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Gallaudet Univeristy
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Critical Issue 3: Professional services and educational programs do not adequately address the needs of children with cochlear implants who have additional disabilities and/or are from homes where English is not the language of the home.

The causes of this issue as an obstacle were believed to be related to:

  • School programs not effectively planning or providing funding for services and/or training for these populations of children and their families (including those without cochlear implants).
  • Training not being provided at the university level to prepare professionals to work with these student populations.

Some of the identified challenges related to addressing this issue were:

Students with additional disabilities:

  • Hospital implant centers not adequately counseling families regarding the impact of a child’s additional special needs on spoken language implant outcomes.
  • Depending on age of implantation, a child’s additional needs may not always be evident.
  • The lack of opportunity to observe long term outcomes of implantation with children having varied disabilities.
  • Implant teams not having sufficient experience with children with additional disabilities.
  • Some families placing an unbalanced amount of time and effort into the cochlear implant process and training without equally needed attention on other areas of the child’s disabilities.
  • Families and professionals having unrealistic expectations in regard to spoken language growth specific to a child’s additional disability.
  • A lack of assessment tools for deaf children with additional disabilities.

Non English speaking homes:

  • Insufficient staff at hospital centers and schools to work with ESL learners/families
  • Insufficient resources to bridge between ASL, spoken English, and the home language.
  • Deaf families considering cochlear implants for their children, yet supports not being available at the implant centers or schools to support these families.
  • Lack of respect for a family’s home language.

Some of the strategies identified by conference participants to impact change in this area were:

Students with additional disabilities:

  • Mentoring and teaming with teachers experienced in working with deaf children with additional disabilities.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Release time to observe and consult with professionals skilled in working with children with additional disabilities.
  • Attendance at conferences specific to deaf children with additional disabilities.
  • Linking to specialty groups for specific disabilities.
  • On-site training for teachers of the deaf on issues specific to working with students with specific disabilities.
Non-English speaking homes:
  • Seeking out already developed materials available in other languages to use in counseling families about cochlear implants (i.e. materials from manufacturers, other school programs, etc).
  • Partnering with universities with ESL programs to provide support to families.
  • Investigating states that have already developed effective ESL models/resources.
  • Supporting the language of the home environment (i.e., providing an interpreter in the parents’ language).
  • Collaborating with other professionals to share modifications for assessment strategies.
  • Including multilingual staff members.
  • Providing focused support groups for Spanish speaking families.