Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Introduces Online Version of its Parent Advocacy Training Program

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The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) today announced the availability of a new online version of its acclaimed Parent Advocacy Training (P.A.T.) program. P.A.T. is designed to help guide parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in working with school districts to ensure their child’s educational goals and needs are met.

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) today announced the availability of a new online version of its acclaimed Parent Advocacy Training (P.A.T.) program. P.A.T. is designed to help guide parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing in working with school districts to ensure their child’s educational goals and needs are met.

Established in 1890, AG Bell is a national nonprofit association that advocates on behalf of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing who use hearing technology and spoken language to communicate. Its members include children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing, and the families and professionals who support them.

Enacted in 1975, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to meet the needs of children with disabilities. Part of the process for meeting those needs involves the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each child who requires classroom accommodations. For children who are deaf or hard of hearing who listen and talk, these accommodations may include the use of FM systems, computer-assisted real-time captioning, a notetaker, or other services. The IEP requires agreement from two parties – the parents and the child’s school district. P.A.T. is designed to help parents build the knowledge and confidence they need to negotiate and advocate on behalf of their child with his or her school district, and provides an understanding of the legal framework to better prepare parents for the process for creating the IEP and their rights under the IDEA and the school district’s rights and responsibilities.

“In today’s early intervention and pre-K through 12th grade public school environment, children with hearing loss who use listening and spoken language are often not provided with appropriate accommodations to achieve their potential,” said AG Bell President Kathleen Treni, who is the principal of the Hearing Impaired Programs of Bergen County Special Services District in New Jersey. Treni was born deaf and grew up in a mainstream educational environment. “Because of early identification and advanced hearing technology, we see a dramatic growth in the number of children with hearing loss who are entering public schools who need accommodations,” continued Treni. “As a result, parents need to be educated on how to advocate for specific classroom accommodations that will help their child maximize their academic potential.”

AG Bell’s P.A.T. program is available to anyone at no cost due to the generous support of the Oticon Foundation which sponsors social and education programs, publications, conferences, cultural activities and campaigns for researchers, hearing care professionals and the general public. The Oticon Foundation is the majority shareholder of Oticon, the oldest hearing aid manufacturer in the world. Oticon’s U.S. operations are based in Somerset, N.J. “We are pleased that the foundation has chosen to support AG Bell’s P.A.T. program,” said Maureen Doty Tomasula, AuD, marketing manager of Oticon Pediatrics. “The successful outcomes of Parent Advocacy Training parallel Oticon’s People First philosophy to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally and participate freely.”

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps families, health care providers and education professionals understand childhood hearing loss and the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Through advocacy, education and financial aid, AG Bell helps to ensure that every child and adult with hearing loss has the opportunity to listen, talk and thrive. With chapters located in the United States and a network of international affiliates, AG Bell supports its mission: Advocating Independence through Listening and Talking! For more information, visit http://www.agbell.org.

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Catherine Murphy

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