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Glossary of Terms


Accessible Educational Materials (AEM): Materials that are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of student variability regardless of format (print, digital, graphical, audio, video). IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) specifically focuses on accessible formats of print educational materials. In relation to IDEA, the term AEM refers to print educational materials that have been transformed into the specialized formats of Braille, large print, audio, or digital text.

Accommodations: Supports and services that allow learners access to the curriculum.

Acoustics: Pertaining to sound, the sense of hearing, or the science of sound.

Acoustic Room Treatment: The use of sound-absorbing materials (such as carpet and acoustic tile) to reduce ambient room noise and improve the signal-to-noise ratio, thus enhancing the usefulness of hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other types of amplification.

Acquired Hearing Loss: A hearing loss that is not present at birth; sometimes referred to as an adventitious loss.

Air Conduction (AC): Sound from the air delivered through the ear canal, the eardrum, and middle ear to the inner ear.

Ambient Noise: Background noise that competes with the main speech signal.

American Sign Language (ASL): A visual-spatial language used in the United States and Canada. Linguistic information is conveyed by the movement of hands and non-manual signals received through the eyes and processed in the language areas of the brain. ASL has its own rules of grammar, phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.

Amplification: The use of hearing aids and other electronic devices to increase the loudness of sound.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs): All types of electronic hearing aids, including personal aids, FM systems, infrared systems, special input devices for telephone or television, amplified alarms and signals, etc.

Assistive Technology (AT): Identified in IDEA 2004 as "Any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of children with disabilities. The term does not include a medical device that is surgically implanted, or the replacement of such device."

Audiogram: The graph on which a person's thresholds (loudness level at which a person perceives a sound) is plotted for different frequencies (pitches).

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder (ANSD): A hearing disorder in which the outer hair cells within the cochlea are present and functional, but sound information is not consistently transmitted to the brain by the auditory nerve, resulting in a dyssynchronous signal to the brain.

Auditory/Oral: A communication methodology that encourages children to make use of the hearing they have (residual hearing) through the use of appropriate technology (e.g., hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems) and therapeutic intervention. In this approach, children are taught to listen and speak.

Auditory Training: The process of training a person to use his or her amplified residual hearing for the recognition, identification, and interpretation of sound.

Aural Habilitation/Rehabilitation: Training designed to help an individual with elevated hearing levels to make productive use of amplified residual hearing that may or may not include training in speechreading/lip reading.


Bicultural: Belonging to two cultures, such as Deaf culture and hearing culture.

Bilateral vs. Unilateral: Bilateral hearing loss means both ears are affected; a unilateral hearing loss means only one ear is affected.

Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA): A hearing assistive technology implanted device that vibrates the bone behind the ear to direct sound to the inner ear, therefore by-passing the outer and middle ear.

Bone conduction: Sound received through the vibration of the bones of the skull.


C-Print: A display of printed text of spoken English, in real-time, with a meaning-for-meaning representation of the spoken word.

Captionist: The person who provides real-time captioning for a student using either C-Print or Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART).

Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD): A condition typically associated with normal hearing levels that affect the ability to decode the sounds a person hears. CAPD appears to result from a dysfunction in the part of the brain that processes sound. It differs from Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder (ANSD) in that the latter is a result of the auditory nerve delivering sound to the brain inconsistently.

Closed Captioning (CC): A feature that displays text description of spoken words, music, and sounds on TV programs, movies, or videos.

Cochlear Implant: A small, complex electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound. The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is surgically placed under the skin.

Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART): Text displayed on an individual’s computer monitor, projected onto a screen, and combined with a video presentation to appear as captions.

Comprehensive Evaluation: An assessment evaluating a student’s cognitive, emotional, social, physical, and academic development to determine whether the student is qualified to receive special education services. Specifically identifies a student’s strengths and needs.

Conductive Hearing Loss: Occurs when there is a problem transferring sound waves anywhere along the pathway through the outer ear, tympanic membrane (eardrum), or middle ear (ossicles).

Configuration of Loss: The amount of hearing loss at each frequency (pitch) and the overall picture of hearing that is created on an audiogram (see above).

Congenital Hearing Loss: A hearing loss that is present at birth, that is associated with the birth process, or that develops in the first few days of life.

County Boards of Developmental Disabilities (CBDD): Ohio’s county boards of developmental disabilities provide assessment, service planning, and coordination to adults and children with developmental disabilities, as well as oversight and assistance to service providers. Each County in Ohio has a County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Critical Mass: A sufficient number of children functioning with the same language, communication mode, or age group, to ensure that appropriate opportunities for social and intellectual interaction occur.

Cued Speech: A phonemic-based system that makes traditionally spoken languages accessible by using a small number of handshapes, known as cues (representing consonants), in different locations near the mouth (representing vowels), as a supplement to speechreading.


D/HH: Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Deaf: A cultural, linguistic term that means a person’s communication mode is visually based, (either sign language or written English); residual hearing (if any) may be a secondary or supplemental sensory avenue.

Deafblind: Any combination of documented hearing and vision loss, ranging from mild to profound hearing loss and low vision to total blindness; students who are deafblind should register with Ohio's Center for Deafblind Education census (

Deaf Community: A community of people whose primary mode of communication is ASL and who share a common identity, culture, and way of interacting with each other and the hearing community.

Deaf Culture: A view of life manifested by the morals, beliefs, artistic expression, understandings, and language (ASL) particular to Deaf people. A capital “D” is often used in the word Deaf when it refers to a community or cultural aspects of deafness.

Deaf Studies: The study of the history, culture, language, and literature of the Deaf and the cross-cultural relationship between the Deaf and hearing communities.

Decibel (dB): The unit of measurement for the loudness of sound; the higher the dB, the louder the sound.

Degree of Hearing Loss: The severity of hearing loss, typically divided into seven categories. The numerical values are based on the hearing levels at three frequencies, 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz, in the better ear, without amplification. Some people use slightly smaller or slightly larger numbers for each of the following categories:

  • Normal range = -10 to 15 dB
  • Slight loss/minimal loss = 16 to 25 dB
  • Mild loss = 26 to 40 dB
  • Moderate loss = 41 to 55 dB
  • Moderate/severe loss = 56 to 70 dB
  • Severe loss = 71 to 90 dB
  • Profound loss = 91 dB or more (

Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD): The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities is a statewide system that funds programs located in counties across Ohio. DODD supports people with disabilities who are eligible, birth through adulthood.


Early Intervention (EI): Programs for young children with special needs, from birth until three; early intervention services are authorized under IDEA Part C and may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, or other appropriate interventions which are typically provided in the child's home or a community setting.

Earmold: A custom-made acrylic, vinyl, or silicone piece that fits into the outer ear to send sound from a hearing aid into the ear.

Ear, Nose and Throat Physician (ENT): A medical doctor, known as an otolaryngologist, who identifies and treats ear, nose, and throat conditions.

Educational Audiologist: An audiologist who specializes in the practice of audiology in the educational setting with emphasis on the implications of hearing loss for listening, learning and accommodations such as hearing assistive technology to effectively manage communication access. Specific responsibilities are defined in IDEA Part C [34CFR303.13(b)(2)] and Part B [34CFR300.34(c)(1)].

Educational Interpreter: A professional who uses sign language/communication systems and spoken languages in school settings for the purpose of providing access to the general curriculum, classroom dynamics, extracurricular activities and social interactions.

Educational Service Centers (ESC): The 52 educational service centers in Ohio provide school districts with professional development, technology support, planning, student service support, and administrative services to improve student learning, enhance the quality of instruction, and expand equal access to resources.

English Sign Systems: Sign systems designed for educational purposes, which use manual signs in an English word order.

Etiology: The cause or origin of a specific disease or condition.

Evaluation Team Report (ETR): The documented results of a comprehensive evaluation, which consist of a student’s strengths and needs. Used for special education eligibility determination, and used to plan an Individualized Education Program.

Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) D/HH: ECC is used to define concepts and skills that often require direct specialized support with children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing in order to compensate for decreased opportunities to learn incidentally by observing others.


Fingerspelling: A form of sign language in which individual letters are formed by fingers to spell out words.

FM System: A wireless assistive listening device that consists of a transmitter (worn by the speaker) and a small receiver that couples to a hearing aid or cochlear implant or bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA). The speaker's voice transmits directly to the receiver, reducing the effects of background noise and loss of intensity due to distance from the speaker.

Frequency: The number of vibrations per second of a sound. Frequency, expressed in Hertz (Hz), determines the pitch of sound.

Functional Gain: The value that describes how much amplification a hearing aid is providing. For example, a child with unaided hearing at 70 dB who, when amplified, hears at 30 dB, is experiencing a gain of 40 dB.


Gesture: The movement of any part of the body to express or emphasize an idea, an emotion, or a function. Gestures are not part of a formal communication system.


Hard of Hearing: An individual with partial ability to hear who may communicate via sign language, spoken language, or both.

Hearing Aid: A personal electronic device that amplifies sound to improve auditory access for an individual with hearing loss. These devices should be fitted and dispensed by a licensed audiologist.

Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT): FM systems, infrared, and other hearing technologies that accommodate and improve communication for deaf and hard-of-hearing people by eliminating or minimizing noise, distance, and other factors that interfere with listening and understanding.

Hearing Loss (Also see Deaf or Hard of Hearing): The following is a list of some of the terms used to describe a hearing loss:

  • ASYMMETRICAL: when the hearing loss is different for each ear
  • BILATERAL: when the hearing loss is present in both ears
  • FLUCTUATING: when the hearing loss changes over time
  • PROGRESSIVE: when the hearing loss has become worse over time
  • STABLE: no significant changes are observed over time
  • SUDDEN: an acute or rapid onset
  • SYMMETRICAL: when the degree and configuration of the loss is the same for each ear
  • UNILATERAL: when the hearing loss is present in just one ear

Hearing Screening: A screening of the ability to hear selected frequencies at intensities above the threshold of normal hearing. The purpose of the screening is to identify (with minimal time expenditure) individuals with hearing loss and refer them for further testing.


Individualized Education Program (IEP): A legal document which details a student’s special education program. It describes the student's strengths and needs, goals and objectives, placement, and measures of the student's progress toward achieving annual goals. Operates under part B of IDEA and addresses the needs of children ages three through twenty-one.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP): An action plan detailing the supports and services that early intervention provides to eligible young children with disabilities and their families. Operates under part C of IDEA and addresses the needs of children birth through age three.

Individualized Service Plan (ISP): An action plan detailing the supports and services that a county board of developmental disabilities will provide to eligible children and adults with disabilities.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): A federal law that details the educational rights and requirements applicable to students with disabilities.

Intensity: The loudness of a sound measured in decibels (dB).

Interpreter or Transliterator for the Deaf: A person who facilitates communication between hearing and deaf or hard of hearing persons through the interpretation of English (or another spoken language) into a signed language (e.g., ASL), the signed language into English, or the transliteration of a language into a visual/phonemic code by an oral interpreter or cued speech interpreter. A special kind of interpreter, the educational interpreter, specializes in classroom interpreting.

Intervener: An individual with knowledge and skills in the mode of communication of a student who is deafblind who communicates with the student what is occurring in the educational setting.

Intervention Specialist (IS): A certified teacher that assist learners with special education and social emotional needs in the classroom. They collaborate with team members to provide and assess individual education programs for learners.


Language: Language is a complex and dynamic system of conventional symbols that is used in various modes for thought and communication (ASHA). Language involves both comprehension (receptive) and/or use (expressive) of a spoken, written, and/or other signed (e.g., ASL) language.

  • ASL is a visual-spatial language used in the United States and Canada. The linguistic information is processed through the eyes and conveyed by the movement of the hands and non-manual signals. ASL has its own rules of grammar, phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.
  • Spoken and written language and their associated components are each a synergistic system comprised of individual language domains (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics) that form a dynamic integrative whole (Berko Gleason, 2005).

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE): Refers to a package of supports and services that include elements of a setting, materials, accommodations, and personnel. When those are in place, a learner is able to receive an appropriate education, designed to meet his or her educational needs, alongside peers without disabilities, to the maximum extent possible.

Listening and Spoken Language Therapy: application of techniques, strategies, and procedures that promote optimal acquisition of spoken language through listening.

Low Vision: Vision loss that cannot be corrected by medical or surgical procedures, or with conventional eyeglasses.


Mainstreaming: The concept that students with disabilities attending school with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible and when appropriate to the needs of the child with a disability.

Manually Coded English: A term applied to a variety of different sign systems that represent English manually. Such systems include Signed English and Signing Exact English (SEE II).

Mixed Hearing Loss: A hearing loss that has a combined conductive and sensorineural component.

Modification: Changes in what the learner is taught from the curriculum.

Monaural Amplification: The use of one hearing aid instead of two.

Mulit-Disciplinary Team: Involvement of two or more disciplines or professionals that provide integrated and coordinated services that include evaluation and assessment activities and development of an Individual Family Service Plan/Individual Education Program.


Occupational Therapist (OT): A professional who works with people to improve their fine-motor skills.

Office for Exceptional Children (OEC): Provides leadership, assistance, and oversight to school districts and other entities that provide differentiated instruction for students with disabilities and gifted students. Monitors and supports issues regarding compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Ohio Accessibility Manual: A comprehensive policy document providing information about the accessibility features of Ohio’s State Tests for grades 3-8 and high school in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. The manual helps to define the specific accessibility features available for all students, students with disabilities, students who are English learners, and students who are English learners with disabilities.

OCALI: OCALI is a recognized global leader in creating and connecting resources and relationships to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to live their best lives for their whole lives.

Ohio Coalition for the Education of Children with Disabilities (OCECD): A statewide non-profit program that provides direct support to families and their children with disabilities. Well known for their Parent Mentor program.

Ohio Department of Education (ODE): A state agency that supports and manages school districts and education in Ohio.

Ohio’s Learning Standards: The standards explain the knowledge and skills students are learning in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. They Identify what students should know and be able to do.

Ohio’s Learning Standards – Extended (OLS-E): Commonly known as the extended standards. These standards help to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities are provided with multiple ways to learn and demonstrate knowledge. At the same time, the extended standards are designed to maintain the rigor and high expectations of Ohio’s Learning Standards.

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD): State agency which partners with Ohioans with disabilities to achieve quality employment, independence, and social security disability determination outcomes.

Oral Education: A philosophy of teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to make efficient use of residual hearing through early use of amplification, to develop speech and to use speechreading skills as a primary means of acquiring language for communication and education.

Oral Transliterater/Interpreter: Silently mouths speech for the non-signing deaf consumer. They use facial expressions and gestures to enhance understanding for those who read lips.

Otitis Media: An infection of the middle ear. Children with recurrent episodes that are not appropriately treated may be at a higher risk for permanent decrease in hearing and/or may have a fluctuating hearing loss.

Otologist: A physician who specializes in the medical conditions of the ear.


Parent Mentor: A professional who is a parent of a child with a disability specially trained to support and mentor other parents experiencing similar circumstances. They are employed through local education agencies and Educational Service Centers to help families and school districts by providing support, information, and training services.

Physical Therapist (PT): A professional who works with people to improve their gross motor skills.

Pidgin Signed English (PSE): A variety of sign language that combines some features of American Sign Language and English. It is sometimes called a “contact language”.

Postlingual Deafness: Hearing loss acquired after learning a first language.

Pragmatics: The rules associated with the use of language in conversation and broader social situations (ASHA).

Prelingual Deafness: Hearing loss acquired before learning a first language.

Prior Written Notice: A document provided to the parents of a child with a suspected or confirmed disability within thirty days of the date of referral or change of placement.

Progressive vs. Sudden Hearing Loss: A progressive hearing loss is one that has decreased over time, such as a hearing loss resulting from a tumor on the auditory nerve, ototoxicity, or enlarged vestibular aqueduct syndrome (EVAS). A sudden hearing loss is one that has an acute or rapid onset and, therefore, occurs quickly, possibly caused by head trauma or a virus.

Pure-Tone: A type of auditory stimuli to represent frequency (pitch) used commonly in hearing testing.


Real-Time Captioning: A transcription of the speaker or speakers that is achieved by a captioner or transcriptionist typing the material as it is spoken using a standard word processing program and projecting to a computer or other screen.

Residual Hearing: The amount of usable hearing available for amplification purposes.

Response to Intervention (RTI): A multi-tiered (or three-step process) approach to the early identification and support of students with learning and behavior needs.

Reverberation: Prolongation (continuation) of a sound after the sound source has ceased. The amount of reverberant energy in a room depends on the absorption quality of the material of the walls, floor, and ceiling.


Section 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is part of a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. A written 504 plan is developed to guide the provision of instructional services, including accommodations and modifications, designed to meet a student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A hearing loss that is caused by damage to some or all of the nerves in the cochlea. Sensorineural hearing loss causes both distortions and decreased loudness of sounds.

Service Support Administrator (SSA): A professional from your local board of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) working with your child and family to create and implement an Individual Service Plan (ISP).

Signal-to-Noise Ratio: The difference in the intensities of the speech signal (e.g., the teacher's voice) and the ambient (background) noise.

Signed English: A signed system devised as a signed representation of English for children between the ages of 1 and 6 years old. ASL signs are used in an English word order, with 14 sign markers being added to represent a portion of the grammatical system of English. Derivations of Signed English include Seeing Essential English (SEE I) and the form most commonly used today Signing Exact English (SEE II).

Signing Exact English (SEE2): The SEE system was developed for use by parents and teachers of English. SEE2 uses ASL signs, along with initialized and newly created signs in English word order to represent English on the hands.

Simulation Communication (SIM COM): Use of spoken language and sign language at the same time.

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI): Teaching methods and strategies specific towards educating children with disabilities, to allow them to access the curriculum and meet the standards for his or her grade level. This is done by either adapting the content, adapting the methodology, or adapting the delivery of instruction. Specially designed instruction often involves multiple team members to provide access to the curriculum for children with disabilities.

Speechreading (Also referred to as lip reading): Using lip and mouth movements, facial expressions, gestures, and prosodic aspects of speech, structural characteristics of language, and topical and contextual cues to understand what a speaker is saying.

Speech and Word Recognition: The ability to understand what is being spoken.

Speech Intelligibility: A measure of how clearly a person’s speech can be understood by the listener.

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP): A professional who works to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults. (ASHA)

Speech Perception: The ability to recognize speech stimuli presented at supra-threshold levels (levels loud enough to be heard).

State Support Team (SST): Local and regional Ohio educators with a history in school improvement, preschool, and special education. The Ohio Department of Education coordinates the 16 regional teams that support all areas of Ohio.

Sudden Hearing Loss: A hearing loss that has an acute or rapid onset caused by occurrences such as head trauma or a tumor in the auditory nerve.

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Hearing Loss: Symmetrical hearing loss means that the degree and configuration of hearing loss are the same in each ear. An asymmetrical hearing loss is one in which the degree and/or configuration of the loss is different in each ear.

Syntax: Defines the word classes of language (i.e., nouns, verbs, etc.) and the rules for their combination (i.e., which words can be combined, and in what order, to convey meaning).


Teacher of the Deaf (TOD): A certified teacher that provides direct instruction and/or educational support for students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and collaborates with the educational team to enhance student learning.

Threshold: The softest level at which a person hears a sound 50 percent of the time.

Total Communication: A philosophy of communication that employs a combination of components of oral and manual teaching modes such as sign language, lip-reading, fingerspelling, use of residual hearing, speech, and sometimes Cued Speech.

Transition: The time between two phases. This term is used in various situations. Early transition refers to the time when students are moving from home or early intervention services into the school system at age 3. The secondary transition is the time when a school age student moves from school to post school activities. A coordinated set of activities that may address, among others, the assessment, planning process, educational and community experiences for youth with disabilities as they turn age 14. It is also, the period of time when a student exits the school system and is no longer eligible for school-based services. The student enters the "real world" where he may qualify for adult services.

Transition Plan: A plan for a coordinated set of activities that will assist the student in a transition from one educational program to another or from school to postsecondary environments.

Transition Services: Transition services are defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) as a coordinated set of activities that are focused on improving the academic and functional achievement that are based on the individual child's needs. These services may be provided as special education or related services.


Unilateral Hearing Loss: A hearing loss affecting only one ear. It may be a mild to profound loss of hearing. May adversely affect educational progress.


Video Relay Services (VRS): A service provided by interpreters to relay phone conversations between American Sign Language (ASL) users and people who do not use ASL.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): A program that provides services and supports necessary to help individuals with disabilities attain and maintain employment.

IDEA Category Definitions as defined by the Ohio Operating Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities. Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent of fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this rule. Visual impairment including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

  1. The term “visual impairment” includes both partial sight and blindness.
  2. The term “visual impairment” does not include a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes, such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.