The History of the Redford Union Schools Oral Program
In 1957, the Redford Union School District, in cooperation with neighboring school districts, established a regional program for hearing impaired children. This provided an alternative for parents whose only option had been to send their students away to the Michigan State School for the Deaf.
At that time, there was only one classroom of 10 children taught by Mr. Gus Kaselemis. Today, the program serves over 300 hearing impaired children from birth to age 25 from twelve school districts including: Inkster, Livonia, Northville, Plymouth-Canton, South Redford, Garden City, Crestwood, Romulus, Westwood, Wayne-Westland, Van Buren and Redford Union. It is staffed by ten classroom teachers, nine teacher consultants, a social worker, a psychologist, four educational audiologists, two speech therapists and a full time director.
Utilizing an auditory-oral approach, the goal of the program is to educate each hearing impaired child to achieve his/her potential, giving the communication skills necessary to live in our oral world.
As soon as the child's hearing loss has been identified, services are provided to the child and the family in the home. The combination of early training, parent education and amplification enables the child to learn speech and language through more normal channels. From the very beginning the parent is an integral part of the educational team. During the child's preschool, elementary, and secondary education, the academic and social skills necessary to be successful and independent in a hearing world are stressed.
It is important to establish the attitude that the children are a part of the hearing world. Therefore, Redford Union provides a true mainstream program for the hearing impaired. Classes are housed in five public school buildings corresponding to the ages of the students. All children are mainstreamed for non-academic classes such as art, gym and music with academic mainstreaming as soon as the student is ready.
Utilization of the education team, which includes the social worker, speech pathologist, psychologist, audiologist, consulting physical and occupational therapists and teacher of the hearing impaired, enables quality diagnostic assessment and services to meet the total needs of each child. The educational audiologist not only maintains personal and group amplification, but also monitors hearing levels and middle ear function, assists teachers in developing individual auditory programs, acts as liaison with clinics, and provides in-service to parents and teachers.
Teacher/Consultants work with hearing impaired students attending schools in their resident districts. They provide tutorial support, in-service for parents and teachers, and act as a liaison between audiology clinics, parents and the school.
Many students have been on the honor roll and have participated in virtually every extra curricular activity that has been offered, including: band, ski club, high school plays and even choir! They have also earned letters in almost every varsity sport, and one student was a captain of the football team. Since it would be impossible to list all of the students' awards, the following are highlights of just a few of their accomplishments. One of the students won the National Hearing Aid Foundation Christmas Card Contest and went on to receive a degree in commercial art from Kendall School of design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 1973, two deaf students received honors; one received the Betty Crocker Award for the school's outstanding homemaker; the other was the recipient of the Alexander Graham Bell Merit Certificate. Still more honors came, in 1974, when a Redford Union graduate was named Outstanding Draftsman, and a second student, at the age of eighteen, became one of the few deaf people in the United States to be a licensed airline pilot. In 1977, the Alexander Graham Bell Scholarship was awarded to a graduate of Redford Union.
In 1970, the first class of hearing impaired students graduated from Redford Union High School. Because they had received a quality oral education, many more options were open to them. Many went on into the world of work or to further their education at various colleges, universities, and business or technical schools. Since then, our students have graduated from almost every university in Michigan including: Ferris State University, Michigan State University, Northwestern Michigan College, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University. In 1983, one of our graduates earned a Masters degree from Wayne State University in Social Work, and in 1984 another graduated with a Doctoral degree in Dentistry from the University of Detroit.
Because our graduates realize the importance of the oral education they have received, many return to help promote oral education for other hearing impaired children. They speak to local and state organizations, and have volunteered to speak to the parents of children presently enrolled in our program.
The success of the program and achievement of our students was recognized when the Redford Union Oral Program for the Children with Hearing Impaired, received the National Hearing Impaired Program of the Year Award in 1975 from the American Organization for the Education of the Hearing Impaired, the Professional section of the Alexander Graham Bell Association. Continued achievement was again recognized in the 30th year of programming by being named State Program of the Year in 1987 by the Michigan Speech and Hearing Association.
The program was again recognized by the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, in 1998, receiving the Continuing Excellence Award from the professional section.