Ask Not What Your Educational Audiologist Can Do for You … When audiologists and SLPs work together, children with hearing loss stand their best chance of success in school. School Matters
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School Matters  |   March 01, 2015
Ask Not What Your Educational Audiologist Can Do for You …
Author Notes
  • Kirsten Marconi-Hutkay, AuD, CCC-A, is an educational audiologist for Stark County Educational Service Center in Canton, Ohio, where she serves children ages 3–21. kirsten.marconi@email.sparcc.org
    Kirsten Marconi-Hutkay, AuD, CCC-A, is an educational audiologist for Stark County Educational Service Center in Canton, Ohio, where she serves children ages 3–21. kirsten.marconi@email.sparcc.org×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / School-Based Settings / School Matters
School Matters   |   March 01, 2015
Ask Not What Your Educational Audiologist Can Do for You …
The ASHA Leader, March 2015, Vol. 20, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.20032015.30
The ASHA Leader, March 2015, Vol. 20, 30-31. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.20032015.30
Ask not what your educational audiologist can do for you, but what you can do for your educational audiologist! OK, so maybe a bit dramatic, but true nonetheless. A cooperative relationship between a speech-language pathologist and audiologist is important in helping children with hearing loss succeed in school.
In today’s world of frequent budget cuts, many school districts rely on SLPs to manage the needs of students with hearing loss. For day-to-day issues, such as changing batteries and charging equipment, that approach may work. There are definitely times when an audiologist’s expertise is necessary, however. And in every situation, collaboration is always a winning combination.
What is an educational audiologist?
Educational audiologists were first recognized by the 1975 Education of All Handicapped Children Act, which mandated audiologic services for children with hearing loss. The Educational Audiology Association was formed in 1978 and continues to provide resources and guidance for educational audiologists.
Requirements for educational audiologists differ from state to state. In Ohio, for example, there are two requirements: a doctorate in audiology, plus a pupil services license from the Ohio Department of Education. The pupil service license requires coursework and a school externship. It prepares you for handling evaluation team reports, Individualized Education Programs, 504 plans for students with special health care needs, and other school-related issues that are not typically addressed in AuD programs. Audiologists interested in working with schools should contact their state department of education.
Educational audiologists offer many services to children with hearing loss and to the school staff working with them:
  • Provide comprehensive audiologic assessments with educationally relevant recommendations.

  • Troubleshoot and manage hearing aids, cochlear implants and hearing-assistive technology.

  • Lead in-service presentations on audiologic equipment, acoustic modifications, hearing-assistive technology and classroom accommodations.

  • Perform classroom-based assessments to determine the need for and benefit of hearing-assistive technology.

  • Complete auditory processing evaluations with educationally relevant recommendations.

  • Conduct hearing screenings and/or oversee hearing screening programs.

  • Present hearing conservation programs.

  • Deliver individual or group self-advocacy training.

  • Provide auditory therapy.

  • Collaborate with SLPs to develop speech, language and listening goals for IEP.

  • Evaluate and manage classroom acoustics.

  • Participate in ETR, IEP and 504 meetings.

  • Stay current on special education laws that affect students with hearing loss.

How can we work together?
It may take a village to raise a child, but I think it also takes a village to help a child with hearing loss succeed in the classroom. I rely on the SLPs that I work with every day. They help me to connect with my students, staff and parents. Together we look at classroom set-ups, activities and curricula to determine what, if any, accommodations and modifications are necessary.

It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to help a child with hearing loss succeed in the classroom.

We also discuss students’ goals, progress, mode of communication and engagement with peers, and the demands of the general education classroom. This collaboration extends beyond the beginning of school. Issues with technology, changes in hearing sensitivity, and questions or concerns from staff or parents are ongoing.
Classrooms rely heavily on technology for instruction and testing, and we need to ensure that our students with hearing loss can access this technology, which may include Communication Access Realtime Translation, closed captioning or personal FM systems. FM systems—as outlined in the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act—are to be provided by a licensed audiologist who is qualified and trained in pediatric audiology and in the fitting and management of assistive technology (classroom FM systems, auditory trainers, and group or individual amplification systems). An SLP should coordinate with staff to make sure these systems are implemented correctly. SLPs and audiologists also can discuss fine-tuning amplification systems based on students’ oral communication needs and progress.
I often have to reprogram a child’s hearing aid for it to work with an FM system. Such programming is one example of a service that SLPs or deaf educators shouldn’t attempt. It’s important to help district staff and administrators understand which services must be performed only by an audiologist.
The SLP is a vital partner who helps the entire school team understand the impact of hearing loss on communication and academic needs. By working together, SLPs and educational audiologists guarantee that children with hearing loss receive functional and consistent auditory signals in the classroom, access to technology throughout the school environment, and the full continuum of support and services.
When we combine our areas of expertise, we set up children with hearing loss for a successful school year.
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March 2015
Volume 20, Issue 3