In the birth to three years of age range, we work with families in getting services from health care providers and specialists. We assist families in understanding medical records and reports, terminology, conditions related to vision or hearing, assist with any devices they may use and setting follow up appointments. We assist families in creating routines and practices to help their child in the home environment to meet their needs, build skills and independence.
At ESU 5 there is one Teacher for the Visually Impaired (TVI) and one Teacher for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH). These two teachers work with students from birth to age 21 with a wide range of disabilities and needs.
In the school setting, age 4 to 21, vision services vary, based on the needs of each individual student. Each student is given a Functional Vision and Learning Media Assessment to determine how the student is able to use his/her vision in the school setting, the learning media (print, auditory or braille) that is most functional for the student for reading and writing. We look at how the vision impairment adversely affects the students ability to access curriculum in the school setting and what we can implement to assist the student. This information is compiled and discussed with the students’ team at the multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting. This report and information is then used to determine what type of instruction, curriculum, accommodations or modifications are needed to ensure the student is able to access the curriculum and education.
For students who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH), the services are also based on each students’ ability to access their hearing environment through the same MDT process. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing have access to a school based audiologist that works closely with the DHH teacher to determine benefits of assistive technology (FM personal microphones and soundfield systems) that accommodate the student and provide an accessible instructional environment. This assessment used is called the Functional Listening Evaluation. The Southeast Nebraska Regional Programs for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing (SNRP) helps to support these collaborations and extends services to families and school personnel through training sessions, consultations, and sign language workshops. The support given to students through SNRP services involves student support groups, field trips and other activities specifically designed for DHH students.
In the schools we work with teachers and case managers to ensure that student accommodations, modifications and any assistive technology that a student has is being used. TVI and DHH educators look for ways to help students become more independent in managing their vision or hearing. Many accommodations overlap to help students stay energized throughout their school day. Both vision and hearing loss create an enormous amount of fatigue. Simple strategies to help students with hearing better focus mainly on the reduction of noise. Close doors and blinds to reduce outside noise. Carpet floors and hang cork board to absorb noise and reduce reverberation. Seat children with hearing loss close to the teacher. Some simple strategies that are important for VI students but benefit all students are: teachers using dark markers on marker boards, writing larger with crisp print, watch your spacing, close blinds to reduce glare on whiteboards, be cognizant of the font used on worksheets and do not stand in front of a window when teaching.