Program focuses on deaf students

By Maureen Morrissey

NIU Services for the Hearing Impaired is co-sponsoring a midwest conference to educate people associated with hearing impaired individuals.

The program, scheduled for today through Friday, is in conjunction with NIU’s Deaf Awareness Week.

The bi-annual regional conference is directed toward teachers, counselors, vocational rehabilitation personnel and parents of hearing impaired students, said Nancy Kasinski, director of NIU Services for the Hearing Impaired. Other sponsors include Gallaudet Regional Center at Johnson Community College, Wabonsee Community College, Harper College, Hinsdale South High School and the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services.

Bob Baker, Disabled Studies Program director at Wabonsee Community College, said the conference began two years ago in order to improve Midwest networking among people and institutions involved with hearing impaired students.

A turnout of 100 to 150 people is expected at the conference, Baker said.

Baker said the first conference was “successful” and adressed hearing impaired students’ needs. Baker said he hopes this year’s conference will be as successful by trying to cover “most aspects of deaf education.”

More than 25 concurrent sessions will go on throughout the conference, focusing on such topics as current reasearch, transitional periods, interpreter issues and substance abuse amomg the hearing impaired. Guest speakers from around the country will attend, as well as Allan Vest, director of the NIU Program for the Hearing Impaired and Deborah Gough from NIU’s Communicative Disorders Department.

Vest and Gough will address recently-conducted research on transitions of hearing impaired students from high school to college and high school to work.

The conference’s exhibition room will be open to the general public all day Thursday. Held in the Illinois Room of the Holmes Student Center, the exhibition will feature schools, companies, and agencies involed with the hearing impaired.