‘Oral’ Deaf Education: Learning Success For The Hearing Impaired

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DALLAS (CBS11) – Inclusion. Acceptance. Success. It is what all parents want for their children. Now, a unique program offered at Sudie Williams Elementary in Dallas helps hearing impaired students overcome obstacles to getting there.

The program is called ‘oral’ deaf education and it is exactly like it sounds.

“I learned how to take a student who may be in 5th grade, but has a third grade language level, and close that gap,” said teacher Molly Browning. “So everything is language enriched.”

Hearing impaired students don’t use sign language. Instead, technology allows teachers to connect with the students’ own hearing aids and cochlear implants.

“I can connect to them and have a direct link, using our microphone,” said Browning. “They’re still hearing their outside noise; but when I connect to them, it’s directly focused and they can hear me a lot better.”

“I get to learn some new stuff… and get my grades higher,” said 5th grade student Eric Melendez. “My teachers help me to do reading and math, so I can solve them by myself.”

Hearing impaired students are taught in classes led by ‘teacher teams,’ right alongside their peers.

“They don’t see it as different,” said Browning, who earned a special certification in oral deaf education and is the campus’ Teacher of the Year. “They’re asking each other for help, they’re calling on a kid that might struggle in language, but excelling in math… and they’re working together to figure it out.”

Principal Michael Jackson said it often it comes down to learning to speak up, so they can catch up.

“It goes back to self-advocacy,” said Jackson. “When they can advocate for themselves in knowing that they belong and that they have a right to the road that leads to success, then I think that the world that awaits is theirs.”

The program is open to all hearing impaired students in the district. According to Jackson, the program also attracts students from the suburbs as advocates look for ways for all students to speak the language of success.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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