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June 13, 2014

Program designed to assist deaf students

GREENVILLE —

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), in a traditional school setting, children with hearing loss fall from one to four grade levels lower than their peers. 

The gap continues to widen as the children age unless support educational services are implemented. 

Colleen McDonald, executive director of Special Education at Greenville Independent School District, helps with one such service. 

Greenville ISD is a part of the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) shared service agreement, which is an agreement among 26 Independent School Districts which helps any child in the region who is born with an auditory impairment. 

The program is collectively funded by the region and through state and federal grants. It has three teachers in Greenville, one itinerate teacher, and five interpreters who work with the children in the program.

The children in the program fluctuates depending on enrollment, but 12 students in the region come directly to the Greenville classrooms and 40 students are served in their home districts.

Also included is the Early Childhood Intervention program, which helps babies who are born with auditory impairments. There are currently three babies in the program. 

McDonald said by having a collective share in the cost of the program, it helps the district keep costs at a minimum.

“The cost-effectiveness is a benefit,” she said. 

Another benefit is the interaction among students who share the same disability, and the training the teachers have in teaching children with these impairments. 

“They are able to relate to other students who have the same disabilities,” she said. “The specialization the teachers have gives the students a better experience than if they stayed in their home district.”

The students are also able to go on field trips designed for children with auditory disabilities. 

One of those field trips included a trip to go see the “Signing Santa” in Plano last year, where “Santa” uses sign language to communicate what the children want for Christmas. 

“It was a really cool experience,” she said.

McDonald said by housing the program in Greenville, they are able to meet with the students on a one-on-one basis, which helps a child develop not only their language skills, but it also flows into their other classes as well.

“I’m glad to have it here because we’re ensuring kids get the education they need,” she said.

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