Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Program Features

On-Site Audiological Services

The program strives to identify and educate children with hearing losses at the earliest age. A full-time and a part-time audiologist evaluate children referred by various sources including local hospitals’ Infant Hearing Screening program, Berrien County Health Department, parents, physicians, and schools. Personal hearing aids and cochlear implants are monitored for peak performance. Personal FM systems are provided for enhanced auditory input while in school.

Placement Options

The Berrien Springs Hearing Impaired Program serves auditory/oral Berrien County hearing impaired students from birth through high school graduation. In addition, Cass and Van Buren counties contract services for some students. Families desiring a total communication (speaking, listening, and sign language) program for students who use sign language as part of their communication, have other local options available.

Parents receive written descriptions and talk with professionals about the local programming. They are encouraged to visit students in those settings and may talk with other parents about the choices. The placement is not based on anyone facet, such as the hearing ability, but on several areas, including the wishes of the family. Michigan School for the Deaf/Blind is also a consideration.

Classes and Services

Teachers are fully certified as teachers of the hearing impaired by the State of Michigan. The students have educationally significant hearing losses and are eligible for special education (hearing impaired) services. Speech and language services are provided by the teachers of hearing impaired and/or speech-language therapists.

Other ancillary, consultant, or classroom services such as physical or occupational therapy and other special education services are available to students who qualify.

Educational services available for deaf and hard of hearing children include:

  • Infant-Toddler Services: Babies are seen individually by a teacher for the hearing impaired 1-2 times weekly as outlined in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). Since parent involvement is such an integral part of the program, teachers and parents work together to develop the foundational skills, usually in the child’s home.
  • Preschool: Preschoolers attend school for either half or full-day sessions. The preschool class focuses on listening, speech, vocabulary and language development, social skills, and standard pre-academic skills.
  • Elementary: Students spend part of their time in self-contained classes with a teacher for the hearing impaired. In addition to building communication skills, the children work on appropriate academics from the general education curriculum. Opportunities for socialization with general education students happen in elective and academic classes, recess, lunch, field trips, parties, and assemblies.
  • Secondary: Classes are held in the middle school. Students participate both in general education and hearing impaired classes, meeting the state and local requirements for high school graduation. High School students have vocational opportunities with shared-time programs, individual vocational training, and work study programs.
  • Home district: Full-time inclusion in the student’s local district with hearing impaired teacher consultant support is available. Services include hearing management and academic support. Speech-language therapists and others may be included in the child’s education program as warranted.

Staff

Lorren Wiedemann
DHH Coordinator/Speech Pathologist

Regina Gast
Secretary, Special Education/DHH

Cathy Kuntz
Secretary, The Hearing Center

Lynn Schafer and Sarah Kourtijian
Educational Audiologists

Kelly Fortune
Teacher Consultant

Melissa Stankevich
DHH Preschool Teacher

KeriAnn Wishart
Mars Elementary Teacher

Charis Bushey
Paraprofessional