Luckner, John L.

Committee Member

Bowen, Sandy K.

Committee Member

Davis, Jackie

Committee Member

Hanks, Julie A.


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Special Education


University of Northern Colorado

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Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



158 pages

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Born digital


Austin, Natalie J. Rural cochlear implant services: Reflections from parents and (re)habilitation professionals. Published Doctor of Philosophy dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 2020. The idea of what “rural” means and the influence of this setting is very complex. The impact on the resources and services available to the family, school district, and community goes beyond geographic barriers. Despite there being known problems with service provision for children with hearing loss in rural areas, little is being done to improve the support offered to families and professionals working to meet the needs of children who have cochlear implants. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to take a deeper and more intimate look at service provision for children with cochlear implants in rural areas from the perspective of parents and the professionals who serve them. Seven parents and seven professionals were interviewed about their experiences. Open-ended interview questions were asked with the goal of identifying themes around the overall impact, challenges, and systems of support related to living and working outside of a city center with children who have cochlear implants. Findings related to the overall experiences of living and working in a rural setting were discussed in terms of the simplicity of rural life, benefits of small class sizes, the added commitment for parents, the importance of family involvement, and the need to be creative to meet students’ unique needs. When looking at the challenges with rural services, issues surrounding logistics, parent motivation, local resources, school support, and local teams were highlighted as causes of difficulty. There were many sources of support discussed including positive opportunities for family advocacy, school services, local professionals, outside support services, and the enhancement of peer connections. Due to the paucity of research on service improvement for children with cochlear implants in rural settings, this study will contribute to the body of inquiry on this topic and in turn highlight meaningful implications for the field. Participants in this study were from rural counties within one midwestern state. Future studies would benefit from looking at participants from a range of rural locations throughout the country. Keywords: cochlear implants, rural, deaf, hard-of-hearing, habilitation, rehabilitation, multidisciplinary team

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