Communication Considerations A to Z™

PreSchool Programs

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1. What are the communication considerations for preschool programming?

All children need full access to all communication in their homes, community, and special settings. For young children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), this need is magnified by the “Swiss cheese” effect that emanates from their hearing loss. That is, without careful planning, children at best hear/see bits and pieces of words and phrases; at worst, they hear/see very little that is meaningful to them. As a result of these inconsistencies, their receptive and expressive language may be full of holes, like Swiss cheese. Since young children’s language skills are not fully developed, they are unable to fill in words and other information that are not heard/seen, missed or are left out. Thus, targeted and purposeful intervention is required to provide experiences that build language and a knowledge foundation.

Language access includes two critical elements; first, developing the language skills to understand and process everything going on around the child, and second, having full access to all communication in these various environments, again so that there can be full participation in learning and conversation in the same way as their hearing peers.

2. What issues are at the forefront of preschool education for students who are DHH?

Every effort must be made to avoid any gap between a child’s age and their language and other developmental levels. The expectation for children who have had early identification and appropriate early intervention services is for normal or near-normal language and cognitive development. This developmental trajectory must continue at the same rate as typical hearing children to avoid gaps that leave children behind. These gaps start an adverse cycle that impacts comprehension, attention, general knowledge, behavior and ultimately academic performance. When transitioning from early intervention programs that are parent/family focused to preschool settings that are child focused, there are several considerations for parents and the preschool professionals to discuss when developing the IEP. Some of these are:

3. What questions should every parent and professional ask about preschool education for DHH?

4. Where can I go for more information on education?

Author: Cheryl DeConde Johnson was formerly a special education consultant with the Colorado Department of Education where she was responsible for deaf education and audiology services. Prior to her state service, she spent 22 years in the Greeley, Colorado school district as an educational audiologist and program administrator for the deaf and hard of hearing program. Cheryl is currently providing technical assistance, training, and program evaluations via her consulting practice, The ADVantage (Audiology, Deaf education, Vantage), as well as continues her research, writing, and teaching at several graduate programs in deaf education and audiology. She also serves as the President of the Hands and Voices Board of Directors. Cheryl has a grown daughter who describes herself as sometimes deaf, sometimes hard of hearing.



* Communication Considerations A to Z™ is a series from Hands & Voices that's designed to help families and the professionals working with them access information and further resources to assist them in raising and educating children who are deaf or hard of hearing.  We've recruited some of the best in the business to share their insights on the many diverse considerations that play into communication modes & methods, and so many other variables that are part of informed decision making.  We hope you find the time to read them all!

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