Academic journal article The Volta Review

ConnectHear TeleIntervention Program

Academic journal article The Volta Review

ConnectHear TeleIntervention Program

Article excerpt

Introduction

"We wish we had that option in our area."

"Wish we lived closer."

"I wish I would have known."

These statements, made by parents of children who are deaf and hard of hearing, illustrate a frustrating reality for many families - a lack of access to qualified professionals and specialized services to help children with hearing loss develop listening and spoken language. When access to communication options and qualified professionals is not readily available where a family lives, parents may not be given unbiased information and consequently informed choices about service options may not be made. In the state of Wisconsin, access to certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialists (LSLS(TM)) was limited to a relatively small geographic region. The professionals at the Center for Communication, Hearing, & Deafness (CCHD) began to explore ideas to make all communication options, including listening and spoken language, accessible to families throughout the state no matter where they lived. The ConnectHear Telelntervention Program was established to fulfill this commitment.

About the Program

CCHD is a private nonprofit agency, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since 1926, the center has worked with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing and is considered a leader in providing quality, state-of-the-art services. CCHD offers choices across the continuum of visual and auditory approaches to meet the diverse needs and goals of the families served. The many dedicated professionals at CCHD include speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing who are highly trained and experienced to provide quality services in a family's chosen communication option, and the only LSLS certified professionals in the state. In addition to direct intervention with families, CCHD provides awareness, education, consultation, and professional training related to a listening and spoken language approach for early interventionists and other service providers.

The ConnectHear program is implemented by LSLS certified professionals with experience and knowledge about offering a spoken language option, specifically auditory-verbal therapy, through the use of computers, web cameras, and high-speed broadband Internet. The program has the potential to reach families who would not ordinarily have access to LSLS certified professionals in their local geographic region.

The auditory-verbal approach can be described as a comprehensive one-toone therapy that focuses on audition for the development of listening skills as the foundation for all aspects of language and communication. The prominent tenants that facilitate the effectiveness of auditory-verbal services via telepractice are: parents as case managers and primary interventionists; parent guidance and coaching; diagnostic nature of the approach; and highly trained practitioners with specific knowledge, background, and experience teaching listening and spoken language skills in a family centered approach. The Principles of LSLS Auditory-Verbal Therapy, as defined by the AG Bell Academy for Listening and Spoken Language (2012), provide more details.

Telepractice is a logical and advantageous pairing with auditory-verbal therapy as it relies on parents' active participation. Parent participation is key to the success of both auditory-verbal practice and telepractice.

Background

In 2006, CCHD piloted what was then called a "long-distance auditoryverbal therapy service." The primary questions to be addressed were: (1) Would this type of service delivery be feasible? and (2) Could this service delivery model be effective for positive outcomes in auditory skill development and all aspects of spoken language? Essential to the start of this program were considerations regarding appropriate equipment, costs, fees, professional issues, and sustainability. Many additional questions were raised as well - How would parents respond to this model of service delivery? …

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