.

To make sure you get in the loop for receiving information through this grant please contact Cheryl Johnson @ the Colorado Department of Education.

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