Adelaide High School was established in 1908 to become the first free high school in South Australia. Today, it includes a Centre for Hearing Impaired students (CHI), created by the DECS (Department of Education and Children’s Services) in the 1980’s.
The only requirements demanded to integrate Adelaide High School CHI are to have hearing aids in both ears and significant needs arising from hearing impairment, whatever is your language. And to pay the enrolment fees, which are between 600 and 700 AU$ a year.
The CHI being a statewide facility though, it can welcome only up to 20 students, and they must be referred by the School Psychologist for hearing impairment. But they don’t have too many applicants than what they can, as some hearing-impaired students decide to go to their local high school instead to apply to Adelaide High School. However, they will still have a teacher for the deaf coming for them, or Coordinators of Hearing Impairment, coming to schools to help subject teachers to work with the hearing impaired students.
The CHI uses with hearing-impaired students the communication mode as outlined in the Negotiated Education Plan (NEP) established by South Australia’s government , which includes oral, Auslan and total communication. Its purpose is the total communication, but with the teacher’s adaptation to the student’s chosen way of communication.
The CHI’s main aims is to support each hearing-impaired student to develop a positive self-concept, to integrate him in mainstream classes among his hearing peers with suitable education, and setting and maintaining for him an appropriate level of achievement within this class.
To reach these goals, the CHI offers the followings services to the students :
– a teacher for the Deaf supports individually CHI students in class, and tutors them after courses if needed. He also discusses hearing loss and its effects with subject teachers to make them aware of the specifics needs of the hearing-impaired student.
– the CHI staff uses Auslan, Oral or total communication in accordance with the student’s choice, and helps him to manage and maintain his hearing aids – or his cochlear implant when he has got one – and the hearing loops. The staff also takes an active role in partnership with subject teachers, in modifying curriculum and assessments requirements in line with the Negotiated Education Plan of each student.
To be able to manage these services, the CHI staff comprises four teachers for the Deaf who are bilingual Auslan / English and an Auslan interpreter. An audiologist from Australian Hearing comes also in to check the hearing aids once a term, i.e. four times a year. There is no speech therapist within the CHI, but some students follow a speech therapy outside the high school.
This supervision allows all students – currently there are 17 of them – to be supported individually, and to always have a teacher or an interpreter with them during courses, according to their chosen way of communication. Five of them use Auslan, and the others oral or total communication. Five of them also have got a cochlear implant.
Each student generates 0,25 teacher of the Deaf to fulfil his needs, so 17 students involves 4,25 teachers for the deaf.
The Negotiated Education Plan is an agreement built by the student’s parents, his school teachers, the CHI and the student himself. It sets out the background information, strengths and needs of the student, and his learning goals. Thus, its purpose is to develop an appropriate curriculum for the concerned student, based on the South Australian Curriculum Standards Accountability (SACSA) framework, and to plot a pathway for his future – whether it would be university, Technical And Further Education (TAFE) or workforce.
The transition towards tertiary education is then already evoked in the NEP, and starts half-way through Year 12, the last in high school, where students apply to the SATAC (South Australia Tertiary Admittance) for university or TAFE. Their admittance depends on their results during Year 12, so that hearing impaired students can target in the NEP the courses they want to achieve first and the essential skills to be gained, to become able to integrate tertiary education.
Last year, four hearing-impaired students were admitted to university, where they study now, with the support of note-takers and Auslan interpreters, funded by the South Australian government.
Apart from the CHI, the Adelaide High School also promotes an active integration of hearing impaired students who have access to exactly the same curriculum offerings and activities than their hearing peers. Hearing students and subject teachers are also offered Auslan courses twice a week if they wish to learn this language. This leads to a general warm atmosphere and friendly relationships between hearing impaired and hearing students and both staffs.
Here, hearing impaired and hearing students mix harmoniously under school and CHI supervision to grow up happily in young adults, open-minded and ready for their future in tertiary education. This integration was a great challenge that the CHI and Adelaide High School took up beautifully, thanks to the South Australian governmental funding.
Interview with the CHI Coordinator, Mary O’Donnell
For further information :
Adelaide High School