Total Communication

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) makes every effort to place students with disabilities within the inclusive setting of their community schools in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004. Related services (e.g., interpreting, audiology, itinerant, etc.) and academic support are provided as recommended by the IEP. For some students, the impact of their hearing loss has a severe effect on communication development and academic levels.

Cluster classes are provided for students in centralized locations for students whose IEP cannot be met within their community schools, even with support services of an itinerant teacher, audiologist, school-based resource personnel and accommodations/modifications. Within the cluster classes, teachers certified in deaf education provide instruction through an adapted curriculum with the focus on language development, an area most impacted by hearing loss.

Students in the cluster classes receive instruction through communication methods of total communication or spoken communication. Teachers incorporate instructional methods and strategies based on research, the students’ individual learning styles, and effective practices in deaf education. Students in the cluster classes are included with their hearing peers when appropriate, with support services and accommodations/ modifications as needed.

Total Communication classes present instruction through simultaneous communication of oral speech/language and sign communication. In addition, visual aids, speechreading skills, use of student’s residual hearing, development of auditory skills, and use of technology are provided through a total communication approach.

Oral/Spoken Language classes incorporate oral speech and language, visual aids, speechreading skills, use of residual hearing, development of auditory skills, and use of technology within the instructional setting.

Cluster classes are located at Villa Cresta Elementary School, Pine Grove Middle School, and Parkville High School.

Additional support services of audiologists, speech pathologists, social worker and psychologists who fluent in sign communication and experienced with working students who are deaf, hard of hearing and cochlear implanted, are available countywide.