“Some might have some personal experience with deafness within their own family or in their school environment, they may have worked with a child who is deaf or hard of hearing and want to know more about how to help those children with a hearing loss.
“Other teachers come because they do have an interest in speech and language and they really want to improve their understanding in that space.
“Other teachers might have heard about it from somebody else or they may have had a visiting teacher come into their school who is working with children with hearing loss and that’s how their interest has been sparked.”
And while every teacher’s reasons and interests may be different, students who choose to pursue studies around hearing impairment conclude their qualifications with an in-depth understanding of how they can help students with hearing impairment better communicate and connect with the world around them.
Students also gain a better understanding of the entwined relationship between literacy and communication.
It was this link that provoked Klieve’s interest in working with young children with hearing impairment.
“When I first chose to go into the field it was because I had such a strong interest in language and literacy and I really wanted to know more about those children that may have had more difficulty accessing both language and literacy and how to assist them to reach their full potential.
“Often with hearing loss it’s about access, so [we’re] helping to provide them with access both to the curriculum and to language and to literacy,” Klieve says.
While literacy is an important component, the course also prepares teachers to better understand the technical equipment and information which is vital to fully understanding the needs of students.
Context too is important, with one focus of the course being an exploration of language development from babies through to adolescents.
“…So looking at how hearing loss impacts both language developments and literacy developments,” Klieve says.
It’s essential for teachers to also be prepared for all of the variables and challenges which arise in any classroom, particularly classrooms including children with hearing difficulties.
“There’s a lot of variety in the children that you may see in mainstream schools or in schools for the deaf, including different kinds of hearing loss.
“Right from mild to profound and different types of technical equipment that they might utilise to give themselves access to spoken language, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, as well as those children whose families have chosen for them to communicate via a visual language, via sign language,” Klieve says.
For those teachers who are interested in pursuing the University of Melbourne’s Master of Learning Intervention (Hearing Impair-ment) studies, the course is also offered part-time over two years to cater to busy educators.
“A lot of teachers who are working full-time choose to study part-time, just so they can manage their studies and teaching because we know that teaching is a demanding profession,” Klieve says.