For more than four decades, the school has offered a specialized program to help deaf and hard of hearing students improve their speaking and ASL skills.
TOLEDO, Ohio — A local school is doing what it can to ensure students of all abilities have access to learn and grow with unique programming for children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Sign language is a way of life at Oakdale Elementary and for over 40 years the school has offered a specialized program to help deaf and hard of hearing students improve their speaking skills and American Sign Language.
“It’s a mix of signs with my vocal English. So children who are hard of hearing, who are more dependent on voice, can have access to English. Students who need signs have access to signs at the same time”, said Ashley Bragg, a classroom interpreter and student teacher.
The program is available for kindergarten through eighth graders throughout Northwest Ohio.
Students are not separated from students who can hear. Instead, they are integrated so that hearing and deaf students can connect and learn from each other.
“Having access to communication is key. For communication and exposure, socializing with deaf and hearing people is very important,” said Tammy DelBrocco, Language Facilitator.
Teachers say some days are tough, but it’s worth it when they see the growth in students.
“You see great success,” said preschool teacher Rachel Dudakavich. “The data on student learning and their assessments show that what we do here at Oakdale is working.”
It is not just students who benefit from this program. Many interpreters have programming and ASL classes outside of school for parents who can hear but have deaf children.
“We do our best to teach children that they have community with the hearing community and they have community with the deaf community. Because deafness is a culture, it is not a disability. is a culture,” Bragg said.
The school wants families to know that deaf and hard of hearing students in Northwest Ohio are welcome.