Educating Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Assessment
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC)
ERIC EC Digest #E550
Author: Malinda Eccarius
What is the Purpose of an Assessment of Children Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing?
The education of children who are deaf or hard of hearing is a
complex process. Appropriate placement, mode through which
they learn best (auditory, visual, or tactile), curriculum,
amplification, and decisions about transition from service to
service that families, schools, and individuals make depend on
reliable information. Assessment results should provide decision
makers with information from a variety of sources. The
communication, academic, intellectual, medical, and audiological
characteristics of a child combine to create an interconnected
pattern of strengths and needs that parents and teachers must
translate into classroom goals and objectives. When assessment
information serves as the basis for planning of a child's daily
program, it serves its primary purpose. The most common
purposes for assessment of children who are deaf or hard of
A diagnostician who can administer a valid assessment and provide results that serve the stated purpose of an evaluation must have adequate experience with this low incidence population. Gaining that experience, particularly in small school districts or rural special education agencies, can be very difficult. Assessment needs can take many forms, from administration of standardized tests in a clinical setting to classroom observation. The population of children who are deaf or hard of hearing is quite diverse. Children who are deaf and hard of hearing differ widely in their home environments, the cause and extent of hearing loss, language development history, and the existence of complicating factors (e.g., mental retardation, motor or visual limitations, learning difficulties). Most diagnosticians are not likely to have repeated experience in the assessment of such a range of individual differences.
What are Some Problems Associated with Assessment?
The following problems can also influence the accuracy and
usefulness of assessment results:
Who Does an Assessment?
Ideally, the examiner for a child who is deaf or hard of hearing child will:
What Are the Benefits of Assessment?
Through lack of assessment, some deaf students have
reached high school age without learning to read, have developed
behavior problems through long-term frustration with inappropriate
placement, or have been inadequately challenged. An appropriate
assessment can avoid these problems by:
What Are the Limitations of Assessment?
Assessment is a tool that helps parents and professionals
provide a child who is deaf or hard of hearing with the best
possible educational and developmental opportunities. However,
assessment by itself will not accomplish that purpose, and
limitations of assessment include the following:
What Questions Need to be Asked During the Assessment?
Examiners and parents need to ask:
References and Additional Resources
Bradley-Johnson, S. & Evans, L.D. (1991). Psychoeducational assessment of hearing impaired students: Infancy through high school. Austin, TX: Pro-ED.
Easterbrooks, S.,& Baker-Hawkins, S. (Eds.) (1994). Deaf and hard of hearing students: Educational service guidelines. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Directors of Special Education.
Kretschmer, R.R. & Kretschmer, L.W. (1988). Communication assessment of hearing impaired children: From conversation conversation. Journal of the Academy of Rehabilitation Audiology Monograph Supplement. Volume 21.
Salvia, J. & Ysseldyke, J. (1988). Assessment in special and remedial education (4th Edition), Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.
Sullivan, P.M. & Vernon, M. (1979). Psychological assessment of hearing impaired children. School Psychology Digest 8(3), 271-290.
Assessments are offered by local school districts and area special education agencies, private and state schools for the deaf, universities with deaf education and speech-pathology departments, and private hospitals and clinics. Parents and school personnel should talk directly with the evaluation team members or the team administrator before making a decision about where to have an assessment completed. The following centers specialize in assessment using a particular communication modality.
Boys Town National Research Hospital (BTNRH), 555 N. 30th St., Omaha, NE 68131, (402) 498-6548 (V) or (402) 498-6696 (TTY).
Southern California Assessment Center for the Deaf, 3044 Horace, Riverside, CA 92506, (909) 782-6542 (V/TTY).
Central Institute for the Deaf (CID), 818 S. Euclid Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110, (314) 977-0100 or (314) 977-0156.
National Assessment Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children and Youth, Kendall Demonstration Elementary School, 800 Florida Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002, (202) 651-5031 (V/TTY).
League for the Hard of Hearing, 50 Broadway, New York, NY 10004, Phone: (917) 305-7700, TTY: (917) 305-7999, Fax: (917) 305-7888.
Northern California Assessment Center for the Deaf, 39350 Gallaudet Dr., Fremont, CA 94538, (510) 794-3737.
Ms. Eccarius is Coordinator of Educational Services for the Boys Town National Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.
ERIC Digests are in the public domain and may be freely reproduced and disseminated, but please acknowledge your source. This publication was prepared with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under contract no. RR93002005. The opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the positions of policies of OERI or the Department of Education.