Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Identification, Assessment, and Intervention Strategies for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students with Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Identification, Assessment, and Intervention Strategies for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

THE PURPOSE of the study was to ascertain methods of identification used by teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing who were working with students with learning disabilities, the training these teachers had received, and the accommodations and modifications they had implemented for their students. A 10-item survey was designed to solicit opinions and implementation procedures. Surveys went to teachers in a four-state region of the Midwest; 91 responded. Teachers indicated the use of various criteria to identify deaf and hard of hearing students with learning disabilities, and indicted that they incorporated a variety of accommodations to meet these students' needs. The survey showed that 50% of respondents did not feel adequately prepared to teach deaf and hard of hearing students with learning disabilities. Teachers expressed a desire for more training in identification, assessment, and intervention.

State and federal governments have recognized that a learning disability is a neurological disorder that creates personal, educational, social, and career challenges that occur throughout the lifetime of an individual and necessitate the development of special accommodations and services (Samar, 1999). However, many states do not recognize that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can also have learning disabilities. The exclusion clause of the definition of learning disabilities in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 2004 (IDEA 2004) has been interpreted by many states to mean that the learning difficulties of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can only be the result of hearing loss and not a neurological dysfunction (20 U.S.C. § 1401[3O]). As a result, deaf and hard of hearing individuals with learning disabilities may not be receiving comprehensive accommodations and services (Samar, 1999).

According to IDEA 2004, an individual's learning disability may be partially determined by a discrepancy between an individual's potential and academic achievement in the areas of oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, and mathematical abilities, in addition to an individual's inability to respond to research-based interventions that have been provided by a teacher in a regular education classroom with the assistance of a special educator or school psychologist (Cordella, 2006). However, it is more difficult to apply this measurement to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing because a variety of factors can positively influence the achievement of deaf and hard of hearing students. These factors can include early intervention, effective communication strategies in the home and school environments, a supportive family, and healthy exposure to the events in one's environment. Deaf and hard of hearing children who have learning disabilities will experience difficulties with achievement mostly as the result of a processing problem. According to Stewart and Kluwin (2001), a processing problem, such as learning disability, occurs when the brain does not organize incoming information adequately. Deaf and hard of hearing children who do not have learning disabilities may also experience difficulties with achievement, but their difficulties may be the result of a perception problem. A perception problem occurs when a particular sensory function, such as hearing, is inadequate. It is important to determine whether the achievement difficulties are the result of a processing problem (learning disabilities) or a perception problem (hearing loss), because that determination will help to identify those deaf and hard of hearing children who have learning disabilities.

Hearing loss affects the language acquisition and academic progress of students, but a student with a hearing loss should follow typical patterns of growth and achievement (Pollack, 1997). Hearing loss is usually not accompanied by characteristics of the processing problems of learning disability such as visual-perceptual problems, attention deficits, perceptualmotor difficulties, severe inability to learn vocabulary and English-language structures, consistent retention and memory problems, or consistent distractive behaviors or emotional factors. …

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