Children with mild to moderate hearing loss and conventional hearing aid users may require more conventional speech therapy, but will still benefit from sound awareness and discrimination work. Although signing is not encouraged with AVT, some children with severe hearing loss and conventional hearing aids, may also use sign language alongside their speech work. The success of speech therapy with conventional hearing aid users will depend on the extent of their hearing impairment, their motivation to communicate with speech, the dedication of the team around the child including parents and care-givers , and whether they want to follow the signing or speaking or both route.
A lot of speech work will involve listening activities and getting the child to discriminate sounds. This may initially be just simple everyday sounds or words, accompanied by pictures. Deaf children who learn language with sign acquire vocabulary at a similar rate to hearing, speaking children, but deaf children who are exposed to only oral language, will develop spoken language vocabulary more slowly.
They also find it harder to develop grammatical skills. It is also very important to give the child feedback and acknowledgement when they attempt any form of communication, otherwise they may become frustrated and start to give up communicating. To remove the barriers rather look at the deficits, we need to keep the hearing impaired person, their team and the family at the centre of the process. A thorough assessment means examining a range of skills and then developing a comprehensive program that focuses on all areas of communication throughout the day: Pragmatics, social skills and conversational skills Learning the use of language in context, turn taking, attention getting, initiating, responding, repairing, topic maintenance, shared knowledge and inference, facial expression, eye contact, proximity and touch.
Videoing the hearing impaired individual interacting is a good way to highlight certain skills to them and their parents. Language development Hearing impaired children are often unable to learn language in a natural way and so have to be taught about grammar and syntax. Teaching these language skills can be very difficult, and we also have to be aware that auditory memory skills and comprehensive language may be delayed. The use of sign can develop language skills, but some programs such as Auditory Verbal Therapy tend to discourage signing and lipreading because they are trying to promote listening development,which will in turn facilitate speech and language.
Speech development and expressive communication Speech development can also be a difficult skill to cultivate with a hearing impaired child. Much of the success will depend on their level of residual hearing, how well they are aided and their motivation. When considering speech development, we must be aware of a number of elements:. As well as helping the deaf child to communicate, everyone around the child must also have a heightened awareness of their own communication and the communication environment.
As communicators with deaf children we must be aware of a number of our own behaviours, including facing the hearing impaired child when communicating, talking clearly so they can see our lip patterns, and when needed, using gesture, sign or visuals to help with Auditory-Verbal Therapy, you may not follow some of these processes, as you are trying to teach the child to listen and discriminate.
ASL (American Sign Language)
We must also pay attention to the physical environment and communicate in an area that is well lit and where there is less background noise. Be aware that hearing children in the pre-verbal stage get feedback from an adult when they look at things, like a running commentary. This obviously is more difficult for a hearing impaired child as the child has to look at the adult and the object. It is important to let the hearing child explore and control their environment, but the adult can help by sitting with, or opposite the child, having a joint focus.
As an adult with a hearing impaired baby, try and respond as often as possible and try to follow your babies focus. Remember, even young babies can be aided from an early age to make the most of their residual hearing during that critical period of speech and language development. Auditory training also facilitates speech and language development. The type of auditory training will depend on the hearing ability and developmental level of the individual. There is a hierarchy of treatment with auditory training, and if you are starting at the beginning with a child that has only recently been aided or implanted, the initial auditory work will just be getting the child to discriminate between sound and no sound.
When the child can react to the difference between sound and no sound we work through a number of steps:.
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Examples of a Closed Set word list - shoe, pyjamas, gloves this group of words has different initial sounds, different vowel sounds, and pyjamas has more syllables. A much harder closed set would be - hat, mat, mouse, house, rat this group is more difficult as some initial and vowel sounds are the same, there is rhyme, and there are also words with close semantic links e. An Open Set word list can have an endless list of choices and exposes the child to new words, these tasks are much more difficult.
Enhancing communication with hearing impaired children and wearers of hearing aids
Other speech discrimination tasks might require a child to listen to sets of words, but spot the differences between each set e. Asking the child to discriminate words in phrases and words with background noise will also facilitate their listening development. Finally, to promote their word knowledge, we offer choices with questions e. What to be aware of when carrying out auditory training:. For some hearing impaired children, listening is not going to be their major source of receiving communication and they are going to rely on sign, gesture and lipreading.
There is a difference between lipreading and speech-reading. Lip reading relies on lip movement and facial expression, whereas speech reading uses lips, facial expression, gesture and sound. Lip reading training involves becoming familiar with eye contact, facial expression, and lip shapes. Lip readers will then learn to match lips shapes to sounds, learn to identify words and common phrases, and as they become more proficient, short then long sentences.
Barrier games and story retell are good ways to teach both lip-readers and to develop auditory comprehension. Barrier games involve facing the hearing impaired listener, but have a barrier between you so they cannot see what is in front of you, or what you are writing or drawing. If you are testing auditory comprehension cover your lips so that the listener cannot get clues by lipreading. Try having a series of corresponding pictures in front of both of you. Name a picture, then see if the listener can listen, discriminate and understand what you have said, and name or point to their corresponding picture.
You can do all sorts of games using the barrier such as map reading or picture drawing. Give the listener instructions to follow on a map and see if they end up at the same location. The impact you make may seem small, but if more sign language interpreters start being accountable, eventually, the field of educational interpreting will earn the respect it deserves.
Trustworthiness is a trait all sign language interpreters must embody. Wing Butler posits that it is our duty to display our commitment and trustworthiness at all times, on-the-job and off. Trust is a huge part of the sign language interpreting profession.
As ASL interpreters, we are representatives of our clients, our profession, and at times the entire Deaf community. One of my favorite examples of taking on a mantle for a job—and one that comes with high expectations of conduct—is the elite Tomb Guard of Arlington Cemetery.
These sentinels guard the famous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. No matter what the weather is like, there is always a Tomb Guard present. This award is symbolic of their dedication to the tomb, a dedication they are expected to honor for the rest of their days. Even when the guards become civilians, the TGIB can be revoked for committing a serious offense that discredits the Tomb of the Unknowns. In many ways, I feel that sign language interpreters should honor our position just like the Tomb Guard.
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Ours is a job that can be called on at any time, in any condition. Beyond that, sign language interpreters protect the communities we serve. Just this year, I was in a group of interpreters at a regional event, waiting for our next assignment. I was an interpreter from out of state, and the downtime gave me a chance to meet the local interpreter professionals. As many conversations do, it turned into a discussion about our profession: ethics, organizational decisions, and the injustices some find in our craft.
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As the criticism became harsher and harsher, I found myself slipping to the back of the group. These interpreters had no idea I had left the treasurer position just a couple of months prior. The video addressed many of the issues they were complaining about. Instead, the blaming and ill-will finding marched on until I finally told them the truth: that I had recently left the treasurer position.
All the interpreters stared at me in shock—and quickly moved the entire conversation to a more supportive, civil place. And how simple venting and unproductive negativity is harming our professionalism as interpreters. Whether we like it or not, our behavior directly impacts our integrity and our trustworthiness as representatives and guests of the Deaf community. We must pay special attention to our actions at all times so we can be worthy of greater trust through greater professionalism. How do we become more trustworthy? Our Code of Professional Conduct is a great place to start, but here are some other suggestions to help us stay professional as sign language interpreters.
This is exactly why we need to honor our profession through thoughtful consideration of our actions. Too many of us are taking our role lightly by posting anything and everything online. Psychologists call this concept intergroup bias. This violence can be as small as hostile discussion or as widespread as genocide. Intergroup bias is running rampant in our society, but I would suggest that our interpreting community has much more to lose by engaging in intergroup bias. This one is always a good idea. Are we expressing opinions to share of ourselves and build up the world around us?
Are we open to thoughtful, understanding discussions?
Even with people who disagree with our beliefs? It is truly an act of humility to slow down, listen to others, and consider both sides. It takes time and it certainly requires effort, but giving other people the benefit of the doubt can improve both our professional and personal lives.
Empathetic listening and seeking the truth is the fastest way to come up with creative solutions to our problems. Which brings me to my final point. Going back to my experience with my fellow interpreters, that entire situation could have gone very differently. Maybe we could have watched their annual report together for context.
If everyone still felt unsatisfied with the status quo, we could have drafted a letter to the Board proposing a solution in a respectful yet assertive fashion. This whole experience could have turned into positive action to make our sign language interpreter community better.
To me, being worthy of trust boils down to one simple choice: committing to a higher standard of professionalism. That is how all of us will truly become guardians of our profession and those we serve. Kelly Decker examines common ways sign language interpreters frame the task of interpreting and peels back some of the implications and impact on the field and the larger communities served.
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Sign language interpreters are taught that meaning is conveyed through accurate word choice. Do we give the same considerations to word choice when we label and describe interpreting itself? How do our words and actions frame our work?