Self-Advocacy Skills for Children with Hearing Loss
At the CCHAT Center, creating independence for children with hearing loss is one of our ultimate goals. This includes the development of self-advocacy skills that help build confidence in students as they prepare to return to mainstream schools. When children graduate from CCHAT, they will be able to handle a variety of issues that may arise in relation to their hearing loss.
What Self-Advocacy Skills are Developed at CCHAT?
Equipment Proficiency and Mastery
Students at CCHAT use hearing-assistive devices, like hearing aids and cochlear implants, to access sound. CCHAT staff members help students build a relationship with their equipment. Children with hearing loss learn about their devices, the different parts of their equipment and how they work.
Children in younger classes learn the importance of wearing their amplification for all waking hours. As they progress through the program, students are taught to identify problems, as well as how to independently change batteries and troubleshoot minor issues that may occur. Additionally, students at CCHAT learn how to explain their hearing loss and the necessity for hearing-assistive devices to future teachers and peers.
Hearing-Assistive Technology Systems
Many children at CCHAT take advantage of a hearing-assistive technology (HAT) system, sometimes referred to as an FM system. For HAT systems, children may wear an additional piece of equipment that receives sound directly from a transmitted speaker’s voice. A HAT system helps to decrease background noise and enhance sound quality in complex listening environments, like a classroom.
At CCHAT, students with hearing loss learn how to utilize their HAT systems. They are taught how to affix receivers and connect their HAT system to the transmitter that is worn by the teacher or speech therapist. Students learn the importance of reconnecting to new speakers after transitions between different rooms. See more information about HAT systems in our previous blog.
Advocation for Classroom Needs
When children with hearing loss mainstream from CCHAT into their neighborhood schools, there are a number of accommodations that can be made to make this a smooth transition. At certain times, the student will have to bring these needs to the attention of the teacher. Advocating for a better classroom seat location to enhance sound quality, alerting teachers about sound inconsistencies, and asking for certain information to be repeated are all important issues that students must be aware of. CCHAT encourages students to speak up for these accommodations in order to receive optimal access to sound and ensure the best possible educational experience.
How Does CCHAT Promote the Development of Self-Advocacy Skills?
The development of self-advocacy skills for children with hearing loss begins immediately upon enrollment at CCHAT. Children as young as toddlers begin building a familiarity with their listening devices. CCHAT’s staff of teachers, speech therapists and audiologists monitors progress and continually adds responsibilities that students can independently handle as part of their educational goals.
Self-advocacy skill development is built into the daily routine of all students and worked on during each aspect of the school day. Students are also introduced to self-advocacy topics and scenarios through lessons provided in group speech sessions.
Why are Self-Advocacy Skills Important for Children with Hearing Loss?
Upon leaving CCHAT, students with hearing loss enter a mainstream school system. Whereas CCHAT is home to a staff of listening and spoken language experts, staff members at mainstream schools may have little to no experience in working with children who are deaf and hard of hearing, and the equipment that accompanies that student. Additionally, students are leaving the comfort of CCHAT’s smaller classrooms with optimal sound quality and entering larger, noisier classrooms with many more students.
CCHAT students who have developed self-advocacy skills can better navigate the mainstream school system. They can overcome issues with their equipment on their own and know when to voice their requests for classroom accommodations. This leads to an overall better educational experience.
Independence for Children with Hearing Loss
Preparing students for a lifetime of success is at the forefront of all activities at CCHAT. While the development of listening and spoken language skills is a critical component, helping children grow their self-advocacy skills and build confidence is also essential. Children with hearing loss who can advocate for themselves are better prepared to thrive in a hearing world.
To learn more about all of the programs offered by CCHAT, visit our Hearing Programs and School Services page.