University of Edinburgh

Benchmarking Sign-Bilingual Education

Educational Audiology in Donaldson’s College

Joseph O’Donnell
Educational Audiologist

Audiology and Sign Bilingualism

“Audiological input in relation to the development of residual hearing and listening and spoken language skills of deaf children in sign bilingual settings should be equal to that for deaf children who are educated within an oral/aural approach.”

P Knight &R Swanwick ?Working with Deaf Pupils: Sign Bilingual Policy into Practice?
[Feeling in past that less need for good audiology in schools for deaf]

?Maximum use is made of amplified residual hearing for the development of spoken language”

Pickersgill M& Gregory S “Sign Bilingualism: A Model”

Audiology Policy at Donaldsons

The hearing aid policy of Donaldson’s College follows a child-centred approach based on two main principles:

  1. Evidence of benefit from use
  2. Growing independence, autonomy and control of all amplification and communication support devices on the part of the child.

Both of these will develop within an atmosphere of trust and encouragement.

Audiological Approach at Donaldsons

  • Provide the best possible audiological service to all pupils
  • This will allow us to obtain information on how each child can use what hearing they have
  • The focus is on language development
  • The approach attempts to ensure that all children are provide with the best opportunity to develop their spoken language skills

Policy Statement

“Donaldson’s College believes that all children should have the opportunity to develop their auditory capabilities to the full. This belief demands that there is a planned, cohesive and collaborative approach to each child's auditory development.”

Policy for Auditory Skills Development

The degree and type of audiological support each child in Donaldsons will receive will be determined by the needs and wishes of each child and their family.

It is not dependent on the existence of a peripheral hearing loss or the degree of hearing that the child has.

Examples of Type of Support Offered

    • Young adult with a profound sensorineural hearing loss from a deaf family.
    • Pupil encouraged to try out a range of hearing aids over time.
    • All assessments have shown minimal benefit when listening to speech
    • Pupil aware of lack of benefit and decides not to wear hearing aids

    • Primary aged child with language processing difficulties.
    • Prone to glue ear
    • Regular involvement with child, family and teaching staff
    • Provide advice, guidance and regular assessment of middle ear condition

    • Child with normal peripheral hearing on the autistic spectrum
    • Experiencing difficulties when exposed to loud sounds
    • Involved clinical audiologists to assist in assessment and planning rehabilitation programme
    • Awareness raising with staff and children and close liaison with parents

    • S1 pupil who has a cochlear implant
    • Intermittent use of processor
    • Poor receptive and expressive language
    • Work with him in music class, making music more accessible to him
    • Encouraged to make choices about implant use
    • Work with parents on appropriate expectations

    • Young child with mild hearing loss and fluctuating middle ear problems
    • Child tried out a low amplification FM system using headphones
    • Collaboration with teacher and SLT and advise on situations to use aid
    • Regular monitoring of middle ear condition and hearing levels

    • Child who has no access to sound through ears
    • Tactile stimulation device used
    • Work with parents, classteacher, SLT and Music teacher
    • Child provided with some access to music
    • Child able to modulate own speech by positive feedback

Whole School Audiology at Donaldsons

  • All children have difficulties hearing in noise and benefit from a good acoustic environment
  • All children are prone to glue ear from 2 – 5 years of age
  • Many of our children have sensorineural hearing loss and wear assistive listening devices
  • Many of our children will benefit from some form of classroom amplification
  • Many of our children have issues around language acquisition
  • The majority of our children will benefit from involvement in an auditory development programme


  • Auditory programmes : L-Lab, Music
  • Phonics scheme
  • Live English
  • Lipreading
  • Vocabulary teaching
  • Communication profiling