Friday, October 30, 2015

Supporting Each Other: Teachers of the Deaf and Educational Audiologists

It’s a typical Monday. One of your students has a dead hearing aid battery. Another is experiencing some static through her FM system. In another classroom, the student pass-around microphone is no longer synced with the soundfield tower. As teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing we are called upon to troubleshoot, re-sync, inspect and clean amplification on a daily basis. We know our students and their equipment well and have no choice but to learn how it all works together! Teachers and other school staff come to depend on us to help resolve problems with the hearing technology, including equipment malfunctions. But this is only one part of our job as the bulk of our time is spent consulting with staff and directly instructing our students. The ideal situation would be if every school we work in had an educational audiologist on the team. School teams may not understand the need for both an audiologist and a TOD so we have to make efforts to help them understand the role we each play in the student’s education. When there is no educational audiologist on the team, there is generally little or no contact between the audiologist and the school. It is critical that the TOD and audiologist collaborate and communicate regularly to ensure optimal access for our students in school.

In explaining the differences and overlapping responsibilities of the TOD and audiologist to school staff, some factors to consider include:


Additionally, teachers of the deaf/hard of hearing see the application of hearing technology in the classroom and the student’s access. We have important information to share about a student’s academic progress, speech and language development, auditory comprehension and equipment use in the classroom. We must also communicate with the audiologist around problems with equipment in case adjustments need to be made. I find communicating with the audiologist via an email the easiest but phone calls or in-person visits are sometimes options as well.

Audiologists are knowledgeable about equipment and the student’s hearing needs from observing the student in the booth. They must communicate about technology to the TOD/HOH including changes in FM settings, adjustment to CI maps and HA settings (e.g. activation of noise reduction options) as this will affect the student at school. This information is often communicated in reports which can be sent directly to the TOD with parent permission.

Teachers of deaf/hard of hearing and audiologists are both important members of a student’s team. How do you collaborate with your student’s audiologists?