Program helps students in deaf, hard of hearing community in Ralston

Program helps students in deaf community in Ralston
Posted at 11:08 AM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-13 12:08:19-05

RALSTON, Neb. (KMTV) - — Educators say communication is often the key to learning, but for students who have trouble hearing it can be just one of the many challenges they face at school.

In the Ralston School District, educators are working to give students the best learning experience possible inside the classroom.

"When I help the students understand, it's great because it's like we have the same language, we have the same culture ... they feel better," Deaf & Hard of Hearing Educator William Jeffery said.

Jeffery teaches students through his own experiences.

"The interaction with the students, that is the best thing," Jeffery told us. "You know chatting with all of them, seeing them grow."

In the Ralston School District deaf and hard of hearing students are able to learn alongside students inside traditional classrooms.

"We have to learn to live within our world and our world is becoming smaller, [it's] becoming more connected," Director of the Suburban Schools Program Diane Meyer said. "It's important that we learn to work with a variety of individuals."

Jeffery attended the Nebraska For the Deaf, but following his daughter's success (who's also deaf) at a mainstream school, Jeffery says he sees the benefits of keeping her in public school.

"If deaf are socializing with hearing kids it could help their future skills by communicating, how they can write back and forth together, how they can do gestures, they can text," Jeffery said. "It's important because it's better than just sitting back and not knowing how to socialize."

Deaf educators share that same sentiment.

"It's also important because we live in such an inclusive world," Meyer said. You have to learn to work with everybody."

Meyer works with more than 20 school districts providing services to deaf or hard of hearing students.

Students are placed in the center-based program in the Ralston School District through a contract with their resident district, based on educational needs identified by the students I.E.P goals and objectives.

Right now, 30 students are being served in the Ralston School District.

"They need to be able to experience everything that everybody else has access to, and so as long as the program they're in can give that to them, go for it," Meyer said.

Meyer also says technology has made it easier for deaf students to navigate through mainstream schools.

"That probably is our biggest change in the entire field, is the technology for the kids to be able to give them access," Meyer said.

Some students us Cochlear implants, which provide a sense of sound.

Interpreters are always there for the students, because for many students, it's more than school, it's a safe space that helps them grow.