While cochlear implants have been giving deaf people the gift of hearing for over 20 years, training to help teachers, parents and carers of children with the devices has been neglected.
Now The University of Nottingham has teamed up with The Ear Foundation to promote understanding and improve learning opportunities for children living with the life-changing technology.
The JISC / HEA funded ‘Promoting Academic Resources in Society’ (PARiS) project, will increase the number of Open Educational Resources (OER) available to help children with an implant to communicate and develop spoken language.
With over 80,000 people fitted with cochlear implants worldwide, demand for the Ear Foundation’s education programme inevitably outstrips the available resources. But it is hoped that the new online modules will help the foundation to support more teachers and carers of deaf students, as well as the wider mainstream teaching community.
Chief Executive of the Ear Foundation, Sue Archbold, explained that the collaboration had been welcomed by teachers of the deaf, who have identified a need for resources to help train teaching assistants.
She said: “Deafness in childhood and adulthood has a devastating effect on language and communication developments. Today we have the best possible hearing technologies such as cochlear implants which have transformed the opportunities for deaf children. However, with more deaf children going to mainstream schools there is an urgent need for information as to how to maximise the benefits in teaching. These online resources will help thousands of children and their families all around the world.”
By providing OER and creative commons licensing expertise, the University’s collaboration with the Ear Foundation perfectly reflects its social responsibility objectives, and in particular the promotion and support of education in its many forms.
The University’s PARiS Project Manager at the University, Steve Stapleton explained: “This project hopefully marks the start of a number of collaborations with the Ear Foundation. They are a locally based charity delivering real value both nationally and internationally.
“The service that they provide improves the lives and opportunities for children and their families, and the resources that are being made available will extend this even further. We are extremely happy to be supporting the Foundation in the expansion of its educational provision and have learned a lot from working with them.”
Free for anybody to use, the resources include: an overview of cochlear implantation; the impact of deafness on communication and language; the challenges of using technology at home and school; maximising the benefit of the technology in education; monitoring progress and the family role in language learning.
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The Ear Foundation: The Ear Foundation brought cochlear implants for children to the UK in 1989; now the majority of profoundly deaf children can hear and develop spoken language. The Ear Foundation now bridges the gap between the clinical services and home and school where they are used but providing a family support and information programme, an education programme, and research programme.
The charity works nationally and internationally, reaching over 1,000 families and 3,000 professionals per year, and many more through its website. Recently, The Ear Foundation was presented with the Queens Award for voluntary services, the equivalent of the MBE for charities, recognising the calibre of its work. For more information, please visit the Ear Foundation website at: http://www.earfoundation.org.uk/index.php