hearing & audiology services
What is Hearing Support?
Hearing Support is a related service providing quality educational support by a certified Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (ToD). The MCIU offers hearing support services for children aged 3-21. A ToD travels to school buildings to provide services such as direct instruction to students and consults with school personnel. Teachers will support various communication modalities. The ToD will also focus on instruction related to the expanded core curriculum (ECC) to support students who have hearing loss, are deaf-blind, and those with additional disabilities.
Who is Eligible for Hearing Services?
A student is eligible for hearing support services as a result of a comprehensive evaluation process including a Functional Hearing Evaluation (FHE) that documents a hearing loss that adversely affects their educational performance. This evaluation process may also include screenings or additional testing within the areas of Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).
What are Audiological Services?
The Montgomery County Intermediate Unit provides audiologic testing, consultation, and amplification services. Audiologic screenings are provided for children ages 3-5 years old through our Early Intervention program. Audiologic evaluations and auditory processing evaluations for school-aged students are also performed through a school district referral. Loaner technology including personal DM systems, FM systems and hearing aids are available to students. Educational Audiologists can also act as liaison between the student’s Clinical Audiologist and educational team in order to assist in determining which technology is most beneficial for use in the educational environment.
How to refer students for hearing and/or audiology
Students are referred for a Functional Hearing Evaluation to determine eligibility by their local school district. All school age referrals should include the MCIU referral form, the student’s current IEP and ER/RR (if applicable) and an audiological report. Hearing and/or Audiological services can be requested by a school district by submitting MCIU referral form and including the student’s IEP, current ER/RR, and audiological report. Audiological and Auditory Processing Evaluations are also available at the school district’s request.
Children who are of Early Intervention age (3-5) can find more information in the Office of Early Childhood Services.
Hearing & Audiology Support Services
Per district request, a comprehensive hearing test will be conducted at MCIU. An audiological report will be provided to the district. Children who are 3-5 may receive screenings through the early intervention program.
Auditory Processing Evaluation/Consultation
Audiologist will conduct a record review, classroom observation, and formal testing for children who meet the minimum age requirement of 7. A report will be provided to the district. Additional services are available per request.
Audiological Screening Services
Services of an Educational Audiologist are available from MCIU to conduct hearing screenings for children who are unable to participate in traditional behavioral testing conducted by a school nurse. Students can be assessed by an audiologist using alternative testing procedures such as conditioned play audiometry or electrophysiological measurements.
Audiological Services- Direct/Consult
Services of an Educational Audiologist available from MCIU to support students who utilize technology (hearing aids, cochlear implants, personal FM/DM systems, classroom soundfield systems) per their IEP. Services include: troubleshooting technology, consult with clinical audiologist and educational team, minor in-house repair, in warranty hearing aid service/repair, earmold impressions, loaner hearing aid fittings, sound level measurements for classrooms, purchasing and service/repair of district owned equipment.
Audiometer Calibration Program
Annual mandatory calibration of district owned audiometers is conducted during the summer.
Classroom Acoustic Measurements
Since classroom instruction is primarily verbal, an appropriate acoustic classroom environment is important for all students, but particularly for those students with hearing impairment. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) established national standards for classroom acoustics in 2002. The MCIU educational audiologist can perform field-testing of noise levels and reverberation present in district classrooms to determine if ANSI standards are met. Following these measurements, the MCIU audiologist can perform a site analysis and provide acoustic recommendations to the district for reduction of background noise and reverberation.
FM SETT Meeting/Consultation
FM system consultation is provided as part of hearing support services for those students who are eligible for hearing support. However, school districts may elect to proceed with an FM system trial period for students who have normal hearing, or hearing impaired students who do not qualify for hearing support services. Services of a hearing support teacher or educational audiologist available from the MCIU to support a student’s FM use.
Functional Hearing Evaluation
An evaluation conducted by a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing to determine eligibility for Hearing Services.
Hearing Impaired Itinerant- Direct and Consultative Services
Hearing Services are provided per the student’s IEP. Direct services (individual/group) are provided by a ToD to address educational goals and needs specified within the students’ IEPs. Consultative services are provided by a ToD as a support to school personnel and may include monitoring and troubleshooting technology, accommodations and modifications per the students’ IEP or 504 plan.
Children’s Hearing Center
The Children’s Hearing Center will dispense the following equipment: hearing aids and direct microphone (formerly FM) systems, earmolds, and batteries. In addition, hearing aids and direct microphone systems will be repaired through the Center.
Jill Christopher is a Program Administrator for the Hearing and Vision Programs at MCIU. Her career began as a Teacher of the Deaf after receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Bloomsburg University and a Master’s degree in Deaf Education from Boston University. She spent 16 years as a teacher working with students of many ages (birth-21) using multiple communication modes (ASL/Bilingual-Bicultural to Listening and Spoken Language) and in various educational programs (Schools for the Deaf, Intermediate Unit classrooms, district mainstream).
She transitioned into Administration in 2016 and received her Special Education Supervisory Certificate from Penn State University. Jill co-chairs MCIU’s Deaf-Blind Resource Team (DBRT) which began in 2019 when MCIU was selected to participate in Pennsylvania’s Deaf-Blind Project. She is grateful for the opportunity to lead MCIU’s Hearing and Vision Programs and honored to work with an exceptional team of professionals who love working with children and share her passion of promoting and ensuring all students have access and resources to succeed in their educational environments.