Calgary Board of Education

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH)

DHH scholarship fund

Please donate to the DHH Scholarship fund! - Click here.

For full details and information, click here.

Fund set up for deaf and hard of hearing students, Nov. 9, 2012

DHH News and Documents

» Queen Elizabeth High School Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Articulation: Program Development, Enhancement, and Sustainability
» Click here for a .pdf copy of the current QEHS DHH Program Articulation document.


CBE System Communications

» CBE DHH Program Review
Update - May 15 Memo

» CBE System-Level Review of the DHH Program

» DHH Program Review Parent/Community Meeting Feedback

» DHH Program Review Q&A

» Expression of Interest

Calgary Herald Article

Click here to read about the Queen Elizabeth High School Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program in the Calgary Herald.


Welcome Letter - 2013/2014

New DHH logo

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program is very excited to announce that we have an official program logo!

The new QEHS DHH program logo is very unique and special. It was designed by students with input from students, staff, parents, and the community. It symbolizes who we are, how we are, and why we are.

It shows that we are:

  • A unique deaf and hard of hearing program and community that is integrated within the QEHS whole community;

  • A community which embraces American sign language, English, and any signed, spoken, and/or written language as equal and valuable options for communication;

  • A community which embraces individuals who are diverse in their preferences for and/or use a variety of langauges, cultures, technologies, and personal identities;

  • A community that has shared pride, respect, openness, transparency, and determination to create something that is better than it has ever been before.

Who do I contact?

Click here for a Contact Information Sheet for Parents of DHH Students.

QEHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Team Members 2013-2014

Elizabeth Croft - Learning Leader, DHH Program/Teacher of the Deaf
Michelle Dow – Teacher of the Deaf
Jacqueline Meeks – Teacher of the Deaf
Katie Thieme – Teacher of the Deaf
Shayda Cummings - Teacher
TBA - Teacher of the Deaf
Linnea Anderson – Education Assistant - DHH
Mark Duncan – Education Assistant - DHH
Cheryl Schmalzl – Education Assistant - DHH
Tracey Wilkinson-Steel - Education Assistant – DHH
Michelle Parkkari – Education Assistant
Sheri Clark - Educational Interpreter (ASL-English)
Brianne Hall – Educational Interpreter (ASL-English)
Wendy Luchtmeijer – Educational Interpreter (ASL-English)
Curtis Husum – Educational Interpreter (ASL-English)
Shannon Savoy – Educational Interpreter (ASL-English)
Steve Young – Principal, Queen Elizabeth High School

Queen Elizabeth High School Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Description

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program at Queen Elizabeth High School (QEHS) provides responsive programming, transitioning, and support for the learning strengths, preferences, and needs of d/Deaf* and hard of hearing students in grades 7-12. It utilizes a Translinguistic/Transcultural Approach within a personalized serviced delivery framework. A combination of congregation, co-enrolment, and integration environments are used, based on student needs. A variety of languages and communication methods are used, including American Sign Language (ASL) and written/spoken English. An approach that spans and integrates cultures, languages, methodologies, and approaches in order to best meet the individual strengths and needs of each student with increasing success, accountability, and transparency is also used. The program at QEHS encompasses program and curricular outcomes which are met through the use of strategies and are aimed at preparing students for success both during their education in our school and after they complete their schooling and transition into their preference of post-secondary education or training programs, entrance into a trade or field of work, or other chosen life path. The strategies used may include, but are not limited to, appropriate instructional accommodations, curricular modifications, and assistive technologies as well as program development and instructional resource design.

Involvement in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, participation in program-specific events and activities, exposure to a variety of cultures (including Deaf and hearing cultures), participation in career preparation seminars and courses, and a focus towards a whole-school approach are central to the heart of the Program. Culturally-sensitive and linguistically-sensitive practices are pursued in order to best meet the needs of our very diverse d/Deaf and hard of hearing population.

The program is well supported by a variety of highly specialized professionals, including Trained Teachers of the Deaf, Education Assistants, Qualified Educational Interpreters (ASL/English), Program Leadership, and Intervenors for the Deaf-Blind, as appropriate. Our program is further enhanced by system-level supports, such as an Educational Audiologist, Education Strategists, and Regional Educational Assessment and Consultation Services (REACH). Partnerships with outside agencies and organizations also allow DHH students to receive support from a number of other service providers, such as Speech and Language Pathologists, Youth Workers, Social Workers, Psychologists, and specialists, as needed, and to take part in programming initiatives such as the Butterfly Program. Additional support for DHH students who have additional exceptional learning needs is provided, as appropriate.

The DHH Program at Queen Elizabeth High School is committed to advancing Deaf Education in a way that allows for meaningful, relevant, and appropriate education to be fully accessible to our DHH learners so that the learners are able to rise to their full potential and pursue their vision of their own future.

*Please note the use of the term “d/Deaf” in the program description is intentional and is used to indicate inclusion of both individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and those who identify themselves as a member of the Deaf cultural community – as is sometimes preferred by the Deaf cultural community in North America

QEHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Vision

The Queen Elizabeth High School Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Program will provide an outstanding program for all of the students through leading edge practice so that every student in every class will learn socialization skills, living skills, citizenship skills, academic skills, and self-advocacy skills which will enable them to lead independent, productive lives and achieve their vision of the future.

QEHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Purpose

We will educate and empower students in the DHH Program through a Translinguistic/Transcultural approach which focuses on the development of their personal identity and facilitates their creation of a personalized vision for their future. This will be done in a way that personalizes learning and allows for flexibility in meeting students’ individual needs through Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

QEHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Core Values

  • Authenticity
  • Transparency
  • Excellence
  • Researched and Evidence-Based Best Practice
  • Collaboration
  • Respect
  • Accountability

QEHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program Outcomes for Students

The following outcomes are integral components which set our Program apart from other programs in the system. These outcomes represent what students enrolled in our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program ought to know and be able to do at the end of their three or four year high school experience in addition to meeting the Alberta Education requirements for high school completion. Students work on these outcomes in a variety of ways on a regular basis throughout their grade 7-12 enrolment with us. Some ways the outcomes may be addressed are through: curricular ties, classroom learning activities, direct instruction, extra-curricular activities, co-curricular activities, special events and presentations, the use of specific resources or learning materials, and supplementary instruction.

Students in the grade 7-12 DHH Program will:

  • in keeping with their individual abilities and gifts, complete high school with a foundation of learning to function effectively in life, work and continued learning;
  • possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for educational success and will be effectively prepared for life, work and further learning;
  • be responsible citizens by being an informed and involved member in his or her local, national and global communities;
  • acquire the skills, attitudes and knowledge to achieve personal highest potential.
  • possess the character to do what is right, act morally with wisdom, and balance individual concerns with the rights and needs of others;
  • be involved in the whole school program as citizens of QEHS;
  • learn socialization skills, living skills, and self-advocacy skills which will empower them for daily interactions and enable them to lead independent, productive lives;
  • demonstrate self-advocacy through a variety of behaviours that establish their independence, rights and freedoms, and sense of self;
  • achieve independence and autonomy;
  • be competent in communication, language, and literacy;
  • be educated about cultural, linguistic and technological assistance.
  • demonstrate the ability to effectively utilize the supports and services that are available to them in a variety of settings;
  • develop the confidence to take risks;
  • be able to celebrate and respect cultural differences;
  • leave high school having met all 5 CBE Results in culturally and linguistically appropriate ways;
  • leave high school having an awareness of community services;
  • leave high school having an awareness of successful d/Deaf adults;
  • develop a positive self-image and feeling of self-worth and a sense of personal identity;
  • develop positive understandings of both d/Deaf and hearing people and their respective languages and cultures;
  • be able to identify with, and be a part of, those cultures which best suit their individual needs;
  • develop the ability to use American Sign Language and develop the ability to read and write English and where possible speak it, as appropriate;
  • demonstrate appropriate self-advocacy skills regarding the right to communication access and the right to appropriate education from trained and qualified Deaf Education professionals, including trained Teachers of the Deaf, qualified interpreters, and other Deaf Education trained professionals;
  • be able to develop appropriate self-advocacy skills;
  • be able to access and effectively use supports that are appropriate for their needs;
  • be aware that they have the right to have qualified interpreters and the right to appeal in appropriate ways if they feel they do not have such access (Government of Alberta, 2002);
  • Learn effective communications skills, such as indicating when they do not understand the speaker or signer, initiating and maintaining communication with others, and utilizing effective communication strategies and techniques.

A 6+1 approach and the fourth year of high school

During program development, we examined the unique nature of our junior and senior high school setting. Unlike most other schools or programs, we provide service for students in grades 7 through 12. Traditionally the DHH Program has operated as if it were two separate programs within one school – one for DHH students in grades 7-9 and one for DHH students in grades 10-12. We found incongruence between the two seemingly separate programs and we noticed that students were not being adequately prepared for meeting their fullest potential as a result. We identified a need to more seamlessly transition students through the grade levels and build their skills over time to ensure higher rates of success and high school completion. We examined the then current CBE policy* on allowing students access to a fourth year of high school and determined that in the majority of cases, our DHH students would benefit from access to this additional time to develop language proficiency, successfully complete the requirements for high school diplomas or certificates, and transition effectively to post-secondary studies or training programs or work.  As a result, we developed a 6+1 approach which focuses on creating cohesive planning for high school completion and transition to further learning or work beginning in grade 7, continuing throughout grade 12, and extending beyond the 6 years of high school into the fourth year of high school that is available for students who meet the CBE criteria. We now encourage each of our DHH learners to consider taking advantage of the fourth year of high school if they meet the age requirements of the board because it allows them the time to truly develop their skills, prepare for whatever is next in their journey, and take full advantage of a government funded education that is tailored to the needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing learners.

With this in mind, we now endeavor to work with students and parents/guardians to plan the junior and senior high school experience of each individual so that we can consistently work with each student where they are at today while building their capacity for the future. We endeavor to meet the current needs in a way that intentionally positions each student to arrive at their desired destination while remaining responsive and flexible to any challenges or changes that arise along the way. We also work with students to begin identifying and planning their education now so that they have the courses and programming streams required for entry into their chosen post-secondary programs, training programs, or field of future work. We emphasize that taking non-traditional configurations of courses or taking courses from multiple programming streams wherever appropriate may best meet the needs of individual students and that we can flex and shift over time to build students up to where they want to go in the future.

*NOTE: Since establishing the 6+1 year approach, a new Education Act was passed by the Alberta Government. In response to the new Education Act, the Program will await further direction from the Calgary Board of Education and will then examine ways of extending the 6+1 approach into a potential 6+4 approach which will allow students until age 21 to complete high school through publically funded education. At this time, we are also developing an updated recommended course sequence plan which will assist students, families, and staff in making programming and course placement decisions.

Student Voice

A very important component in the program and in daily activities within the program is student voice. A specific emphasis has been given to establishing opportunities and activities which allow our DHH students to develop their own voice, understand self-advocacy, and become increasingly engaged in and responsible for aspects of their education and life as well as the program and the school. As students grow and develop, the program offers opportunities for students to explore a variety of perspectives, become educated on topics that matter or are of interest to them, and find meaningful, effective, and appropriate ways to express their own voice in ways that positively affect their world on all levels. Students are encouraged and supported in developing the skills needed to make lifelong decisions and students are encouraged to take part in informing the decisions that affect them currently as students in our program. To do so, students work with program leadership, program staff, school staff, and their peers in a variety of ways, including informing how specific program components are designed and delivered, the types of supports, services, accommodations, and modifications that are used by them in different situations, and informing the unique learning situations and opportunities available to them. Students have direct input into the types and levels of support they access in different courses or settings and our focus is on developing their skills to self-direct and self-choose the types and levels of supports which best suit their needs and preferences across situations. Students are encouraged to become involved in leadership, student senate, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities in order to develop and express their voice within the program and whole school environments.

Service delivery methods, languages of instruction, and programming streams

At QEHS, we offer a range of service delivery methods and programming streams to DHH students. Students can access congregated, integrated, co-enrolled, and/or combined service delivery methods in a range of Alberta Education junior and senior high school programming streams. Service is often provided in American Sign Language and/or English, depending on the needs and language learning preferences of each student. We aim to flex between methods, languages, programming streams, and approaches to best meet the needs of each individual student.

During our program development initiative, we examined the service delivery methods previously offered by the Program at each grade level and we restructured how we meet student needs in order to be more responsive to each individual student rather than continuing to make service delivery and programming decisions based on age or chronological grade level of enrolment. We no longer offer congregated programming only for junior high school students and we now work towards a co-enrollment model where a cohort of DHH students are integrated into community classrooms together with wrap-around supports at both the junior and senior high school levels, where appropriate. By strategically programming students and allocating resources, we aim to more effectively deliver service which aligns with student needs and which ensures a level of accessibility that was not previously available.
We have increased flexibility and access for students while emphasizing a focus on developing independence and capability rather than aid-dependence. We believe that this represents a significant philosophical shift in the Program and a departure from past deficit-based paradigms which focused on fixing, rehabilitating, or working in a predominantly remedial model of instruction. Instead, our current service delivery models and programming streams focus on the strengths of each student, on capacity building within a 6+1 year academic plan, and on strengthening the academic foundations each student has for future success.

We offer congregated classes for students who are best taught alongside their Deaf and Hard of Hearing peers. The congregated classes allow for reduced teacher-to-student ratios and instruction is often provided in a combination approach which allows teaching staff and support staff to modify instruction to the needs of the student(s) in each situation. This often involves a combination of American Sign Language, spoken English, written English, and visual representations. Students may also incorporate some forms of signed English modalities, gesture, or their own home sign systems as they explore American Sign Language and English language development, curriculum, and content-area learning. Life skill, social-emotional development, cultural awareness, and identity formation are often woven throughout the learning activities in order to meet the pre-academic and para-academic needs of each learner. Currently, a project-based approach is used to infuse cross-curricular outcomes into a cohesive learning unit that is often more meaningful to the learners, resulting in increased learning, retention of concepts, and development of overall academic, application, and life skills.

We offer integration into community classrooms for students who are best taught in those settings.  Our approach to integrating more closely resembles a co-enrolment approach than a traditional integration approach because we seek to group DHH students who have similar academic levels and integrate them as a cohort with wrap-around supports in place for the entire group and the entire class wherever possible. This approach has been shown to address more of the social-emotional, peer-support, and academic learning needs of DHH students that integrating single DHH students because they are able to draw from both a critical mass of Deaf and Hard of Hearing peers in their group as well as from the hearing peer group in English and/or American Sign Language. This approach also affords a more integrated approach to providing support for each learner in the class, rather than just for a single DHH learner. By supporting the entire class and the entire DHH cohort, all teaching and support staff in the room can more effectively interact with all of the learners, putting them on a more even playing field and reducing the effects of learned helplessness resulting from aid-dependence. Likewise, when technological supports are made accessible to all students in the room, regardless of identified needs and codes, all students are less likely to single out those students who have access to technology and support and are more likely to experience the positive benefits of having additional access for everyone. The DHH and hearing students in these cases become more equal in their ability to access the instructional environment, are more likely to experience fewer barriers or differences among themselves, and are more likely to experience an increased ease of interaction between everyone in the room. This often results in a more truly integrated educational experience.

In the combination approach, students are able to be educated in congregated settings for some subjects while being educated in integrated or co-enrolled settings for other subjects. This is done based on individual need, availability, and appropriate match for each individual’s unique learning needs.

A unique new feature of our Program is the creation of specialized DHH course offerings for students who primarily receive instruction in integrated or co-enrolled settings. These new course offerings, when available and when they work with a student’s timetable, ensure that DHH students have time with their DHH peers in multiage groupings. In these courses, students are able to receive instruction in Alberta Education courses, receive remedial support and instruction based on individual needs, and explore Locally Developed Course content that matches their interests and needs.

For each method of educational service delivery, students may enrol in the dash-1, dash-2, Knowledge and Employability (K&E) course streams. The dash-1 and dash-2 course streams lead to a high school diploma when students have met the course and credit requirements of Alberta Education. The K&E stream leads to a K&E certificate of high school completion once the Alberta Education course and credit requirements are met. Students are able to switch between the course streams at any time based on what is best for their individual needs; this may be done one a subject-by-subject basis or for all enrolled courses. For students with additional needs, alternate pathways to exiting high school are available and are discussed with Program leadership on a case-by-case basis. DHH Program leadership acts as the primary coordinator for all programming streams for DHH students and may work with other school or system-level staff to co-coordinate as needed.

To further meet student needs, QEHS has established weekly homeroom periods over the past two years. The DHH Program has established one homeroom within this structure for all DHH learners so that we are able to have all students in the program together each week. This promotes a sense of belonging, social interaction amongst the different age and grade levels within the DHH Program, and consistent contact time with program staff. Students have been reporting that the homeroom time is valuable when it is structured in this way and that they have experienced increased feelings of belonging to a team. Staff members have likewise reported positive influences as a result and have noticed increased group cohesiveness as a result. 

Remedial support and tutorial

Our program recognizes that many of our Deaf and Hard of Hearing learners require remedial instruction, support, and/or tutorial in order to more thoroughly understand the background knowledge, instructional content, and application of that knowledge effectively in their classes. Because of this, our teachers often volunteer to make themselves available by request or during set tutorial times. Currently, tutorial and remedial support sessions are offered before or after school by special request and during lunchtime on 3-5 days per week or by special request. Our support staff members also often volunteer to make themselves available as needed to deepen student learning and support individual needs by special request if a certificated staff member is not available or if the support staff member is the best person to provide the support. Students are encouraged to take advantage of this support and to contact any of the DHH Program staff members if they have specific needs for support. Students are also encouraged to engage their classroom teachers, who are often more than happy to provide additional support before and after school, during lunchtime, or in class.

QEHS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program assistive technology, accommodations, modifications, strategies, and programming considerations

At Queen Elizabeth High School, we endeavour to effectively evaluate student needs in order to allow for the implementation of appropriate accommodations, modifications, and strategies which allow all students full accessibility to a high quality education. In the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, we often employ a number of accommodations, modifications, technology, strategies, and programming considerations in a way that consider program and student needs and facilitate increased success in achieving program and curricular outcomes, such as:

  • Programming and placement (i.e. congregated, integrated, co-enrolment, and combined settings);
  • Linguistic sensitivity (i.e. instruction and communication via written English, Oral/Aural English, American Sign Language, visual representation, gesture/signed modalities, respect for all languages);
  • Cultural sensitivity (i.e. respect and integration of all cultures, including Deaf culture, hearing culture, hard of hearing culture, and ethnic cultures);
  • Staffing (i.e. Trained Teachers of the Deaf, Education Assistants, Educational Interpreters, Intervenors for the Deaf Blind, School Assistants, Learning Leaders, Administrators, and System Level Personnel; staff allocation, deployment, and roles/responsibilities)’
  • Acoustic modifications (i.e. Hush Ups, noise reducing surfaces, physical space allocation);
  • Specialized Technology, Equipment, and Access Services (i.e. acoustic amplification devices, Frequency Modulation (FM) systems, classroom amplification, SMARTboards, videoconferencing equipment, digital multimedia resources, computing technology, closed captioned televisions, print enlargement devices, real-time voice-to-text services (CART) and transcription, visual displays, and video remote interpreting (VRI));
  • Curricular accommodations (i.e. additional test time, additional assignment time, reduced number of questions on repetitive assignments, tutorial sessions, alternate formats for exams and assignments, alternate presentation for instruction, sign language interpretation, Braille);
  • Curricular modifications (i.e. adapted instructional content, modified units of study, modified instructional materials, modified reading materials, modified assignments and exams);
  • Preferential seating (for increased auditory and visual access, decreased distractibility, and/or mobility needs);
  • Strategic programming to allow for increased supports and services as well as exposure to a variety of learning opportunities;
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing course offerings, extra-curricular events, and co-curricular events;
  • System-level support and outside agencies (Butterfly program, Educational Audiologist, Speech and Language services, Student Health Partnership, Specialists/Strategists, etc);
  • Personalized exceptions and supports based on individual identified needs.

Program position on the use of assistive technologies, accommodations, and supports and services

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program has adopted an education-based approach to supporting students in the use of assistive technologies, accommodations, and supports and services. We aim to respect individual student choice while building each student’s ability to consult with their families and make decisions that best meet their own needs across situations. In doing so, we aim to increase student voice, responsibility, and decision-making. Throughout the transitions each student makes into, through, and out of our program, we aim to form a base of support, consultation, and education that empowers and equips students to make good decisions in all areas of academics and life.

All assistive technologies, accommodations, supports, and services approved and available for a student are documented on the Individualized Program Plan (IPP). Students may then access the same across a variety of learning and/or exam situations based on individual need and preference. No student is forced to access any assistive technology, accommodation, support, or service; however, students are educated about them and supported in accessing them if they wish to do so. Family decision-making about the use of assistive technologies, accommodations, supports, and services is respected and students are encouraged to discuss their use of each with parent(s)/guardian(s). Where there is a strong desire by parent(s)/guardian(s) for a student to use a specific assistive technology, accommodation, support, or service, we will endeavour to be aware of the parent-and-child decision, support students in following through, and facilitating communication between school and home if there are observed or stated changes to the original decisions made by students and families.

Further to this, the Program recognizes that as students grow and develop, they often arrive at a new level of independent decision-making which requires accurate information, self-awareness and reflective personal experience, decision-making strategies, and the support of parents, peers, and staff. To assist in this process, we will continue to discuss with each student their individual needs, preferences, and decisions while educating them in a way that builds their capacity for making good decisions based on what is best for themselves.  We will also remain flexible in the changing needs and decisions made so that students can try different things over time and reverse or change their decisions where they realize that another decision might be best after all. Students are also educated on dynamic decision making whereby they can opt to use some assistive technologies, accommodations, supports, or services in one situation and not another, based on all of the contributing factors that are unique to various situations. In this, we hope to instill a healthy ability for students to make dynamic and flexible decisions that are contextually based rather than feeling that they must make all-or-nothing/black-or-white definitive decisions.

For further information on the program, please see our Program Development, Enhancement, and Sustainability Articulation Document.

CBE deaf and hard of hearing web page

Please direct any inquiries related to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program to:
Elizabeth Croft,, 403.777.6380 ext 2004