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Erie 1 BOCES Special Education provides programs which are designed for students with disabilities whose instructional needs cannot be appropriately served by their local school district.  Special education classes, for students ages 5-21, are hosted within our component school districts. 

 A team effort by related services itinerant professionals supports the classroom teacher in meeting the demands of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.  The following itinerant services are provided, based on the student’s IEP:  speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, itinerant hearing services, itinerant vision services and social work counseling.

Special programs exist to specifically meet the needs of students with autism, behavior disorders and students who have previously not been successful in a traditional public school setting.  Transition services are an important part of the curriculum for all Special Education students.  Students have an opportunity to participate in a simulated workshop and in community internships.

For all students, learning is based on the New York State Common Core Learning Standards.

Special Education
Sign language interpreter breaks down communication barriers

Kathleen Pollack, an American sign language (ASL) interpreter for deaf and hearing impaired students, helps to facilitate communication in the classroom between the deaf student, his or her peers and the instructor.

Kathleen Pollack, American sign language interpreter, translates the lecture for a student.   
“The student also has the right to hear extraneous conversations as well as have environmental sounds interpreted,” said Pollack. “For example, a loud boom outside, a fire truck, anything making noises that draws other student’s attention.”

Active learning environments are critical to student success in school; Pollack ensures that deaf students are able to be successful in these environments.

“Students are usually grouped in fours to help each other in the classroom,” said Pollack. “I’ll pull up a chair and help facilitate communication between the hearing students and the deaf student.”

Pollack mentioned that, as an interpreter, she often helps students and staff to understand her role in the classroom. Pollack hosts an in-service for staff that will have a deaf student in the classroom, explaining to them where the student should be seated and how movies need to have closed captioning.

In addition to sharing tips with staff, Pollack helps hearing students learn about deaf culture on a regular basis.

“Sometimes, students will come up to me and say, ‘Can you tell them this,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, I can’t, but you can! I’m just the telephone cord,’” Pollack stated.

In the past, Pollack has been given the opportunity in the classroom to teach hearing students a few basic ASL signs.

“I would teach them how to say some phrases, like, ‘How are you?’ ‘Good job!’ and how to spell their names,” said Pollack, with the goal of having hearing students interact with their deaf classmate. “Often, teachers would sit down and participate as well, because they’re learners in this instance as well. And eventually, students pick up a few signs and talk to my student.”

More than simply providing a service, interpreters often act as secondary instructors.

“Often the interpreter becomes the tutor to assist with content that is difficult or confusing for the student, explaining things in a way that can be easily understood, and breaking down the English language that is often difficult for ASL students,” stated Pollack.

“I’m not just another staff member, I’m part of the ‘village’ in the school,” Pollack said, stating that she enjoys getting involved in the classroom.
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