The school promotes a multi-agency approach and peripatetic teachers for Hearing-Impaired pupils are part of the team. Pupils have varying types and degrees of hearing loss and twelve pupils have a permanent dual sensory impairment.
The idea for a tactile audiogram developed from the increasing need for deafblind children to have access to information. Observing children in their lessons, I saw other tactile resources used, eg raised maps in history, showing the routes of armies across Europe and graphs in maths. This impressed me. I was already using a smiley face reward sheet for hearing aid battery checks and hearing aid care using `Wikki Stix' and I saw the potential of `swell paper'.
At Annual Reviews, in my role as the peripatetic ToD, I explain to families and other professionals the `shape' of the pupils' audiograms; what can and cannot be heard. In mainstream schools, children discuss their audiograms so they become familiar with audiological terms. How could children at Linden Lodge School become equally independent? We look at the model of the ear but the audiogram presents a problem.
The Learning Resource Department at Linden Lodge prepares resources to support teaching and learning and I discussed the idea of developing a tactile audiogram with Jane Overton, Teaching Assistant. Jane has a special interest in deafblind children, (she has the CACDP Deafblind Communicator Guide, Makaton, Braille and Moon qualifications and BSL Stage 2). Jane wanted to make the audiograms in Braille or Moon as simple as possible, yet containing all the auditory information. We discussed each child's needs and level of understanding and Jane familiarised herself with each child's audiogram.
"My hearing is in the 'moderate' section, 50 to 70 and some in the 'severe' section, 70 to 90. One hundred and twenty dB is called 'profound' and people with this hearing loss may use sign language." Once he leaves Linden Lodge School, Nathan can use the audiogram to explain to other people at college, work experience, or family and friends, about his level of hearing.
It may be that another teacher has already prepared a similar audiogram. I would like to share my experience because I have found the tactile audiogram has fulfilled its purpose, which is for able deafblind children to have greater understanding of their hearing loss. If you have children who may benefit from access to audiological information, talk to teachers in your local Visual Impairment service for help with the special techniques in the production of the audiogram. My thanks to Linden Lodge School staff and children.