Hearing loss in students, and how can school nurses help?
Hearing loss can have a severe impact on a child. Students who are deaf have stressful, isolated, and difficult experiences. Educating kids with hearing impairments requires more than just standard communication strategies. Even with today’s advantages of early detection and intervention, there is still much more that can be done to enhance the lives of deaf and hard-of-hearing youngsters.
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may be placed in a multitude of different settings, spanning from neighborhood schools to specialized day schools with residential components. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that students with disabilities be considered for a continuum of placements.
How are students with hearing disabilities supported at school?
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing typically begin school without a good linguistic foundation which is essential for developing language, cognitive, and learning skills. The school administrator’s responsibility is to ensure a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) that meets the individual needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Section 504 regulation mandates a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to qualified persons with disabilities.
FAPE outlines the key concepts that schools must follow while educating deaf and hard-of-hearing kids.
The key principles outlined for deaf schools are as follows:
Provide unique and safe learning surroundings for deaf students:
Deaf and hard-of-hearing students use a variety of communication channels and accessibility accommodations to participate fully in their educational programs. Students’ hearing levels may not always predict their ability to speak or utilize sign language, and instructors should not assume that students can hear because they can talk. Deaf students are more likely to be victims of child abuse and bullying than their non-disabled peers.
Appropriate academic and learning opportunities should be provided:
Deaf and hard-of-hearing children can achieve high levels of performance when provided with proper language, learning, and academic opportunities that focus on their strengths rather than their impairment. When students fail to meet their linguistic and academic targets, a statewide database should be maintained, and interventions should be implemented.
The family plays an important role:
Parents have the right to engage in their children’s educational planning as informed and interested participants. Educators should respect and consider parental preferences and choices, even if they disagree with local educational placement options. Parental involvement should be encouraged at all stages of planning and decision-making, and those who require accommodation should have access to it.
Specially designed instructions and assistance:
Training, assistive technology, and accommodations should be tailored to each student’s specific needs to help them become confident, autonomous, and full participants in their educational experiences.
Technical help also assists general education instructors and specialized instructional support professionals in understanding their students’ communication, language, and literacy requirements. Parents and students should have a say and a choice in the technologies and accommodations that are offered, ensuring that they are effective for the student’s age and developmental level.
Least Restrictive Environment:
The LRE is influenced by language, communication, and academic needs. A restrictive environment is one where children do not have proper access to proper language, communication, instruction, and social activities that are customized to their unique educational needs. Each local education agency (LEA) is responsible for ensuring the availability of a continuum of educational placements.
As a result, decision-makers must be aware of the whole continuum, which includes state schools for the deaf, special schools, charter schools, and other unique placement options in a certain locale or state.
Language development is critical for cognition, literacy, and academic achievement:
Language competency forms the foundation for the development of social-communication and social-cognitive abilities, as well as literacy and academic accomplishment. The first five years of a child’s life are crucial for language development. Students who are also English language learners may require additional program support and assistance.
Access to qualified practitioners:
Early intervention practitioners must have fundamental knowledge and abilities to assist families in promoting language development. State and local education authorities should provide professional development and training tailored to the specific needs of infants, toddlers, and pupils who are deaf or hard of hearing. Without skilled workers and proper support services, children’s capacity to achieve suitable outcomes is threatened.
Educational progress needs to be monitored:
All students’ language, literacy, academic achievement, and social-emotional health should be monitored and reported regularly. When providing services, individual needs must take priority over available resources. Adult and peer role models are vital for self-awareness, social communication, and overall well-being. When kids use ASL, signals, or cued speech, fluent adult and student-facilitated communication is extremely important.
State Leadership and Collaboration:
Strong state and local leadership, as well as effective collaboration among key stakeholders, is crucial for efficient program and service delivery systems.
A core team of outstanding deaf education leaders can promote high-quality educational services for children while considering the unique context of each state. Advocacy groups can give information and education that can lead to administrative, procedural, and legislative changes.
How can hearing loss affect the students in a school?
Hearing loss in childhood can have a significant impact on a child’s development. Hearing loss that goes undetected or untreated can lead to learning difficulties and social isolation. School hearing screening programs can provide early detection of hearing loss and interventions to reduce learning barriers.
The consequences of hearing loss vary depending on the kind and severity of the loss, as well as the appropriateness of the therapies.
Any type of hearing loss might impair a child’s ability to communicate effectively and perform academically.
Undiagnosed or untreated hearing loss can lead to:
- Delayed speech and language skills.
- Language deficits can lead to learning problems and limited academic achievement.
- Communication difficulties.
- Social isolation and a poor self-concept.
- Behavioral problems and negative impact on a child’s vocational and educational choices.
The school nurses’ response to students with hearing disabilities
While many schools have increased the involvement of health aides for day-to-day student care, school nurses are mandated to undertake many of the medical procedures required by some special education kids. School nurses provide guidance and management of health-related services in schools.
The school nurse’s responsibilities with deaf or hard of hearing kids may include, but are not limited to:
- Demonstrating efficient communication practices, such as direct communication and/or the use of an interpreter.
- Creating protocols for hearing and vision screening and follow-up; conducting health and developmental evaluations.
- Serving as an educational resource for staff on health education.
- Acting as a resource for staff on community resources for health and human services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Prepare students and staff for actual screening and follow-up processes.
- Obtaining and analyzing result data to assess the efficacy of the health appraisal program.
The nurse may also be responsible for identifying and recruiting others, such as parents, senior citizens, secondary school students interested in health jobs or service opportunities, and health care professionals, to successfully undertake screening processes.
School nurses are important in identifying and advocating for deaf pupils.
According to school nurses, hearing screenings increase pupils’ quality of life. Only less than half percent of the school nurses surveyed stated there were no obstacles to screening students for hearing loss. School nurses faced significant challenges in conducting hearing screens in their schools due to a lack of time, parental support, and knowledge of how to appropriately screen for noise-induced hearing loss.
School nurses play an important role in identifying children at risk of Noise-induced hearing loss. Half of the children newly diagnosed with hearing loss are between the ages of 4 to 6 years old, and the percentage of children declines as children get older. School nurses must become advocates for hearing screening policies and procedures, as well as instructional programs focused on decreasing hearing loss. Teachers, staff, parents and students can all benefit from hearing loss prevention education provided by the school nurse.