Kirsten Marconi-Hutkay

Most audiologists go to work inside hospitals or private medical practices. But Kirsten Marconi-Hutkay’s office is a classroom—and she often finds herself in a different classroom every day.

Marconi-Hutkay is an educational audiologist, tasked with evaluating students for hearing loss and helping hearing-impaired students get and properly use the appropriate equipment they need to hear clearly in the classroom.

“I never have a typical day, which is one of the reasons I love my job,” said Marconi-Hutkay, a native of southern Ohio who came to Stark County for her externship while pursuing her doctorate at the University of Akron.

Marconi-Hutkay is one of three educational audiologists on staff at the Stark County Educational Service Center. She, Susan Bussard and Alyse Rante-Musisca provide hearing services for children in 16 Stark County school districts, as well as students in neighboring districts through a contract. (Canton City Schools employs its own audiologist.)

“My job kind of picks up when the kid leaves Akron Children’s (Hospital) and goes into the world,” Marconi-Hutkay said. “… We are helping these kids deal with life.”

When she’s not visiting schools, Marconi-Hutkay is at the county’s audiology center, where she can perform full diagnostic evaluations for a child referred for a screening. Marconi-Hutkay said most counties do not have their own stand-alone audiology center, instead relying on portable equipment that limits the type of diagnostic tests that can be performed.

She said many Ohio counties also do not have an educational audiologist available—let alone three—due to strained finances and a recent rash of retirements. This school year, the Ohio Department of Education has licensed 30 educational audiologists for Ohio’s 88 counties.

“There should be 100,” Marconi-Hutkay said. “There are many districts not served at all. I think the hearing-impaired students are a very underserved population.

“In Stark County, we are pretty lucky,” she said.

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Kelli Weir

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One Response

  1. deafdeaf

    Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation:

    The term “Hearing Impaired” is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one’s disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word “impaired” along with “visual”, “hearing”, and so on. “Hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people. This term was popular in the 70s and 80s, however, now is used mostly by doctors, audiologists and other people who are mainly interested in our ears “not working.”

    While it’s true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn’t make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant).

    We are deaf, and not people with impairments (obstacles) in life!

    Hope that you and your people respect by refusing to use the outdated and offensive term. Hearing loss is more acceptable for everyone who is not just deaf.


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