Beyond Child’s Voice: Alumni Self-Advocacy Skills Success

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Last month, I shared self-advocacy results for students in our School Program. Now, I am excited to share our alumni’s self-advocacy results with you.

Teachers completed rating forms for our students in the fall and spring. The teachers rate each student’s use of these specific self-advocacy skills:

  • Using a repair strategy with a teacher (I can’t hear what you are saying.)
  • Using a repair strategy with a peer
  • Asking for repetition (What did you say? Would you say that again?)
  • Asking for clarification (Can you say that louder? Did you say ___ or ____?)
  • Asking for more information (What does ___ mean? Can you explain that?)
  • Reporting problems with hearing devices
  • Using visual cues

I received 13 fall results and 9 spring results from teachers of our alumni in their neighborhood schools. The results by year were: 7 first year, 4 second year, 1 third year, and 1 fifth year student.

This year, the students’ area of largest growth was using repair strategies to ask for clarification. In the fall, only 46% of the students were asking for clarification. In the spring, 78% of the students were asking for clarification by asking question such as “Did you say ____?” or “Could you say that louder?” It is vital that students with hearing loss clarify what they did not hear or understand; bluffing, or pretending they understood, will not help them succeed in the classroom.

The most remarkable result was that 100% of the students were reporting problems with their hearing devices (hearing aids, cochlear implants, and remote microphone systems) by the end of the year. 23% of the students were not reporting problems in the fall, and by the spring, they were spontaneously reporting problems. We want our alumni to report problems and get them quickly resolved so that the student has only a brief time without access to curriculum.

In the spring, all of the students were rated as using visual cues (spontaneously or when prompted). Visual cues can mean many things, including looking at the teacher, looking at the Smart Board, or reading graphic organizers hanging in the classroom. Students can help themselves by using these visual cues when they did not hear directions or when they did not understand something that was said.

One area in which the students showed some nice growth was using repair strategies with a peer. In the fall, 77% of the students were not using repair strategies with their peers. By the spring, 45% of the students were using repair strategies with a peer spontaneously, and 33% would use a repair strategy with a prompt. Because most of the students were in their first year, I am very happy to see that many of them developed this skill in their neighborhood classroom.

Read more about self-advocacy and repair strategies here.