An Internet learning program, iHear, providing speech and language therapy for children with hearing impairments, has been launched by the St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf (SJI), an institution with a 175-year history of innovation in deaf education. This is the world's first e-learning program created with optimum security measures to ensure privacy and compliance with federal HIPAA regulations and educational FERPA regulations.
"iHear gives families in rural areas the choice to pursue their child's development of auditory and speech skills without the burdens of extensive travel and cost," says Deborah Wilson, president of SJI. "This access to spoken-language therapy opens the doors for children with hearing impairments to remain on grade level with their peers in a traditional school environment, allowing them to develop the necessary communication skills for independence into adulthood."
According to SJI, students and their families are already witnessing the benefits of iHear's effectiveness. In trials, all of the eligible children using iHear, ages
£6 years, have increased their standardized test scores after 6 to 12 months of therapy.
The platform's comprehensive, personalized teaching program allows children with a range of hearing impairments–from cochlear implant recipients to hearing aid users–to work one-on-one with SJI-trained listening and spoken language specialists through Web cameras and integrated online, interactive, digital lesson plans. Through ongoing assessment and evaluation, therapists can identify and implement individualized best practices for each student to close age-level language development gaps.
Essential to the program's success is its collaborative coaching model in which a parent or educator serves as a co-participant in each iHear session. Tips and exercises used during therapy then can be reinforced between sessions to help strengthen the child's hearing and speech.
The iHear program can also significantly impact the ability of mainstream schools to serve children with hearing impairments. Its collaborative coaching model can help stabilize special education staffing from year-to-year, particularly in areas where the availability of professionals trained in developing language skills through listening is limited.
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