May 31, 2016

Awesome Self Advocacy Tool for Students: PowerPoint Presentation

One of the many things I enjoy about my job is collaborating with colleagues. I talked with a Deaf and Hard of Hearing teacher about a high school student I work with. I wondered how I could get him to talk to his teachers about his hearing needs and how they can help him in the classroom. He was very resistant to the idea of using a script to talk to his teachers. He told me, "I'm not talking to them about this stuff. It's boring. They already know about it." 

We understand how important it is for students to self advocate and we are always discussing how we can get them to do it effectively. She suggested that I make it fun and interesting. He can make a movie or a poster; something creative that he would want to do and have some control over. She made some excellent points. It does not have to be just the student and teacher talking to each other. Having a visual makes it more interesting but also useful for the student and teacher. Reading from a script or trying to remember what to say without any sort of visual guide would be tough and very dull. 

Why did I not realize this before?

I thought it would be best to start with him making a PowerPoint Presentation. He is very comfortable with using the computer and loves learning how to use different programs. First, I created an example, a PPT about myself, that he can use as a guide. I think most people learn best looking at examples, I certainly do. 

When I shared with him the idea of making a PPT and showed him my example, he was interested. I told him to have fun with it and to really take this opportunity to express his sense of humor. 

He had so much fun making his PPT! I was surprised at how much information he shared with me. He was able to demonstrate what he understands and he understands a lot more than I previously thought! He talked about what he needs in the classroom and what his teachers can do to help. He did a fantastic job. I was pleased at how well it went and wished we had done this sooner. 

The goal is for him to sit down with his teachers in the Fall when school starts again and show them his presentation. I am hoping it will encourage a discussion. I know the teachers will enjoy it and get more out of it than me giving them information about the student. 

I started doing this with some other students and got the same positive results. 

My colleague used my example to help some of her students get ideas on how to make their own PowerPoint presentations. They loved it! She was also surprised at how much information they willingly shared. Two of her students have already shown their PPTs to their teachers. She said that the teachers told her that they wish they had known, even though she had shared the information with them verbally and and through writing in the past. Having it come from the student is much more powerful! 

Again, I wished we had done this sooner! 

I look forward to doing more of these. :)

When looking online to see if other students have done something similar, I found only one example on the Hands and Voices website. A parent encouraged her son to make a PPT for his teachers. Great stuff, check it out:


January 7, 2016

Deaf High School Student Wants to Start ASL Club

A high school freshman student just transferred from another school system to one of the high schools where I serve dhh students as an itinerant or "traveling" deaf/hh teacher. She is profoundly deaf and uses sign language (mixture of English signs and ASL). She primarily signs. She does not use her voice. She is a very bright and tough young lady who during her second day at this new school announced, "I want to start an ASL club!" I totally understand why she wants to. She is the ONLY primarily signing deaf student in the entire district that uses an interpreter. How frustrating and lonely it must be.

I think an ASL club would be very well received. It would be extremely popular. I hope it would help bridge communication gaps between her and her peers. It would give her a purpose. It would be fun. It would be life changing for many. It is needed. It is about time.

So, how does one start an ASL club? Any ideas? Anyone have experience?

I want to help turn her ideas into a reality.


November 13, 2015

Role Models: Deaf and Hard of Hearing STEM Professionals

When discussing successful people who happen to be deaf and hard of hearing, most of my students are familiar with well known professionals in the entertainment business such as Marlee Matlin and Sean Berdy. This is great, but there are many other successful deaf and hard of hearing professionals to be used as positive role models demonstrating what hard work, passion, and determination can accomplish.

Today I will focus on deaf and hard of hearing professionals working in science, engineering, technology, and mathematical fields (STEM).

I came across this website from DeafTEC:

It contains videos of professionals discussing their jobs, what they do, and how they got into their chosen fields. Very cool. Very inspiring.

Here is one:

Anything to get the kids excited about their futures!


November 2, 2015

Great App!! Bitsboard

Bitsboard: the best educational app ever! All you need is an iPad or a Tablet. It helps you create individual boards of images or words and you can use them to create all sorts of games and learning activities. It makes tracking student progress a breeze. In addition, I don't have to waste so much paper and materials.

I have been using it to teach one of my students the names and name-signs of his teachers and friends at school. With their permission, I took their photos and use them to create some boards. We play games such as memory, true or false, bingo, and spelling bee using their pictures. It is so much fun!

Check it out:


July 22, 2015

Beginning the School Year: Setting Up Technology for Deaf/HH Students

As usual, summer went by quickly. The school year is about to begin! I am trying my best to get ready.

I tend to focus on getting technology ready for students and teachers to use within the first weeks of school. The technology usually includes FM systems and listening devices. I spend a lot of time delivering the equipment and teaching students and teachers how to use the technology. At this point, I am no longer surprised at how long it can take to get new technological equipment set up and ready to be used effectively in the classroom. It is not as if I can drop off the equipment and walk away. It is a long and sometimes complicated process.

The training usually takes the longest. It is my favorite part of the job. While it would be much easier to simply drop off the equipment, it would not be as interesting. It is crucial to make sure the teachers and students understand how it works, how to use it, and what to do if it stops working. This requires a lot of follow ups and back and forth.

Some students and teachers are immediately comfortable with using assistive technology in the classroom while others may take longer to adjust. In addition, there are students who hate it and absolutely refuse to use it in the classroom. Sometimes they may like it in the beginning and then decide they no longer need it or want it.

When it works well for the student it makes me happy. On using the CART system, one student remarked, "I don't have to concentrate too much. I am not as tired." It also makes me happy when the teachers get to experience how it positively impacts their students. It is truly gratifying to see them do well in the classroom thanks to the technology making learning more accessible for them whether it is through amplifying certain sounds, minimizing background noises, or visually through text and pictures. Technology can also be useful for sign language users. Technology can benefit everyone if utilized appropriately. I look forward to learning more about all the different types of new technology that would benefit deaf and hard of hearing students specifically.

What kinds of assistive technology have you used specifically with deaf or hard of hearing students? Do they seem to help your students?


June 4, 2015

Speak up! Spread the Word About Captions!

I am at a conference about educating students with disabilities with an emphasis on using technology. I am really enjoying my time and learning a lot!

However, some presenters and developers of software for students and educators to use forget to caption the videos included. I spoke to them about this issue and they all were very thankful for letting them know. One of them will go back and add closed captions and transcripts. Another told me she will hold a meeting to talk about adding captions and how to make teaching materials more deaf & hard of hearing friendly.

If you are at a presentation or using a software that has videos without captions, speak up! Spread the word. It can make a difference.