What Does An Educational Audiologist Do?

Educational audiology is a critical subspecialty in the  field of audiology. The role of an educational audiologist is different in different settings but basically,  the educational audiologist  is responsible for managing audiological issues for children  in  schools. Large school districts may have a full time educational audiologist, others may have one part  time,  or one as a consultant who comes in  as needed, while others contract with a local clinic or BOCES to provide services. Unfortunately,  many school districts have no educational  audiology services.

 

What might an Educational Audiologist do?

The job varies depending on the district. If I were in charge of the world every school district  would have a full audiology center where all services could be obtained for children in the school district and in  the community. Since this scenario is rare, it  is  obvious that  I  am not in charge of the  world. At the very least, the  educational  audiologist should be available to monitor audiological evaluations for  children with auditory issues, communicate concerns to the clinical  audiologist from outside the district. She should help school staff understand the effects of hearing loss on academics and assist them in managing hearing loss in the classroom. Responsibilities will include managing classroom acoustics to eliminate background noise, teaching staff how to use FM’s appropriately, working on classroom accommodations for  hearing loss  including making  sure only one person speaks at a time, extended test  time  etc.

 

What happens when there is no educational audiologist?

As finances become tight many districts are  eliminating the position of educational audiologist and the  responsibilities are assigned  to others. The job of monitoring FM  and teaching others to use it may fall on the  teacher of the deaf who  has academic training but is  not a technology expert. Sometimes it falls  on the speech pathologist who has no specific training in hearing loss or the school nurse who has even less training on hearing loss. If the  clinical audiologist is interested he or she  can take some of  this responsibility and  include educational recommendations  in her  report to the  school and possible make a school visit  to observe how the  child  is managing in the  classroom. But the  school is not obliged to follow recommendations  of someone  outside the school.

 

When I make school visits

I love visiting schools.  I learn a lot every time I  go. I am also frequently distressed by the problems  kids are having which, I  believe, would not be happening  if  there were an educational audiologist in the  school. I see teachers who do  not repeat  comments of other  kids into the FM mic so the child with hearing loss misses classroom discussion.  I see classrooms where the  hush-ups are missing  from chair  legs so the  room is  noisy. There is no one  to explain to the staff the effect of hearing  loss on academics and  on literacy.

 

How does this affect our kids?

Kids with hearing loss need an advocate in the  schools. And that advocate needs to be someone who  really has information about hearing,  it’s affect on learning and literacy,  and can make recommendations about what needs to be modified. The audiologist from the  clinic can come into the school  and make suggestions but that person is not a  part of the  school team and does not have any  rights as part of the  IEP team that  determines what  a  child  will receive. Maybe the  schools staff will accept the recommendations,  maybe not. It is not  a good  situation. Every child with hearing loss  or other  auditory  issues such  as auditory processing disorder, needs an educational audiologist who is in  the  school,  and  part of  the  school  team,  and who  can  both  educate the staff on an ongoing basis and provide services to children. Everyone  with  an  interest  in hearing loss in children should advocate for educational audiologists in all schools. In the meantime, parents and clinicians needing  assistance for school issues might check out Karen Anderson’s website.

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 5 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.