By Josh Low
Supporting students with hearing loss, and enabling them to pursue their passions, is the aim of a program currently being run at St Brigid’s College in Lesmurdie by Telethon Speech & Hearing.
Known as the ‘Outpost’ program, the goal is to enable hearing impaired students to take a full and active part in mainstream school life.
One such student, who has benefited greatly from the Outpost program, is Year Six student Saxon Miller who also plays Australian Rules Football and cricket for St Brigid’s College.
As his parents Rob and Gabby explain, it was only after Saxon was already at St Brigid’s that they realised he was deaf in one ear.
“It was at age four that he did the eyes, ears and nose test – that’s when we realised he was deaf in one ear and how he ended up being a part of the Outpost program at the school,” they said.
A number of support staff work closely with both the teachers and Saxon to ensure that he is fully supported in his daily school life.
Attending mainstream classes and receiving individual tuition in areas of language, speech, auditory and academic skills, Saxon benefits from Telethon Speech & Hearing’s team of experts including audiologists, speech pathologists and occupational therapists, who visit the school on a regular basis.
On a daily level though, Saxon said the process is quite simple.
“I give the FM to every teacher and we check everything to make sure that it is all working,” he said.
“When the teacher speaks, it goes straight into my hearing aid for me to listen in class.”
Rob said the hearing aid and FM setup that Saxon has at the school, allows him to better focus his hearing.
“The teacher takes the FM system from Saxon, wears it around their neck and speaks, which then goes directly into Saxon’s hearing aid through a wireless connection.
“The hearing aid amplifies the sounds, in a sense helping to eliminate some surrounding noise that at times can be too loud for him to distinguish what sounds to focus on,” he said.
“He’s come a long way since the early days that’s for sure, and the help that he’s been given has definitely helped him in his passion for sport.”
Gabby said that everyone at the school plays a part in helping the students to learn effectively.
“It has now gotten to a stage where, because we’ve got a few kids in this program, they connect the FM system to the speakers at assemblies or Mass for the kids with hearing difficulties to get direct hearing”.
“To have Saxon in your class is a bit of an effort, but they’re all about putting the kids first.
The teachers have really been great at St Brigid’s and everyone that’s involved, whether it’s the audiologist or the speech therapist, is really helpful. You can see that it’s a team effort,” she concluded.
From pages 15 and 16 of Issue 13: ‘God, Science, Church’ of The Record Magazine