Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department
Language and Communication
MSDB embraces a Total Communication approach to education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The Total Communication philosophy means:
- Ever-expanding our own skills and resources in our toolboxes in educating students
- Meeting students at their level
- Giving students as many choices and options as possible for success
- Encouraging students to develop American Sign Language skills – viewed and expressed
- Encouraging students to develop English skills and abilities – reading and writing
- Encouraging students to use appropriate strategies and amplification technologies to develop lip-reading skills and/or listening and/or spoken language skills
- Using signed codes and signed systems of English to support learning as appropriate
“Every deaf or hard of hearing child deserves opportunities in spoken language-only environments AND opportunities in ASL-only environments to learn how language and communication work and to learn the tools and strategies that can be successful in a variety of communication situations and environments.”
~ Donna Sorensen, MSDB Superintendent
Our Uniqueness in Education
There are many reasons to consider MSDB as a placement option for education. MSDB offers smaller class sizes than public schools depending on the subject. Teachers and Paraeducators spend quality time instructing students in small groups or individually.
We also offer mainstreaming opportunities for students based on IEP Team recommendations. Our public school mainstreaming schools are Lewis and Clark Elementary and East Middle School, which are both located across the street. For high school students, classes can be taken at Great Falls High School (GFHS). Transportation to and from GFHS is provided by MSDB.
Our Uniqueness in Direct Instruction and Peer Interactions
Most of our staff, from the Business Office to Maintenance to the Visually Impaired Department, can communicate with every student on campus who is deaf or hard of hearing by using Sign Language. Staff, including Support Staff, in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department provide direct instruction to students to facilitate deeper understanding and learning. Students have direct academic and social interactions with their peers. Students have access to Deaf role models who are Administrators, Teachers, Paraeducators, and Deaf employees from other departments.
Our Uniqueness in Staff
Most of our teachers in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department are certified Teachers of the Deaf (TODs) who are specifically trained in working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing. We have Deaf Teachers and Deaf Paraeducators who serve as role models. Many of our staff members are former students and former graduates of MSDB, which shows the heart of our school. Many staff members have worked at MSDB for over 5, 10, and 15+ years, which shows the dedication our staff have to our students and to each other.
Our Uniqueness in Related Services
Our Support Staff provide instruction in foundational skills so students are able to access the curriculum. Related Service providers include our ASL Teacher, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech and Language Pathologist, School Counselor, School Psychologist, Behavioral Specialist, and Audiologist. See the Support Staff page for more information about these services.