Beyond Child’s Voice: Self-Advocacy in the Mainstream

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Last month, I shared self-advocacy skills results for students in our School Program. They all showed nice progress over the course of the year and 92% of the students were reporting problems with their hearing aids or cochlear implants.

We also track our graduates’ self-advocacy skills during their first five years in their neighborhood schools. We send the same rating form we use for the current students to the public school teachers. If the teachers return the fall form, we send them another form in the spring. This year, we received fall and spring results for 12 of our graduates. The breakdown of students by year was 5 first year, 1 second year, 3 third year, 2 fourth year, and 1 fifth year in their neighborhood schools.

Our goal is for at least 80% of the students to be using self-advocacy skills spontaneously in the spring. This year, 11 of the 12 students, or 92%, were rated as spontaneously reporting problems with their hearing devices. It is crucial that our graduates are able to report device problems to their teachers and school staff. Students with hearing loss must have continuous access to sound in order to listen, learn, and participate in their classrooms.

92% of the graduates were also rated as asking for more information spontaneously. These communication repair strategies could include: “What does ___ mean?”, “Can you explain that?”, and “What are you talking about?” It is excellent that our alumni are using these strategies to ask their teachers and peers for help understanding new words or the topic of conversation.

These results demonstrate that our alumni are using and building on the self-advocacy skills they learned when they were at Child’s Voice. We are so proud that our alumni are using these skills in their neighborhood schools.