✓ THINK TANK IMPROVES DEAF EDUCATION
Top leaders in deaf education met at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology to address issues in education for hearing-impaired children in the United States. During the meeting, invited attendees planned a larger, national think tank to address the issue.
According to the leaders, while the population of deaf children in the United States has changed dramatically during the past 20 years, the education system has not kept up with transformed needs. Only six percent of children with hearing loss had an additional disability 20 years ago, and today 40-55 percent of deaf children have at least one other learning challenge. Overall, more than 37 million children in the nation are deaf or hard of hearing.
“The scale of the crisis in deaf education has steadily increased, with a disproportionate impact on minority children,” said Patricia Scherer, PhD, Founder and President of the International Center on Deafness and the Arts, the organization that convened the meeting. “The population has drastically changed without corresponding changes in teacher education, and regional learning cooperatives have been disbanded. The fundamental question is where and how are these children going to learn?”
Professionals who attended the meeting included government representatives from Illinois and Virginia, as well as participants from other state governmental agencies, leaders of national government organizations, educators and administrators from Illinois Public Schools and other public and private schools for the deaf, mental health professionals, and medical doctors.
✓ BHI WARNS AGAINST DIY HEARING CARE
The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) has issued a warning to consumers on the risks associated with purchasing over-the-counter, one-size-fits-all hearing aids instead of consulting a hearing health care professional.
In its warning, BHI noted that hearing loss is sometimes the symptom of a serious underlying medical problem, and that all 50 states require consumers to use a credentialed hearing care professional to purchase hearing aids. BHI also points out that hearing devices purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet without the consultation of a hearing health care professional may result in devices not being accurately customized to the individual's specific hearing needs.
“Today's state-of-the-art hearing aids should be programmed to the individual's specific hearing loss requirements in order to provide good levels of benefit and customer satisfaction,” said Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI's Executive Director. “The process requires a complete in-person hearing assessment in a sound booth; the training and skills of a credentialed hearing health care professional in order to prescriptively fit the hearing aids using sophisticated computer programs; and appropriate in-person follow-up and counseling. This is not possible when consumers purchase one-size-fits-all hearing aids over the Internet or elsewhere.”
BHI has published two guides to help the hearing impaired make better decisions when seeking out hearing solutions: “Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids,” a step-by-step explanation of what to expect, ask, and look for when selecting and visiting a hearing health care professional and purchasing a hearing aid; and “Your Guide to Financial Assistance for Hearing Aids.”
“The best advice BHI can give anyone purchasing a hearing aid is to find a state credentialed hearing health care professional and to communicate openly during the evaluation, fitting, and trial period to increase the likelihood that [they] are receiving the best possible benefit from hearing aids,” said Kochkin. “It will make a tremendous difference in [their] ability to hear and in [their] quality of life.”
✓ NIDCD: FARMERS MUST PROTECT TWEENS’ EARS
At the National Future Farmers of America convention in Indianapolis, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) launched online materials to encourage parents to protect their preteen's hearing from loud noises on the farm. (http://1.usa.gov/futurefarmers)
The effort is part of NIDCD's national public education campaign, It's a Noisy Planet. Protect Their Hearing, designed to increase awareness of the causes and prevention of noise-induced hearing loss among parents of children 8 to 12. The new “Keeping it Down on the Farm” materials include downloadable tip sheets on how to reduce noise and a list of common sounds found on the farm that occur at potentially damaging levels.