Critical Issue 5: Many educators and school administrators lack sufficient knowledge and experience related to cochlear implant technology, realistic outcomes, and strategies to address language and communication development.
The causes of this issue as an obstacle were believed to be related to:
- The fact that no single organization is formally spearheading the identification and sharing of effective practices.
- The differing school philosophies, methodologies, and cultures related to implementation of programs that support development and use of spoken English for deaf children.
- The influence of medical community recommendations on the planning and implementation of educational programs.
- The lack of time and resources to document, publish, and share developments in the education of students with cochlear implants.
Some of the identified challenges related to addressing this issue were:
- Administrators having difficulty finding the time and financial resources to evaluate current programs and refine programs as needed to meet the needs of children with cochlear implants.
- The lack of financial resources and time to educate educators and administrators.
- The difficulty in overcoming biases of administrators and educators.
- Staff isolation and segregation of programs.
- Determining where to start training.
- Determining what is right for each school’s individual mission and culture while at the same time providing a program to meet the spoken language needs of children that has the support of hospital implant centers and families.
- The lack of systematic, purposeful language planning in schools.
- A fear of change in teaching strategies.
Some of the strategies identified by conference participants to impact change in this area were:
- Cross-training and collaborating with local hospital cochlear implant centers by having them come for presentations/trainings and providing them with information on ASL/English bilingual education.
- Sharing the National Association for State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) publication, Meeting the Needs of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Educational Services Guidelines, as a resource to guide recommendations for children with cochlear implants.
- Creating a national network to support interaction of administrators and educators who have established or are seeking to establish or modify educational program to meet the needs of children with cochlear implants.
- Developing and promoting a mechanism for information sharing within individual programs and between school programs.
- Encouraging administrators to share a clear school-wide vision specific to meeting the needs of children with cochlear implants, including:
- Language and communication beliefs
- A plan to address language and communication practices
- Creating National Collaborative Training (NCT), with leadership from the Clerc Center, that addresses effective practices for children with cochlear implants.
- Establishing national standards for teacher training and continuing education that include best practices for:
- Sign competency
- Language and reading
- Aural rehabilitation