Iowa: A Different Challenge Every Day Iowa is blessed with more than 50 educational audiologists employed by the state’s area education agencies (AEAs). These agencies were formed in 1974 by the Iowa legislature to ensure that all children receive a quality education and that media, consultative, and special education support services were available to all school ... School Matters
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School Matters  |   September 01, 2007
Iowa: A Different Challenge Every Day
Author Notes
  • Laurie Allen, is an educational audiologist for the Keystone Area Education Agency in Dubuque, Iowa. Contact her at lallen@aea1.k12.ia.us.
    Laurie Allen, is an educational audiologist for the Keystone Area Education Agency in Dubuque, Iowa. Contact her at lallen@aea1.k12.ia.us.×
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Hearing Disorders / Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Special Populations / Early Identification & Intervention / School-Based Settings / School Matters
School Matters   |   September 01, 2007
Iowa: A Different Challenge Every Day
The ASHA Leader, September 2007, Vol. 12, 29. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM2.12132007.29
The ASHA Leader, September 2007, Vol. 12, 29. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM2.12132007.29
Iowa is blessed with more than 50 educational audiologists employed by the state’s area education agencies (AEAs). These agencies were formed in 1974 by the Iowa legislature to ensure that all children receive a quality education and that media, consultative, and special education support services were available to all school districts, large and small.
I am part of the Keystone AEA, which serves schools in eight counties covering more than 5,000 square miles in northeast Iowa. Approximately 250 support staff, including media, instructional, and special education professionals, are assigned to nine different field offices and provide direct and indirect services to children birth to age 21. Four educational audiologists serve approximately 36,000 children.
Iowa hospitals implemented newborn hearing screening programs several years prior to the state’s 2004 mandate. Now all audiologists, including AEA and private audiologists, are required to report their test findings of children birth to age 3 directly to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Test results are reported on a secure Web database that is designed to track hearing rechecks and medical follow-up so that—we hope—no child falls through the cracks. Audiologists are an integral part of the early intervention system, allowing for a continuous transition of services into the schools. They provide follow-up audiological evaluations on children who are identified through the hospitals’ newborn hearing screenings.
In general, the Iowa educational audiologists have the assistance of audiometrists, who are assistants trained to perform the mass hearing screenings in the schools. Usually several early-elementary grades are screened annually along with one or two secondary grades. In my AEA, all children in grades K, 1, 2, and 7 receive annual hearing checks. I check children who do not pass the screening, who have known hearing losses, or who are difficult to test. My audiometrist helps with scheduling and paperwork and assists in evaluating difficult-to-test children.
An increasing number of students are using assistive listening devices (ALDs). The educational audiologist is responsible for selecting the type of equipment, arranging for a trial period, providing in-service training to the student and teachers on its use, gathering progressive monitoring data, and making purchase recommendations to school districts. The audiologist also must support school ALD monitors and be accessible to the schools to ensure that each child’s amplification equipment is working appropriately. Real-ear verification testing of equipment and annual hearing and hearing aid evaluations help to reduce auditory barriers to learning.
Educational audiologists enjoy a career that offers different challenges every day. No day is the same. Children, families, schools, and teachers are all different. It is a profession that is rewarding in many ways. Audiologists witness the child’s reaction to amplification when equipment is turned on for the first time. They receive the report from the teacher that the child is doing better in class. And they are told by the speech-language pathologists that the child’s speech-language skills have improved with the use of amplification. Educational audiologists use their talents to help children and families and the rewards come back tenfold.
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September 2007
Volume 12, Issue 13