Bergen County Communications Continuum

The Bergen County Communications Continuum (BCCC) provides a dual-track system for children with hearing loss.

The AV or Auditory Oral component operates in partnership with the Midland Park School District. The 7th through 12th grade program is housed at Midland Park High School. Students in grades 3-6 attend Highland School. Students in grades 2 and below attend Godwin School. All of these schools are mainstream in the sense that students with typical hearing make up the majority of the student body. For example, one second grade class, observed in September 2009, had 16 students with typical hearing and four with hearing loss. These schools house concentrations of professional resources (an audiologist, several speech therapists, and several teachers of the deaf) that support those students who have hearing loss. Enrollment in the AV component varies from the high 70s to the high 80s in the elementary grades. AV high school enrollment in the fall of 2009 was 23. Within the AV program, each student works towards an over-arching goal of transferring back to his or her local school. Such transfers can happen at any grade level. The BCCC program also supervises itinerant teachers who support students in their local schools.

The TC (total communication/ASL) component is located in the Hackensack Public Schools District. The TC track serves 38 elementary school students and 11 high school students. There is one pre-K class in the TC component and three pre-K classes on the AV side. Sometimes students join the program in kindergarten without having participated in a pre-K class.

Students tend to join the Communications Continuum program at any time during the course of their educational career. Students who enter in 4th through 6th grade usually floundered in local school districts where they tried to do the educating themselves. These students come with huge academic gaps and self esteem issues in tow and often are very difficult to remediate at that time.

Local school districts pay tuition to Bergen County Special Services District. Tuition is in the high $50,000 range per student. Because local districts are usually small, they cannot accommodate students with hearing loss and provide the full scope of necessary services to this population. It would cost a local district well over $50,000 for Teacher of the Deaf support, audiological, CART or Interpreting services, and speech therapy support. These are the primary services the local district is contracting for when send a child to the BCCC program.

The program director is Kathleen Treni, a nationally known deaf educator, who is president of the Alexander Graham Bell Association.