A friend recently shared with me that his supervisor accused him of making his deaf/hh students "too disabled”. When I asked him to explain this, he did his best. He stated that the supervisor said the regular ed teachers in the district felt his students were capable of so much more, but that he often used the children's hearing loss as an excuse to get the student out of work or to explain away the student's laziness. I know my friend well and he is a very dedicated teacher. He empowers children, helps them accept their hearing loss, and teaches them that they need to work with and around the loss to be the best they can be. This did not match with what he was being accused of.
He shared that he told his supervisor that in fact, it was quite the opposite reality. He stated that many regular ed teachers saw his students as lazy or unwilling to try. They stated that they were slow and unmotivated. They stated that the students were often bored or uninvolved. My friend explained that this is when he would remind the regular ed teacher about the child's hearing loss. Often, kids with Central Auditory Processing Disorder or mild/moderate hearing loss present like kids with Attention Deficit Disorder: unorganized, lost, uninvolved, etc. This is not a choice the child is making- this is a result of how their hearing loss affects their learning. The deaf/hh teacher spent many sessions explaining to the regular ed teachers how and why the child acts/performs and presents as s/he does. After a few well thought out examples, the teachers "got it”. They started to see how the child's hearing loss (often invisible to the teacher) affected his/her organization, processing, vocabulary, etc and accepted the modifications and accommodations that were in the students' IEP. This then led the child to be more successful and the child's inner self shined.
My friend is not sure that his supervisor understands this, but he is sure that he is doing the right thing. He tells the kids like it is. “You have a hearing loss. It stinks, but it is not going away.” So, what are we going to do to get around it or help you learn/get a job easier? In the end, he has taught handfuls of children to be independent and successful.
What are your thoughts? Who is right? Please leave your comment below on this site and check out my website at: www.communicationconnections.org
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.