VOICE asks for an investment in future of children with hearing loss

TORONTO, May 20, 2014 /CNW/ - May 15, 2014 marks the 50th year that VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children (VOICE) has been supporting Canadian families of children with hearing loss so they might learn to hear, listen and speak.  Started as a small parent advocacy group in Toronto, VOICE has grown into a national organization advocating for thousands of children with hearing loss. 

VOICE has something to say –

Consider the economic impact on Ontario's budget if persons who are Deaf do not rely on the Ontario Disability Program.  An investment in the future of children with hearing loss will assure improved future economic realities.  BUT our elected ONTARIO POLITICIANS MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION! 

We challenge the Government of Ontario to make a REAL DIFFERENCE for children and families, and to provide the funding and mandate for increased access to Teachers of the Deaf, Audiologists, and Speech-Language Pathologists in Ontario's schools.  While the average family might not notice a difference, this next Government in Ontario will be the hero for children with hearing loss.

"We need to put CHILDREN FIRST, and have resources to meet their needs.  If we do that, we will truly become a better society.  Parents should not have to spend their time fighting to get their child the necessary supports.  The lack of specific and dedicated funding for students with hearing loss has put parents and school boards in adversarial positions - spending needless time bickering about services rather than providing needed supports.  There is no equality in this province.  While it is nice to allow for regional variations, that should not mean that some kids go without the supports that are necessary just because they live in an area that has historically chosen not to provide that service.  We need the Government of Ontario to step up to the plate, specify the types of resources needed in EVERY Ontario School Board and to provide long term, consistent, dedicated funding to cover salaries and resources. Funding only the 'average' kid does not help to build a better Ontario or a better future."

Vickie Hlady-MacDonald
Speech & Language Pathologist/ Auditory Verbal Therapist


Provincial School programs are primarily supporting children who use manual sign language approaches - children who are deaf and use spoken language are integrated into their community schools and are supported in many school boards by Itinerant Teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing or Speech and Language Pathologists who have additional training in the field of hearing loss. Many school boards are cutting the support for Teachers of the Deaf.

It costs in excess of $100,000.00 per year for a student to attend a Provincial School.  No such equivalent funding is provided for students who are integrated into their community schools.

The major issue for many boards is poor basic funding and dealing with cuts to resources due to declining enrollment.  Smaller rural boards are all dealing with similar situations; either they are reducing the service of teachers of the deaf, or this service does not exist.  The bigger issue is how the Ministry of Education is designating funding, and also not specifying that certain services must be provided (Teachers of the Deaf, Speech Language Pathologists, Educational Audiologists).  Instead, school boards are choosing to provide for the needs of students by hiring Educational Assistants (Ea's)-many of whom have minimal training in special education.  These individuals are largely responsible for creating and delivering programs to students with significant needs.  Classroom teachers and special education resource teachers are trying their best to develop plans for the EAs to follow, but without regular input from a hearing resource professional that is knowledgeable about auditory oral approaches, the result is minimal progress for students.  They want to do the right thing, and they have good intentions, but this is not sufficient.  The boards have the support staff model backwards.  All school boards need to have the professional supports first, so that appropriate programs can be developed and implemented under the direction of a regulated health professional in consultation with a certified teacher.  Following this, an EA can be provided with the appropriate materials and resources to support the program (not create it on their own). The schools are caught in the middle of a crisis, and there are serious issues for many students and families.

About VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children

VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children (VOICE) has been advocating on behalf of children with hearing disabilities in Canada for the past 50 years. Established in the early '60s by a group of Toronto parents, VOICE offers support to families with children who are deaf and hard of hearing. VOICE provides families with parent support, public education programs, advocacy for the rights of children with hearing loss and auditory verbal therapy so that the kids can learn to hear listen and speak.

As a registered Canadian charity, VOICE has thrived over the years and has developed into one of the largest parent support organizations for families of children with hearing loss in Canada.

We invite you to visit www.voicefordeafkids.com

SOURCE: VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children

For further information: VOICE Contacts: Ms. Norah-Lynn McIntyre, Executive Director, nlmcintyre@voicefordeafkids.com; Ms. Rhonda Quesnel, C. Psychological Associate, rhonda.quesnel@wearcheck.com; Ms. Vickie Hlady-MacDonald, Speech & Language Pathologist/ Auditory Verbal Therapist, vhladymac@gmail.com


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