I am a DCPS Educator: Judy Williams
Judy Williams is one of four audiologists at DCPS. Audiologists identify hearing loss, study how the brain processes sound, and determine the range, nature and degree of hearing loss. They also provide rehabilitative intervention to improve students’ ability to communicate and participate in educational activities.
School audiologists select and fit students for equipment and evaluate its effectiveness. They also repair and maintain equipment and educate students and teachers on how to use and maintain the devices.
Judy has worked at DCPS for 32 years. Currently, she works with 25 students ranging from preschool to high school. We asked her about her work as an audiologist.
What should parents expect when they meet with you or when their child is receiving services from you?
I am notified after a child in one of my assigned schools is identified as having a hearing impairment. I consult with the parent, children and school personnel, and we discuss the type and degree of hearing loss and the impact the hearing loss can have on the student’s academic development. I also will assist in deciding if an amplification device, such as a hearing aid, is necessary.
Sometimes we have to counsel the children to help them accept their hearing loss and the amplification devices they may have to use.
I also work with the children to identify strategies they can use in the academic setting, which all depends on the age of the child. I teach them how their particular amplification system works. As a user, the child needs to be able to tell us when it doesn’t sound right or when it isn’t working.
Often, there is an in-service training for school staff who work with the student so that everyone understands the student’s hearing loss and his or her individual needs.
Can you talk about a time when you have learned from a student or how a student has inspired you?
Several years ago, there was a student I began working with at Eliot Hine Middle School and continued working with her when she started attending Ballou Senior High School.
She had significant hearing loss in both ears, and she wore hearing aids in both ears. She was on the honor roll and an extremely determined student. I helped her navigate the college application process.
She was accepted at the University of the District of Columbia. I am quite proud of her.
I consider her a success story, because she was extremely motivated. She accepted my support and suggestions. She did not allow her significant hearing loss to stop her on her road to success. She worked with it and worked through it.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I think the most rewarding part is seeing young people without amplification and without assistance, get the amplification devices they need from their school or the clinic.
We see their eyes light up when they have their hearing aids on, and they are hearing and experiencing things they weren’t able to before. Often, they begin to succeed academically and become more social, because all of those things are impacted by a hearing loss.
What is some advice you would give parents who are finding out for the first time that their child is deaf or hard of hearing?
Parents who learn that their child is hearing impaired should find out all they can about their child’s hearing loss. They should talk to a hearing professional, the clinical audiologist and the educational audiologist. They should learn what impact the hearing loss can have academically, socially and psychologically. And they should search the many online sites that offer information and support for families with hearing impaired children, so they can become their child’s best advocate.