Friday, May 16, 2014

Justification for Teacher of the Deaf Services

As the school year winds down over the next few weeks, teams will be thinking about services for next year. Whether services will stay the same or change, it is valuable to have a conversation with the team regarding teacher of the deaf support for the next school year. Because key players can change – superintendents, special education directors, principals and special education teachers – everyone must understand the role and importance of the TOD in order to advocate for continued service when a new team member(s) takes over.

The first task is to explain the role of the teacher of the deaf and how we work with SLPs, special education teachers, classroom teachers and support staff, and other service providers on the student’s team. Teachers of the deaf have an in depth understanding of hearing loss and its impact on academic, social/emotional, literacy, and language development in an educational setting. Teachers of the deaf are trained to adapt or modify curriculum to meet the specialized needs of students with hearing loss. We target IEP goals and objectives with the hearing loss in mind and are always thinking not only of what language structures and skills the student needs now, but also what the student will need in upcoming units so that we can pre-teach curriculum concepts and skills for more independent learning. Additionally, we can anticipate what some of the potential social/emotional and self-advocacy challenges may be for our students and preemptively give them strategies to handle these potential difficulties with confidence.

When thinking about service hours for the upcoming year, consider:

The student’s skills and challenges and the reason for the teacher of the deaf service (i.e. academic support, transition to a mainstream program, social / emotional support and self advocacy). Are all areas being addressed within the current time allotted?

The current level of direct service. Is it enough? If the student is not making the progress you would have expected, would more individual time help? Is it too much? Is the student becoming dependent or resistant? If so, a reduction in individual time may be appropriate.

Consult time with teachers and support staff. Is this currently part of the student’s grid? If not, it should be added. (For a more detailed argument for adding consult time to the students IEP grid, see my earlier post, “Making the Most of Consult Time.”)

Classroom Observation Time. Again, if this is not part of the student’s current grid, consider adding structured weekly or monthly classroom observations. Earlier posts including, “Considering Captioned Media”, “Tracking Auditory and Self-Advocacy Development” and “Maximize FM Use” provide topics which justify time spent in the classroom by a teacher of the deaf who can help implement and monitor these aspects of the student’s education.

The upcoming IEP goals and objectives. What amount of individual pull-out vs. push-in time is needed in order to meet those goals?

This grid from Karen Anderson can be completed by the team to determine the level of support needed in addition to observations and other formal and informal evaluations.


  1. Heather - great post! I am going to let people know about this. It does a great job of explaining what a ToD does - I think too often there is very little understanding from mainstream education of what role the ToD plays and in my opinion if you have a hearing loss you need a ToD - no questions asked. It doesn't matter how well the child is doing, having that extra support and understanding goes a long way

    1. Krysty,
      Thank you for your feedback! I completely agree- even with a strong team there is always room for further education and refinement.

  2. Hi.

    As a person with hearing loss (bilateral CIs) and someone who works with children with hearing loss (DHH Specialist), I immediately get turned off when I see the acronym TOD. Since most of the children we work with, I assume, are hard of hearing or are functionally hard of hearing, why is the term "deaf" used to describe these kids? Though I have several students on my caseload who have cochlear implants and are therefore technically profoundly deaf, they do not function as if they were deaf. My caseload is comprised of children who have varying degrees of hearing loss but are certainly not deaf.

    I would like folks to rethink, and hopefully rename, the term Teacher of the Deaf. It really does not describe who we work with...any ideas for a name change?? I kinda like TAH, Teachers of the Atypically Hearing. :)


    Forestville, CA

    1. Ann,
      Thank you for your comment. You bring up an interesting point and this is something that my colleagues and I have talked and thought about before. I am aware that there are many different titles out there to describe what we do across the states - I invite others to share their titles, comments and ideas as well.

    2. We currently go by "Teacher for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing"

  3. Teacher of the Acoustically Challenged or TAC
    Denver, CO

  4. Provide context and repetition, which is helpful not only to students with hearing loss, but to other students as well: announce what’s about to happen and recap what’s just taken place.