Posted in Teaching Life

Tips for Classroom Teachers: Supporting Students with Hearing Loss

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I am always thinking about how I can better serve my students and my classroom teachers. I try to remind myself that I may have years of experience with my students, but for a classroom teacher, a Deaf or Hard of Hearing student my be a once in a career experience. It is my job to support everyone on a students team. Starting the school year with clear expectations and strategies helps everyone. These are some tips and suggestions I use to get us all off to a great start.

Seating

The student must sit where it is easiest to access auditory information and/or their interpreter if he/she has one.  This is usually towards the front of the class and towards the side with the aided or implanted ear facing the teacher and away from distracting noise sources: fans, computers or open windows.

During small groups and peer partner work the D/HH student should be seated in a way that optimizes interactions and communication with peers.

Visual Learning

Visual aids help support auditory information. Videos and DVDs can be hard to understand and MUST have captioning.  This is something that I am always reminding teachers to do. I also remind my students that they too can ask for the captioning to be turned on. Often my younger students are still learning how to advocate, so they report a non captioned moment to me and I circle back to the teacher for a reminder. At times I have used my session time to re-watch videos and clips. Access is the priority.

Be aware that while writing on the board, the student is likely to miss most of what is said; important information should be clearly displayed.

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Communication

Help with speech reading by: speaking naturally and facing the student.

The student may find it difficult if not impossible to take notes in a lecture style lesson.  If student does not have a personal note taker, a copy of class notes is extremely helpful. 

Repetition, rewording, and re-phrasing are necessary.

Check the student’s comprehension by asking SPECIFIC questions, not yes or no questions.

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Hearing Equipment

Personal FM systems:  These vary based on the student’s hearing needs and parent-provided hearing equipment. It “reduces” the distance between the teacher’s voice and the student in the classroom while maintaining speech intelligibility, helping the student to better receive auditory information.

If student uses an FM system please remember to wear the transmitter and speak naturally.

Remember to mute or remove microphone when you’re NOT working with the student: small group, testing or the restroom.

The hearing aid(s), BAHA or cochlear implant does not give the student normal hearing.  Distance from speaker, background noise, and the nature of the hearing loss all contribute to a student’s ability to understand speech.

I like to go over any FM equipment and when the student is present I like to show how their personal equipment works. My littles always need battery support. This is a case by case situation when I am addressing needs of my students. Some information overlaps, but the student’s individual needs and the IEP drive the in-service train.

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Student’s Role

I like to approach my teachers with a positive and team mentality. The student is part of the team, so they too have to play an active part in their learning, communication and advocate for their needs.

  • Use self-advocacy skills such as asking repetition and clarification regarding information given by teachers and peers as necessary.
  • Wear  all hearing devices consistently.
  • Sit directly in front and within good proximity of the primary speaker.
  • Advocate and participate in peer groups.
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Resource Guide

I have created a tip sheet for my teachers. I have found this is very helpful and teachers will refer to it if they are overwhelmed from an in-service. I try my best to be clear, calm and informative at an in-service meeting, but having the sheet for a post meeting resource is priceless.

These tips and ideas have always worked for me. I hope that you can incorporate these into your practices. This information sheet is a helpful tool in providing some basic structure and support when I am in-servicing. I always use the student’s IEP and individual hearing information from the audiogram for the majority of my information, but these tips are very neutral and easy for teachers to digest.