DePaul School for Hearing & Speech

Basic Information

Address: 6202 Alder Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
County: Allegheny
Phone Number: (412)924-1012
Fax Number: (412)924-1037
President: Dennis E. Barrett
School Type: Comprehensive educational program for children who have moderate to profound hearing losses

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Additional Information

School Setting:

Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Students travel by bus from the entire SW Pennsylvania region to the school each day.

School Size: 50 students
Student/Teacher Ratio: 3/1
Departments:

Infants: in home speech and language services.
Toddlers: half day program including daily individual speech therapy and parental education.
Preschool: full day including daily individual speech
therapy.
Elementary and Middle school: comprehensive academic program including daily individual speech therapy.

Percentage of Graduating Class: Students mainstream to regular education settings when they have developed to be successful in those settings.
Support Services:

audiological, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy

School Clubs:

students are expected to participate in sports and other activities within the mainstream.

Parking Spaces/Availability:

Free adequate parking available

Notes/School Information:

DePaul School for Hearing and Speech, formerly known as The DePaul Institute, is a 97 year old non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children who have hearing impairments to speak clearly and to understand spoken language with confidence. Founded in 1908 by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, DePaul School for Hearing and Speech is now a State Approved Private Magnet School for deaf and hard of hearing children. We are certified to serve children from birth to age twenty-one; although, most of our students mainstream to regular educational settings during their elementary school years with no or minimal need for ongoing support because of their hearing impairments. The goal of our program is to mainstream children to be fully participating members of our hearing and speaking world.

DePaul's educators have developed teaching methods, educational
modalities, and curricula that enable deaf children to achieve literacy far in excess of the norm for deaf children. Spoken language is a priority at DePaul School for Hearing and Speech. Children are continually immersed in language and are themselves active participants in oral communication.

It costs approximates $50,000 annually to provide services for each child at DePaul School for Hearing and Speech. State funding and insurance reimbursement for services cover nearly $38,000 per child. The balance is raised from corporate, philanthropic foundations and individual donations. Each child is awarded a full scholarship. A family's financial situation is not a barrier for a child to receive this special training. Many of our families with comfortable financial resources, however, do become benefactors to the school.

DePaul has been successful in teaching hearing impaired children
including those with a profound loss how to speak and understand spoken language throughout our 97 year history. The advent of digital hearing aids, micro surgery and cochlear implantation in very young children all further support and advance the success of DePaul students. Half of our students now have cochlear implants. A cochlear implant is a prosthetic device surgically inserted in the cochlea to deliver electrical impulses that can be translated to sound. A person with an implant must be habilitated to understand what the sound means and given intense speech and language therapy to maximize the benefit of the implant.

Another technological advancement that is significantly changing the impact of permanent hearing loss on children is Otoacoustic Auditory Emissions (OAE) screening that is now required by law for all newborns in Pennsylvania. This is a simple, noninvasive test that detects hearing loss in infants. The earlier a child's hearing loss is identified, the sooner intervention services such as auditory training and cochlear implantation can occur. This is critical to take advantage of the brain's natural plasticity to develop speech that exists in the early years of a person's life. This plasticity is significantly diminished by age three and a half, and is nearly eliminated by adulthood.

There is a considerable range of ideas about how permanent hearing loss is viewed. At DePaul, as at all auditory/oral schools, we consider permanent hearing loss a disability, the effects of which every cognitively salient child can learn to overcome. Without the intense speech and language training the auditory/oral method provides, hearing loss can lead to an even greater disability, isolation. Others view deafness as an identity and support signing as the first language of communication. Often, signing is taught as the primary language in combination with spoken language. This is known as Total Communication
and prepares children to join Deaf Culture as a lifestyle. The pendulum has swung between the popularities of the two philosophies for two hundred years. Newborn hearing screening and the early intervention that it affords, and the improvement in hearing aids and cochlear implants all point to a permanent shift to a general preference for oral education for children who are cognitively salient.