One student's experience - High School

By Zoe Dunn

I began Year 7 with trepidation and excitement, I was
thrilled to have the opportunity to learn more. However, I did experience
obstacles due to my disabilities. I am profoundly deaf, with bilateral cochlear
implants and have cerebral palsy. I used an electric wheelchair to navigate
school and utilised my FM in the classroom.

Throughout my high school years my teachers of the deaf
supported my learning. I had three itinerant teachers in the private system,
from years 7-10 and then one teacher in years 11 and 12, in the public system. Beginning
high school, I was glad to have the support of my teacher of the deaf who I had
in primary school. He supported me in my transition to high school and helped
me feel prepared. He also met with all my teachers and ensured they knew how
best to support me.

Despite this, there were instances where I did not receive
support, an example of this was my year 7 music exam. Even though my itinerant
teacher had informed the school of my needs, I was told to sit this exam with
no provisions. I do not hear music well and find it difficult to access. Nevertheless
I had to sit the exam, I was not given the required second listening, I was
forced to sit the exam without a scribe. My cerebral palsy prevents me from
being able to write, so this was near impossible. Needless to say, I failed.

In year 7-10, my itinerant teachers primarily helped me one
on one with classwork. I was keen to do well and found the workload
challenging, so I greatly appreciated the time I had with them to clarify
concepts that I may have missed in class. They were creative in their approach,
allowing me to do the work I wanted to do, while also including vital language
and comprehension into our discussions. Unfortunately, my itinerant teachers
were limited by the length of time they had with me, one hour per week, as well
as a school who did not understand my educational needs.

In Year 10, it became painfully obvious that this was not
the right school for me, especially for years 11 and 12. They provided the bare
minimum in terms of exam provisions, which were not appropriate for me and would
have ensured my failure in the HSC. In addition to this I felt like I was a
burden on the school and no longer a valued student but only an expense. This
attitude was not from my classroom teachers but from an unyielding

I moved to a local public school for years 11 and 12 and it
was the best decision I ever made. The new school welcomed me with enthusiasm
and warmth, such a contrast to my old school. They genuinely wanted to ensure
my success, I no longer had to fight to be heard. In consultation with my new
itinerant teacher, the school provided me with appropriate provisions to ensure
I was able to showcase my academic ability.

My new teacher of the deaf could provide me with six hours
of support per week, in contrast to the one hour I received before. With all
this time, she could provide more support which was especially important for
the last years of high school, through to the HSC. Not only did I receive help
one on one, I also had in class support, which I had not received since early
primary school. The HSC is a stressful time and she also helped me manage my
anxiety about exams and assignments. My itinerant teacher also encouraged me to
learn how to advocate for myself, a skill that has been really important in
school and beyond.

University was the next step and my itinerant teacher’s
support in my transition to tertiary education was invaluable. From helping me
choose courses, to attending meetings with disability services at various
universities, she really assisted me to make an informed decision about which
institution would  be best for me. 

I am forever grateful to the teachers I worked with, who
inspired me and encouraged me to see my deafness not as a barrier but to
celebrate who I am with it. I valued the relationships we developed and the
support they gave me, for without it, I would not be who I am today.

One student's experience - Primary School

By Zoe Dunn

I was an enthusiastic six year old when I started
kindergarten. I began school a year later than most of my peers to ensure that
my speech and language were well developed. While I enjoyed school and it was
where I started my lifelong love of learning, there were challenges pertaining
to my disabilities that made school life difficult. I am profoundly deaf and
have cerebral palsy. My physical disability affects my fine and gross motor
skills, so I have trouble walking and performing tasks such as writing. When I
began school I used a wheelchair and a walking frame, I also had a cochlear
implant, hearing aid and an FM.

Over the course of primary school I had four teachers of the
deaf and they supported my learning throughout. My itinerant teachers provided
assistance relevant to my needs at the time, they were dynamic and their
encouragement really helped me. I find it hard to remember exactly what I
needed in the early years so I asked my mum. She said that my itinerant
teachers provided the school with information about my deafness and strategies
to help access the curriculum. She also said that the regular contact from the
teachers about my progress was reassuring and she appreciated their support.

I remember struggling with learning how to read, which I
find ironic since I love to read now. In year 1, I recall I was only at Level 3
and felt ashamed because I knew I was not progressing at the same rate as my
peers. My itinerant teacher really helped me by working one on one with me in a
supportive environment. Due to my cerebral palsy I found tracking words along a
page difficult, in conjunction with traditional obstacles. It took dedication, patience
and at times a reminder of where I was on a page but I did learn how to read.
This was an accomplishment and it opened a whole new world for me to explore
and provided me the opportunity to learn more through books.

I also worked on my comprehension with my teacher of the
deaf in Year 4 and would look forward to our weekly sessions. I enjoyed reading
the passages and was encouraged to think more deeply about texts. Comprehension
is now a strength of mine and I consider the work I did with my teacher pivotal
to my understanding. It has really helped me with my schooling, through to university.
I am not intimidated when I read research papers even though it seems a foreign
language with all that jargon!

When I was 10 years old I received my second cochlear
implant. I found this time very challenging as I was uncertain and doubted the
need for the second implant as I felt that I heard well enough with my first.
My itinerant teacher worked alongside my speech pathologist, who was doing the
auditory verbal therapy. It was extremely difficult to learn how to hear
through the new device, everything sounded strange, so naturally, I did not
want to wear it to school. My itinerant teacher encouraged me to wear it and
helped me accept my new auditory environment. She worked to alleviate my
anxieties and motivated me to think positively about the experience.

My teacher of the deaf was important with my transition to
high school. I had the same itinerant teacher from year 6 to year 7 and this
gave me some continuity when everything else was changing. He helped me with
the shifting expectations and logistics that are unique in high school. Also, he
met with all my teachers and helped them understand my needs in the classroom
as a deaf student.

I feel privileged to have worked with so many amazing
teachers, who inspired me and encouraged me to recognise that my disabilities
are not a barrier to success. I really valued the relationships I developed
with my teachers in those early years and remember them fondly.

The Hearing Check that’s Child’s Play

By Carolyn Mee

Children need to hear to learn but all too often undetected
hearing problems cause children to fall behind during Primary School until
someone thinks to have the child’s hearing checked. By the time this happens
the child may not only be behind academically but may have come to deeply
believe that he or she will never be able to keep up with the other children at
Professor Harvey Dillon,
Department of Linguistics Macquarie University. 1.

In Australia, all babies
have access to a hearing test at birth. The newborn hearing screening program
is aimed at identifying children with moderate or greater hearing loss to
ensure they receive timely intervention, such as cochlear implants or hearing
aids, so they can hear in order to develop language and auditory brain
function. 2

In addition to mild loss, which
may not be detected by the newborn screen, there are other forms of hearing
issues that can develop in the years after birth. Illness, injury and genetics
can cause a child to develop debilitating hearing issues that if left untreated
can have a profound impact on their life.

It may be a surprise to learn
that more children are fitted with hearing aids during the first three years of
school than are fitted in the first year of life. 3 This may be due to their loss being mild
and hearing aids being unnecessary prior to school or it may be due to their
loss going unnoticed until learning issues at school trigger investigation.

If the child’s hearing loss
is due to a middle ear issue such as glue ear or wax, medical intervention may resolve
the issue. It’s estimated that more than 10% of children suffer from middle ear
issues and the impact of a middle ear issue can, if left untreated, be as
significant as that of a permanent hearing loss.

In addition to middle ear and inner ear hearing issues there
are a large number of children who have hearing disorders not in their ears,
but in their brains. Dr Harvey Dillon states that ‘some of these brain-based
issues are the consequence of middle ear infections the children had when they
were infants, toddlers or preschoolers’.

For those children who
don’t have their hearing loss identified early - which can depend on informed
and observant parents and teachers - it can take years to catch up both
academically and emotionally. It’s for this reason that access to a hearing screening
solution, particularly at school entry, is so important and why Sound Scouts
was created. Working with Professor Harvey Dillon, the Sound Scouts’ team recognised
the opportunity to combine the engagement delivered by play, with the science
of a hearing test, and the accessibility made possible by digital technology,
to create a hearing screen that every schoolchild in Australia could take,
every year if desired.

In its development, Sound
Scouts was trialed with over 1,000 children, aged from four years, through to
teenagers across a range of preschools, schools and hearing organisations. The
trials involved all children being tested by both a paediatric audiologist and
Sound Scouts. The game achieved a high level of specificity (98%) and
sensitivity (85%) for those children receiving a pass or fail result. 4

Sound Scouts is designed to
be played in a quiet, distraction-free space with adult supervision and good
quality headphones. Those being tested complete three game-based listening
activities. Two are based on perceiving speech, one
in noise, one in quiet, and the other is listening to tones against a noise
background. Each of these tests constantly adapts so the child/player is always
listening at the edge of their hearing capability.If the child has a hearing problem they aren’t made aware
of this while playing. It’s also important to note that the results are age
adjusted to account for improved speech perception and concentration.

The app screens for conductive
and sensorineural hearing loss. Sound Scouts has also been designed to test for
listening difficulties in noise (including spatial processing disorder which is
a brain-based hearing issue) which results in unclear perception of speech when
background noise is present. If a child is found to have listening difficulties
in noise further investigation by an audiologist or speech pathologist is recommended.
At the very least the teacher should be made aware that the child has
difficulty hearing in noise and should be seated at the front of the class.

Sound Scouts is a
screening solution and has been created to provide an indication of childhood
hearing issues (4yrs+). The newborn hearing screen is wonderful but it is not a
lifetime guarantee of good hearing which seems to be the misconception that
many parents are now under. As a company, Sound Scouts aims to raise awareness
about the importance of hearing and the potential for hearing to change at any
time. Technology, when carefully tailored to the task, which we believe Sound
Scouts is, can make the impossible possible, in this case providing a solution that
will allow all children to have their hearing tested at school entry and
anytime thereafter.

1. Sound Scouts video, 2014

2. Neonatal Framework for Neonatal Hearing Screening August 2013

3. Hearing Australia Background Paper for Senate Select Committee on Health

4. Harvey Dillon, Carolyn Mee, Jesus Cuauhtemoc Moreno & John Seymour

Hearing tests are just child’s play: the sound scouts game for children entering school, Pages 529-537, International Journal of Audiology,

Consonant Acquisition in Different Languages

McLeod, S.,
& Crowe, K. (2018). Children’s consonant acquisition in 27 languages: A
cross-linguistic review. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27(4),
1546–1571. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0100

As teachers of the
deaf, a sound understanding the typical development of consonants in children’s
speech is a requirement. Normative data on the acquisition of consonants in
English, including Australian English, is readily available. We know that for English most children will develop consonants such as
/p/ and /m/ earliest and /θ/ latest. We know that by the time children are 5-years-old the
majority of children will be able to use the majority of English consonants
correctly and will, on average, have percentage consonant correct scores of
over 90%.

However, what happens
when the child you work with speaks a language other than English? What do you
know about typical patterns of consonant acquisition in languages other than

McLeod and Crowe (2018) recently published a review of studies
examining consonant acquisition in the American Journal
of Speech-Language Pathology. Included in the review were 60 papers describing 64 studies of
consonant acquisition in 27 different languages: Afrikaans, Arabic, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch,
English, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic,
Italian, Jamaican Creole, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Maltese, Mandarin,
Portuguese, Setswana, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Turkish, and Xhosa. Dubbed
“That one time a journal article on speech sounds broke the SLP internet” (The Informed SLP), this systematic review has caused intense
discussion among the speech-language pathology and educator community as
representing ‘new’ norms for age of consonant acquisition in typically
developing children.

In this
paper there are four main sections:

  • Data
    from the 64 studies were analyzed and presented in the paper in terms of the
    consonants that children acquired to the 75-85% criteria and to the 90-100%
    criteria and the mean age of standard deviation for the acquisition of each
    consonant is given.
  • The
    accuracy of consonant and vowel production is also examined across languages
    with mean values for percentage consonants correct (PCC) and percentage vowels
    correct (PVC) presented for children of different ages.
  • Patterns
    of acquisition based on the features of consonants such as manner and place of
    articulation are also discussed.
  • For
    languages where there were multiple studies that described consonant
    acquisition, case studies are given and consonants are grouped by their use at
    the two criterion levels (75-85%, 90-100%) at 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 years of age.
    The languages described are English, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

How can this article
help you in your work?

  • Whatever
    languages the children you work with speak, understanding the ages at which
    particular consonants typically develop, particularly consonants that are not
    part of the English phonemic repertoire, can be helpful in monitoring
    development and guiding intervention. Examining the mean,
    standard deviation, and range of ages at which a consonant is acquired across
    languages can be a helpful guide.
  • Understanding
    the patterns that govern which consonants are typically acquired earlier and
    later across languages gives a sounder foundation to base intervention goals of
    for children who use languages other than English.
  • Even if
    all the children on your caseload speak English, and only English, there is
    still something for you as this article updates the norms for English consonant
    acquisition based on more recent publications than are typically used.

Other resources that
can support your understanding of consonant acquisition across languages are
available on the Multilingual Children’s Speech website.

By Dr Kathryn Crowe
and Professor Sharynne McLeod

Morphology: The Missing Piece of the Literacy Pie

the early 2000’s, researchers have focused on five subskills deemed critical
for readers to obtain while learning to read English: vocabulary, phonology,
decoding skills, reading comprehension, and fluency.  While there is little argument that these five
skills are critical, a subskill seems to be missing, morphological
knowledge.  Considering that English is a
morphophonemic language (print English represents meaningful word parts as well
as a phonological code), it seems logical that phonological and morphological
instruction would be important to decoding the language while reading. 

knowledge includes understanding that morphemes are the smallest part of
language that still has meaning, being able to break words apart into their
morphemes (e.g., happiness can be broken up into happy and -ness),
and being able to follow rules to combine morphemes to make new words (joy
and -ful are combined to make joyful).  Morphemes fall into two categories:
inflectional and derivational. 
Inflectional morphemes change the tense, number or gender of a word and
provide readers with clues about the grammar of a sentence.  Take the sentence “The boy is walking.”, the
inflectional morpheme -ing tells the reader that the act of walking is
ongoing.  Also the lack of an -s on the
word boy tells the reader that there is only one boy walking.  The second type of morphemes are derivational
morphemes.  Derivational morphemes are
combined to make new words or are used to change the class of the word.  When you add -ful to help, the noun
or verb help becomes the new word and adjective helpful.

morphemes meanings and how to break apart or combine words is helpful because
the English language is more regular in the way it is written than in the way
it sounds.  For example, the words heal
and health have the same morpheme heal.  
Although they are spelled the same, the words sound different.  Readers can use the spelling pattern to help
them figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word.  Also, teaching morphology gives the students
a way to generate vocabulary knowledge on their own.  About sixty percent of new words can be
decoded using morphological knowledge.  If
you teach students that bio- means life, they are able to get the gist
of words like biology, biography, and bioluminescence.  On the other hand, if you only teach students
how to sound out bio- using their phonological skills, they may have no way to
understand what the word means.  Students
who receive morphological instruction have the ability to decode for meaning
when reading. 

addition, morphological knowledge continues to develop and support reading
comprehension after phonological skills have plateaued around the age of eight
or nine.  Morphological knowledge also
makes a unique contribution towards reading comprehension because it supports
word knowledge in a way that phonology cannot. 
For the reasons listed, researchers are encouraging educators to add
morphological instruction to their daily reading lessons.  Morphological instruction benefits readers
with and without disabilities as well as deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH)

students’ struggle with reading has long been documented.  Some believe that DHH readers get stuck at
the very basic level of reading, decoding. 
There are at least two reasons for this: vocabulary knowledge that is
not equal to that of their peers who are hearing and delayed morphological
knowledge that starts in preschool and persists to college.   DHH
readers experience delayed English morphological knowledge because they may not
hear the morphemes in spoken language and the morphemes are represented
differently in signed languages.  Both of
these situations lead DHH students to being underexposed to morphemes causing a
delay.  To ameliorate the delay, teachers
of the DHH (TODHHs) can provide morphological instruction through spoken or
printed English.

teaching morphology, TODHHs should include the following instruction: (a) how
to recognize component morphemes within words that have multiple morphemes, (b)
the morphemes’ and root words’ meanings, and (c) the rules to create new words
from morphemes.  For example, a text may
contain the word immunology. Immunology can be broken down into immune and –ology. Immune is the root
word meaning resistant to a particular
and –ology is the
suffix meaning the study of. First,
the student learns to recognize these two parts of the word. Second, the
student learns to define the word parts. Third, the student learns how to put
the meanings together to define the full word (i.e., Immunology means the study
of resistance to infection). Fourth, the student attempts to decode the word
with meaning in context.  Last, the
student and TODHH look for other words that also include that morpheme and
practice determining the meanings of those words.  Often, one morpheme can be found in 10 or
more new words.   For more information,
check out this link:

Jessica W. Trussell, Ph.D.
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY, USA

Further reading

Trussell, J.
W., & Easterbrooks, S. R. (2015). Effects of morphographic instruction on
the morphographic analysis skills of deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Journal
of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
, 20(3), 229–241.

Trussell, J.
W., & Easterbrooks, S. R. (2017). Morphological knowledge and students who
are deaf and hard-of-hearing: A review of the literature. Communication
Disorders Quarterly

Trussell, J.
W., Nordhaus, J., Brusehaber, A., & Amari, B. (2018). Morphology
instruction in the science classroom for students who are deaf: A multiple
probe across content analysis. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education,
11(3), 742–751.