For the last blog post of 2014, here are some recent media pieces, to remind ourselves how early access to hearing and speech services can improve childrens’ life prospects.
Lydia Denworth (author of I Can Hear You Whisper)
Lydia Denworth’s recent post in Time Magazine, Raising A Deaf Child Makes The World Sound Different, will resonate with parents of deaf children. One point she makes is that inclusive classrooms benefit everyone:
None of the children in his first grade classroom heard the math assignment because the air conditioner sounded like a standing mixer. Swapping out the old equipment helped 20 kids, not one. Ditto for adding carpeting and curtains, and covering the metal legs of chairs. According to the Acoustical Society of America, noise levels in many classrooms are loud enough that those with [typical] hearing can hear only 75 percent of words read from a list.
Her son Alex, like many of his peers, did not access a newborn hearing test but learned to hear and speak early on, after Lydia’s family was coached in home-teaching strategies.
Teens’ Reading Skills Benefit From Newborn Hearing Tests
Recently, the benefit of newborn hearing tests to teen reading skills was cited by researchers at the University of Southampton, and Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
On average, the teens diagnosed before the age of nine months had significantly higher reading comprehension scores than their [later detected] counterparts. In fact, the [reading comprehension] gap had widened since the children were in primary school.
Research shows children who get to listen and speak from the start, have strong literacy skills to access realtime captions and to read text-based information at home and school.
Sign Language Use Is Declining
In Australia meantime, cochlear implants, technology and vaccinations are reducing sign language use, says Professor Trevor Johnston of Sydney’s Macquarie University:
Predictions are very difficult … but it looks as if the population of deaf people who use sign language will continue to decrease, so there will be a time in the next 50 years where I feel comfortable to say the deaf community won’t exist.
Childrens’ Schools As Hubs For Resource Services
Significantly, “health hubs” are being piloted at Broken Hill primary schools, for university students to intern with children who need hearing, speech and other services.
What this means is, intervention services are moving to local schools instead of being delivered by specialist centres that may require children to travel to access services.