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Grant Will Help Close Achievement Gap

January 24, 2012

Grant Will Help Close Achievement Gap

Last year, due to grant funding, the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency (AEA) was able to pilot technology which enhanced language to hearing impaired students. The pilot was such a success the Mississippi Bend AEA has decided to expand this technology to all preschool aged identified hearing impaired students (ages 1-6) who have hearing aids or cochlear implants. A grant in the amount of $14,256, from the Scott County Regional Authority, will help do this. The grant will assist seven deaf and hard of hearing students at home and in the classroom – helping to close the achievement gap between them and normal hearing students. This grant in combination with last year’s grant and additional department funds will reach a total of 19 deaf and hard of hearing students with FM technology.

When hearing impaired students are fitted with either hearing aids or cochlear implants, they typically do not have access to additional technology to support their hearing needs. Parents usually cannot afford to purchase this equipment and educational institutions do not allow this technology to leave the buildings. The Mississippi Bend AEA will use the grant money to purchase equipment to be used in connection with hearing aids and cochlear implants, which will increase their access to devices such as; computers, cell phones, iPods/iPads and other technology which normal hearing students do not have difficulty with. Most classrooms have background noise that competes with the teacher or device (i.e. others talking, paper shuffling, other electronics, ventilation systems, outside traffic or construction, and hallway noise). This background noise can make hearing very challenging for people with hearing aids or cochlear implants. The technology being purchased will allow sound to be transmitted directly to the hearing aid or cochlear implant so the background noise is less prominent.

Introduction of language is critical in the early preschool years and is the key to all academic success. Without the technology to access language, preschools and parents are constantly playing catch up with their deaf and hard of hearing children. Having the opportunity to expand this project will forever change the lives of these young children. 

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