NOTE: Digital hearing-devices are available earlier, to many pupils and students since this post was written in 2011. Some are accessing sound from infancy with actual independence and self-directed learning in their classrooms.
The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme in schools in Ireland was assessed in value-for-money terms by the Department of Education and Skills from 2007/8 to 2010. Their June 2011 report is on the link below.
A Value for Money Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme (PDF to download)
In the report, concern emerges that “excess [SNA] support may lead to an over-dependence by the student on … support, [with] loss of opportunity for the student to develop independent learning skills”.
Separately, “an over-reliance by the class teacher on a student having such support”, can arise instead of the class teacher learning from the opportunity.
Read: Do Deaf Children Really Need A Special Needs Assistant?
With such concerns, teaching deaf and hard of hearing children independence works by using constructive criticism and feedback.
The DES report regarding deaf children and students:
- A ratio of 12 deaf/hard of hearing (hoh) pupils per SNA was advised in the 1993 Special Education Review Committee (SERC) report.
- SNAs “have a key role in supporting the needs of deaf/hoh students.”
- “The role of the SNA in Ireland should be restated… to include the necessary duties required to support the needs of deaf/hoh students.”
- This support can involve note-taking and/or use of ISL or SSE in class, checking audio-visual gear and providing deaf-awareness training.
- Where needed, a SNA for a deaf/hoh student reinforces concepts, provides follow-up instruction and facilitates academic participation.
Since 2011, hearing services for school-age children have drastically improved. Most deaf/hoh students do not need a SNA at school, but any teaching-support hours need prudent assignment.
For a deaf/hoh student, a SNA is a teaching-assistant, not a carer. Each SNA assigned to a school needs their responsibilities defined.
* Educational Supports For Deaf Children In Ireland
* Proposed SNA Cuts – Just The Tip Of An Iceberg?