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Activity Day for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

I recognize that I belong to a larger group of Deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
I can share my experience with other Deaf and hard of hearing peers. (Deaf and Hard of Hearing expanded core curriculum Personal and Cultural Identity goal)

Elementary and secondary students from School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) (SD8) joined same age peers from school districts 20, 51 and 10 at Stanley Humphries Secondary School in Castlegar for a day of activities and connection on February 1 and 2.

Angela Wallenius, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing in SD20; Amber Gamache, teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing in SD8; and Heather Young, student teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing in SD8 out of Creston held a day for elementary learners to get together on Feb 2 and a separate day for secondary student learners to get together on Feb 1.

Through group activities such as a “Jeopardy” game, board games, and ice breakers students connect with same age peers to continue learning about their hearing loss.

When students understand the physiology and equipment used to access language and curriculum in a group setting, they develop self-esteem and confidence which allow them to develop an identity and have stronger self-advocacy skills, explains Amber.

"We want our students to be successful in the classroom and in life. Often students who wear hearing aids are the only ones in their school, SD 20 and SD 8 have made it a priority for students in these rural areas to get together a couple times of year to connect and have fun. Many of these students have been getting together since kindergarten and have made friends from neighboring communities. They are welcoming and encouraging to new students." 

Students also expressed what they learned:  
“I did learn about some cool things about famous deaf people,” said David. 
“There were two famous deaf people, and one was on Sesame Street.  We also learned about the ear,” said Sawyer.

Together students work on self-advocacy skills. From the Self-Determination core curriculum, students who are personally aware and responsible have a sense of personal efficacy and growing confidence in a variety of situations. In building self-acceptance, self-esteem, and confidence, their self-advocacy skills are built. These students are able to express their needs and seek help when they need it. (B.C. Core Curriculum)

Students who are deaf and hard of hearing rely on teachers to use a transmitter to transmit spoken language into a receiver that is integrated into their hearing aid or cochlear implant. These students also rely on the teacher to repeat questions, comments and stories that peers in the class say into that transmitter. Often it is the teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing who trains the teacher in how to properly use this equipment and why it is necessary.

When these students get older, they help do the training. It is important for teachers wearing these transmitters to know when it is appropriate to use them (during a whole class lesson) and when it is important to mute the microphone (when they are speaking with a small group or student and the student who is deaf or hard of hearing is not in the group).

The student in the classroom needs to get up and remind their teacher to either turn on or turn off the microphone. This takes a lot of guts, particularly when students don’t want any attention or to be singled out in the classroom. In addition, it is important for students to have confidence and strong self-advocacy skills to give their transmitter to a guest speaker, a TTOC, a new EA, or when the class goes on a field trip. 
It is critical at school that students develop the habit of using these transmitters as they are important in real life. Students become hairdressers, work at coffee shops, attend post-secondary schools and programs. They spend their life accessing spoken language through transmitters. 
Thank you to the Creston Valley Rotary Club for paying for buses. Buses took students from Creston, Salmo and Nelson to Castlegar so SD8 students could participate. 


Elementary school children standing in a classroom with winter jackets, boots and toques on, making faces, smiling, watching.