Beyond Child’s Voice: Good News About Self-Advocacy

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Every year, our School Program assesses our current students’ use of self-advocacy skills. Teachers complete rating forms for our PII students in the fall and spring. The rating forms have teachers rate each student’s use of these specific self-advocacy skills:

1. Using a repair strategy with a teacher

2. Using a repair strategy with a peer

3. Asking for repetitions (What did you say? Would you say that again?)

4. Asking for clarification (Can you say that louder? Did you say ___ or ____?)

5. Asking for more information (What does ___ mean?, Can you explain that?)

6. Reporting problems with hearing devices

Our students showed nice progress with their self-advocacy skills this year. The area in which they showed the largest growth was using a repair strategy with a peer. In the fall, only 1 student, or 8%, of the 13 PII students, was using repair strategies with a peer. When the teachers recently rated the students, 8 of the 13 students, or 62%, were spontaneously using repair strategies with a peer.

Using repair strategies with peers is an important skill for our students to achieve prior to graduating from Child’s Voice. If they are comfortable using repair strategies with their peers here at Child’s Voice, they will be more likely to use that skill once they enter their neighborhood school.

Our goal is for at least 80% of the students to be using self-advocacy skills spontaneously. This year, 12 of our 13 PII students, or 92%, were rated as spontaneously reporting problems with their hearing devices. Students must be able to report problems with their hearing aids, cochlear implants, and remote microphone systems when they enter their neighborhood schools.

Our alumni have a Hearing Itinerant, who is a Teacher of the Deaf, who helps them with their hearing devices and remote microphone system at their neighborhood school. The Hearing Itinerant travels between schools and sees students several times a week, but it is typically up to the students and classroom teachers or other school staff to check the students’ devices daily. We work on reporting problems with devices and troubleshooting with our students as issues arise, with the goal of the students being as independent as possible before they graduate.

I look forward to seeing how our nine new graduates use their self-advocacy skills in their neighborhood classrooms next year.