Confirming your infant has hearing issues or profound deafness is a big shock, but today’s infants have few limits when early spoken language intervention and hearing devices are accessed. Parents find their infant has hearing difficulties ever-earlier, thanks to public education and the hearing screening tests newborns undergo before leaving hospital.
Oral deaf education seeks to equip an infant with verbal communication skills, and to enhance their personal and social development for daily challenges. This education means deaf infants can gain speech and language skills at a similar pace to their siblings and peers.
Children with an oral deaf education have a strong mainstream (hearing) identity with this educational process conveying self-advocacy and general literacy skills as a child learns.
Today’s Children Attain Peer-Level Outcomes
Existing misconceptions lead many to believe that children who are deaf or hard of hearing live in a virtually silent world with limited communication prospects.
Most parents however introduce oral deaf education to their child’s lives. This means the child’s speaking and listening skills are optimised for inclusion in family, social, educational and mainstream environments.
The childrens’ residual hearing is built on and developed with the support of hearing-devices, as essential tools for learning to listen and talk.
Home-Teaching Children From Birth To Three
Oral-deaf education needs to be practised in the home from as young an age as possible. It is a family-centred approach and while requiring patience and home-working, the results are extremely positive.
While oral deaf education is not linked to learning sign language, it is a communication option which deserves real consideration.
Recent technology advances mean oral deaf education is easier to choose, thanks to digital hearing-devices, cochlear implants and newer ALDs (Assistive Learning Devices).
Assistive Learning Devices Are Key
These ALDs include FM and Soundfield systems, which are relevant not just in schools, but are extremely beneficial in a home environment too.
A FM system sends the sound of your voice directly to the child’s hearing-device when you speak into a microphone and eliminates background noise.
A Soundfield system is similar but transmits sound to speakers in the room. Eighty-five per cent of children are mainstream-educated, but with today’s awareness and insights, there is no reason more children cannot learn to listen and speak.
(compiled by Nicola Fox)