EPISD celebrates Deaf Awareness Month
EPISD hopes to highlight the services and resources available to the region’s deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their families during September for Deaf Awareness Month.
EPISD through the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf (RDSPD) provides services for nearly 200 students with hearing loss from infants up to 21 years old.
“We have lots of different service models for our students depending on what their need is,” RDSPD facilitator Jason Lilly said. “Besides RDSPD, we have the Listening and Spoken Language at Bonham. We also have an itinerant program, where the teacher goes to the home campus and serves the kids.”
The Total Communication program at Ross Middle School focuses on listening and speaking and teaching students Signing Exact English (SEE) and American Sign Language (ASL).
Students have been taking ownership of their learning by engaging the community through social media. The Ross students videotape and tweet a “Sign of the Day” to teach the community how to sign.
“My goal is to open the lines of communication because I know the barriers our students face and how they have a difficult time communicating with other people,” said teacher Luz Acosta, who brought the idea to the students. “We are here 170 days so my goal is for everyone to learn 170 signs throughout the school year.”
Sign-language interpreter Adriana Nuñez has already noticed a difference in the students.
“It has really helped their confidence,” Nuñez said. “They are more involved in what they are learning because they are showing other students how they communicate through sign language.”
Seventh-grader Joshua Rangel encourages others on campus to sign.
“I think it’s good,” Rangel said. “I like teaching other people to learn to sign.”
Classmate Eduardo Puga also enjoys creating the daily videos.
“I would like it if other students at Ross to learned to sign,” Puga said. “It would make me feel really good. I’m excited to teach others sign language.”
At Burges High School, seniors are designing their own deaf awareness t-shirts to fundraise for the Texas Celebration in Dallas.
“They can meet deaf artisans from across the state,” Lilly said. “These are painters, sculptors, graphic designers they can meet and possibly get internships with.”
Lilly wants the community to take advantage of the programming available at the Hillside, Ross and Burges feeder pattern.
“Those three campuses serve 15 districts in three counties,” Lilly said. “I want visibility so parents know where they can get information. If they aren’t in school with us, they aren’t getting access to it and all that we offer.
To attend the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf, students must be identified as having hearing loss by an otolaryngology and an audiologist in the state of Texas.
“My hope is that parents will learn about identification,” Lilly said.
He recommends parents consider testing if their child does not respond to sounds that would make them turn their head or moving towards the noise.
“If a child is school-aged, we do play-based or have our diagnostician test them to see what cognitive levels they have to identify what services they need,” Lilly said.
Other programs EPISD offers through the RDSPD:
- Monthly parent meetings to discuss District initiatives and services.
- Monthly lunch series for middle and high school students with a variety of topics including preparing for college.
- Free sign language classes for parent and community members from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday at Hillside Elementary School.
For information on the Regional Day School Program, click here.