Quality of Care
In "Hearing Aid Help," a recent letter to The ASHA Leader by Beverly Rosenstein (April 3), the writer wants to be "honestly assured that the hearing aids...will deliver speech that is...clearly intelligible." But it would be unprofessional for any audiologist to give that assurance, since, as noted by the editor, the amplified speech is being perceived and processed by a damaged auditory system. A person with hearing loss who understands only 44% of words on a word recognition test will not always perceive speech as "clearly intelligible," regardless of the quality and nature of the amplifying system. What an audiologist can strive for is to ensure that the person with hearing loss is hearing as well as possible. Reaching that goal requires a good diagnostic evaluation, professional counseling, appropriate hearing aid fitting, and a comprehensive follow-up care program.
Furthermore, I wonder if the writer did, indeed, see an audiologist, since she refers to her hearing care provider as a "supplier" and a "purveyor" of hearing aids. Most audiologists consider themselves providers of professional hearing care, not "suppliers" or "purveyors," and would likely take offense at those terms, as I do. As an ASHA-certified and licensed audiologist, my primary concern is quality care for individuals with hearing loss.
White Plains, New York
Core Commitment Concerns
I am deeply disturbed after reading "Core Commitment" in the April 3 ASHA Leader, and seeing ASHA's uncritical acceptance of the statement that disability accommodations, including IEPs, are supposed "to facilitate a student's attainment of grade-level academic standards." Is ASHA aware of the partisan politics surrounding these mandates, or the lunacy of declaring that all children, with the help of an IEP and a teacher held "accountable" to core standards, can achieve grade-level academics?
May I introduce you to my students with profound communication disabilities? These kids may never achieve "grade level," but that does not mean they are not learning or being challenged. The purpose of special education, and IEPs in particular, is to create individual education programs based on the needs of the student. Each plan considers curriculum standards appropriate for that student, but that does not mean expecting grade-level academics from students with profound disabilities. That's not just unreasonable; it's downright mean.
Students with disabilities learn differently and at different speeds. They deserve to be educated as individuals, not as data-points in our test-crazy quest for the educational master race. Uncritical acceptance of the "core standards" dogma leads to labeling these children as failures if they do not achieve grade level. It is the antithesis of individualized education, and it is wrong.
ASHA should be advocating against unrealistic educational policies that label our most vulnerable clients as failures because of their disabilities—not mindlessly validating those dangerous policies in our professional literature.
*Editor's note: The reader raises important concerns about how the Common Core State Standards apply to students with severe disabilities. The authors plan to address these and similar issues in a subsequent article.