Keyword for this page: Hearing



Polk County Public Schools provide educational services to approximately100 students identified as deaf or hard-of-hearing. The Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Program offers a full continuum of services to meet both academic and communication needs identified on a student's individual education plan (IEP). We provide the educational services and technology necessary to assist our students in developing age-appropriate communication skills in their preferred mode of communication, whether it be spoken, signed or a combination of these.  Eligibility for the program is based on both a documented hearing loss and educational need. Students aged 3 through 22 years can receive services through the Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Program.  Students can be served through a variety of service delivery models, including self-contained, resource, or itinerant services:

 Self contained:  Students attend designated schools in the county where a certified teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing provides the majority of instruction for academics, and mainstreaming as appropriate.

Resource:  Students are in regular education classrooms for a portion of the day and may receive support from a certified teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing or an exceptional student education teacher for subjects as needed.

Itinerant:  An itinerant teacher certified to teach deaf/hard of hearing students provides consultative or direct services to students who need additional support or remediation in language, listening and advocacy skills, as well as supplemental instruction in academic subject matter.  In addition, students may need assistance on the operation and care of their amplification devices.

Currently, our Deaf/Hard of Hearing classrooms have a low student-teacher ratio and are typically staffed with one qualified Deaf/HH teacher and one paraeducator. Sign language interpreting services provide students access to classroom curriculum including extra curricula activities. Audiological services and technology are provided to meet the students’ needs.

Diagram of the Ear

Diagram of the Ear

Sound is collected by the pinna (the visible part of the ear) and directed through the outer ear canal. The sound makes the eardrum vibrate, which in turn causes a series of three tiny bones (the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup) in the middle ear to vibrate. The vibration is transferred to the snail-shaped cochlea in the inner ear; the cochlea is lined with sensitive hairs which trigger the generation of nerve signals that are sent to the brain.

On average, people can hear sounds in the frequencies between 20 to 20,000 Hertz.

Conductive Hearing Loss

A loudness disorder, created by some form of blockage that prevents sound from reaching the functioning inner ear. Often this type of loss can be restored or improved by removal of the cause of the blockage—wax build up or fluid  or infection; however, if damage is done or scar tissue remains the loss may not be reversed.  In some cases sound is not transmitted normally through the ear canal due to malformation of the outer ear or middle ear, instead the sound is carried through the bone in the skull, by way of a bone conduction hearing aid or a BAHA processor, this process is called bone conduction.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

A disorder that involves both distortion and loudness. It is a permanent loss that cannot be repaired surgically. Often called “nerve damage” and caused by external factors; however, forms of congenital hearing impairments/ deafness that are genetic types can occur at birth.  Department of Otolaryngology at Columbia University  refers to it “Sensory hearing loss refers to loss caused by abnormalities in the cochlea, such as by damage from noise trauma, viral infection, drug toxicity, or Meniere’s disease.”

Mixed Hearing Loss

Loss that combines the characteristics of conductive and sensorineural loss. Hearing loss is caused by an abnormality which occurs in the auditory system. Many types of hearing loss have known origins—either genetically or disease factors; however there are many times the origins remains unknown. They may occur after birth or may develop suddenly or over time; it may be partial or total and in both ears (bilaterally) or just one (unilaterally).

The Audiogram is used to explain your child’s hearing loss. It is a graph of the softest sounds they can hear. The graph is designed like a piano keyboard with low pitches (Hz) to high pitches from left to right. The soft sounds are at the top and the loud sounds are at the bottom. The loudness is measured at the bottom. The loudness is measured in decibels (dB) and the pitches are measured in hertz (Hz). Hearing loss is NOT usually measured in percentages. Click here to view the Audiogram.

Contact Information

Teri Crace, 534-0930 ESE Sr. Manager

Kim Vandervort, Technical Assistance Contact
Phone: (863) 534-7460 , Fax: (863) 519-3627