Core English language proficiency is the key to the academic and social success of our students. Signing Exact English (S.E.E.) provides a vital visual bridge that research indicates is critical to help most students with cochlear implants and hearing aids develop functional listening and spoken language skills. As a result, teaching our students to communicate in clear, complete English sentences, using their best speech and listening, forms the core of our communication model at Northwest School for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Children (NWSDHH). Based on a one-of-a-kind academic program developed by our founders—Karen Appelman and Judy Callahan with Dr. Sheila Lowenbraun—and detailed in their textbook Teaching the Hearing-Impaired Through Total Communication, we ensure strong communication skills through:
Signing Exact English (S.E.E.): We teach our students using an exact manual model of spoken English. This reinforces listening skills in addition to the use of grammatically correct speaking and writing, and strengthens reading comprehension. It also facilitates the transition into general education classrooms, as our students gain full proficiency in the language structure of hearing society.
Spoken Language and Listening: Speech and listening skills are always a focus at NWSDHH. Students have daily individual speech instruction. Everyone is expected to use their best speech in all communication throughout the day. Data taken daily is used to guide individual and group instruction.
We work collaboratively with school districts, parents/guardians and area professionals to obtain the best personal assistive listening devices and FM systems for each child. All students receive listening checks twice a day to make sure that their equipment is working properly. Individualized strategies encourage students to use their listening skills in every conversation or lesson. Each student participates in daily one-on-one auditory learning activities designed to assist them in learning to maximize their use of their personal amplification.
Simultaneous Communication: Our students and teachers speak and sign English concurrently. Apart from teaching strong speaking, listening and signing skills, students learn correct English sentence structure—the foundation for reaching and maintaining grade-level reading and writing skills.
Again Technique: To reinforce correct grammatical speaking and signing we use the “Again Technique” to help students orally and visually practice using correct grammatical structure and speech.