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May 7, 2005

Education of deaf kids explored

From: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY - May 7, 2005

Greg Livadas
Staff writer

(May 7, 2005) — The education of deaf and hard-of-hearing children is the focus of a two-day conference that began Friday in Rochester.

About 200 teachers of the deaf, speech therapists, interpreters and parents came to learn about the latest techniques, technology and laws, and to network with their peers at the Educational Support Service Personnel Conference.

The gathering is being held at the Clarion Riverside Hotel downtown.

"There's always new things to learn and new materials to see," said Judy Moulton, who teaches deaf students in the Greece Central School District.

Among the most popular topics: working with students with cochlear implants. The devices are surgically implanted and allow some deaf people to hear more sounds.

"I want to hear the experiences of deaf adults who were mainstreamed (with hearing students) and what my children are entitled to," said Melisa DiDomenico of Hilton, whose two children attend Rochester School for the Deaf.

The keynote speaker Friday was Lindsay Dunn, special assistant to I. King Jordan, president of Gallaudet University, a liberal arts college for deaf people in Washington, D.C.

Dunn said it is time to examine why deaf students traditionally fall behind their hearing peers academically.

"This academic achievement gap is not something to be proud of," he said. "What can we do to do better?"

He said more deaf students are now being educated in schools that also have hearing students — 67 percent in 1991 to 72 percent in 1996, the last time Gallaudet gathered data.

"Inclusion is not going away," Dunn said.

During Friday's banquet, Moulton was given the annual Robert F. Panara Award for "teacher of the year" by Panara, of Henrietta, a respected retired educator of deaf people.

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