colonial intermediate unit 20

The Itinerant Hearing Support program serves children and their families in Northampton, Monroe, and Pike counties, providing special education services in the areas of expressive and receptive language, auditory skills, speechreading, and self-advocacy.

  • The hearing support program has a child centered philosophy for educating deaf and hard of hearing students. A variety of educational approaches and strategies are utilized and individualized according to each student’s needs. This philosophy promotes effective and independent communication.
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '04) defines two terms related to hearing acuity: Deafness and Hearing Impairment. According to IDEA 2004, Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that it adversely affects a child's educational performance. Hearing impairment means impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness.
  • Children with even a mild hearing loss may experience problems in the following areas: hearing faint or distant speech (more than 25% of classroom instruction could be missed); hearing subtle conversational cues that could cause a child to react inappropriately; following fast-paced verbal exchanges; and hearing the fine word-sound distinctions that denote plurality, tense, possessives, etc. In addition, a child with a minimal hearing loss may appear immature and become more fatigued than normal-hearing classmates because of the extra effort needed to hear. In fact, when teachers or parents notice attention and behavior problems, they often do not even consider hearing loss as a possible source of a child’s problem.


  • Colonial IU 20 provides services to eligible deaf or hard of hearing children within the regular educational setting, or in one of the three deaf and hard of hearing classrooms within the intermediate unit boundaries. Placement is determined by the student’s needs and is recommended by the IEP team. Many of the students in both settings have FM Systems which improve the signal to noise ratio, thus enhancing the listening environment.
  • Deaf and hard of hearing classrooms are provided at three levels: elementary, middle school and the high school/vocational-technical school. Each classroom is staffed with a classroom teacher as well as an associate teacher and/or an associate specialist. All individuals in the classroom setting have received training in sign language communication and interpretation. All three classrooms are committed to the total communication approach to instruction. This means all instruction is communicated through both sign and verbal direction. Students are instructed through the use of a modified regular education curriculum.
  • When students demonstrate a level of proficiency that enables them to successfully complete regular classroom work, they may be integrated into the mainstream of a regular education program. Students eligible for this program include those that have a hearing loss ranging from mild to profound. The students’ hearing loss has a negative impact on their educational performance and requires specially designed instruction.
  • Itinerant hearing support teachers possess knowledge of deaf culture and signing skills necessary to instruct and communicate with deaf and hard of hearing students. They assist in the identification of students thought to be at risk and seek appropriate support and involvement of resource personnel to enhance instruction and student welfare. Hearing support teachers assess students referred for hearing evaluations. Comprehensive evaluations include assessments in the areas of expressive and receptive language, auditory skills, speechreading, and self-advocacy.
  • They also inventory and investigate the students' academic profile data. Hearing support teachers provide input for Evaluation Reports (ER) and when appropriate, monitor the ER process, develop and write the ER. Hearing support teachers actively participate on multidisciplinary teams in the multidisciplinary evaluations, and they assist in the development and implementation of various instructional techniques to meet the students' goals, objectives, individual needs, interests and abilities.
  • Hearing support teachers assist with the creation of environments that are conducive to learning and appropriate for the levels and interests of the students. Hearing Support teachers receive training, as appropriate, to work with students who have cochlear implants and the need for assistive technology.

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