Around 14 million Americans today suffer from hearing loss to a certain degree, and this interferes whenever they communicate with other people. The week of Sept 21-28 has been designated Deaf Awareness Week and the counselor for the East Harris County coop for the deaf will be helping to make the week a success. This kind counselor spends time with hearing impaired kids in some schools in that area. Not everybody knows that she is armed with a bachelor of science degree in the field of educating both hearing and hearing impaired individuals, along with a master's degree in counseling which boasts of a special education certification.

The coop is designed to provide quality education for auditory handicapped students ages 0 to 21, she said. Another lady is tasked to oversee the quality of work produced by reading specialists in interpreting and diagnosing, advisors, guidance counselors and speech pathologists all of whom are part of the coop. She recounts that they work hand in hand like a team.

But she adds that the other teachers from different schools are also valuable. They have been duly rehearsed when it comes to teaching kids with hearing difficulties and they also make use of aides to guide them. It is very essential for all hearing impaired students to know what this program can do for them so that they can address their concerns no matter what degree of deafness they are suffering from. She thinks of creative measures under the total communication philosophy right after she diagnoses the needs of her students and this would include activities from speech, speech reading, auditory training, reading, skimming, sign language, gestures, spelling with the fingers, pantomimes and skits, even all the way to body language.

It is also vital, for the success of the program, to work closely with the families of these children with hearing problems. The parents must always prioritize communicating effectively with the children while understanding what hearing impairment is all about. The program also enables parents to learn sign language as they foster a speech and language lesson suitable for the people at home. The center created the Deaf Awareness Week to enable children with hearing problems take pride of their being.

If they do not see such problems as a handicap, then it really is not one. Deafness is just a small facet of them so we must look at them as children first. While these are so hard, I still hope to make great changes, she avers.

She will also let you in on the contraptions especially made for the deaf. They will be talking about hearing aid devices and how to take care of them, and other alternatives to hearing for the deaf. The hearing impaired can now hear through sign language.

Isn't sign language just amazing? I tell the kids it is a definite advantage when you're eating and your mouth is full, and you can still communicate, she said. A flashing light on telephones and fire alarms and closed caption TV sets are some of the paraphernalia in training the deaf to communicate.

Through the entire Deaf Awareness Week, the library of the local municipality will showcase books and bulletin boards in honor of this week. Being able to work with someone who is hearing impaired, the municipal library staff holds the Deaf Awareness Week in high esteem. Right after she got diagnosed to have a disease called spinal meningitis, she lost her hearing completely.

She opened up about how, back when she was in Washington, spinal meningitis made her lose her hearing. For 30 years, I was able to hear well, but all of a sudden that has vanished. She said, I did not know how I would manage without my sense of hearing and this made me so afraid.

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