Raising and Educating a Deaf Child

International experts answer your questions about the choices, controversies, and decisions faced by the parents and educators of deaf and hard-of-hearing children.

Question from J.J., Virginia

I am an itinerant TODHH. I am working to support a student who has bilateral CIs and just started using an Oral Communication Facilitator (OCF) within the last 12 months because oral language development had been a struggle. Currently, there is a struggle to find the balance of the role of the OCF with the student and multiple teachers that work with the student throughout the school day. Is there any type of document that explains the role of an OCF, and/or why a child with cochlear implants requires signing support to continue to help facilitate spoken language?

Question from J.J., Virginia. Posted December 14, 2017.
Response from Marsha Gunderson - Iowa Department of Education and Iowa School for the Deaf

First of all, I commend the IEP team for recognizing that this student had language development delays and created a plan to remedy that delay. As we all know, plans often need adjusting as the student develops, teachers change, transition to a different building, and a host of other items arise. Multiple teachers throughout the school day can create communication challenges due to content, teaching styles, classroom settings, etc.

Oral Communication Facilitator, Language Facilitator, Communication Facilitator are all names for paraprofessionals who work with students by assisting, facilitating and guiding language and communication in the educational setting. It is the IEP team, which includes the student when appropriate, who should outline the specific roles and responsibilities of this one-on-one paraprofessional. There is no national standard on the roles and responsibilities of this paraprofessional. However, a quick search found some job descriptions.

The primary goals of this role seem to be 1) assisting communication in the classroom by expanding, coaching and prompting and 2) working to foster increased student independence.
One resource is Students with Cochlear Implants: Guidelines for Educational Program Planning, jointly developed by Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program of Boston Children’s Hospital. The documents are free and located at http://www3.gallaudet.edu/clerc-center/our-resources/publications/students-with-cochlear-implants.html.

Another resource is the Instructional Communication Access Checklist, one of the documents in the Placement and Readiness Checklists (PARC) at https://www.handsandvoices.org/pdf/PARC_2011_ReadinessChecklists.pdf. This is a tool the IEP team can use to gauge how a student accesses instruction using listening and spoken language, sign language, cues, or both sign and cues and how proficient the student is using that approach. One benefit of the tool is that it can emphasize skills that the student may need to have successful learning experiences in school.

Thank you for advocating for the communication and language needs of this student.