As you know, due to the ongoing pandemic caused by COVID-19, some students will be homeschooled by parents or through online resources, the general population is in lockdown, and most activities have been altered to incorporate social distancing. A national survey was conducted by researchers at Kent State University and Texas Women’s University in order to discover more about the developments in education for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children amidst the pandemic. The survey was sent to 133 parents of DHH children. Here are five recommendations on how to educate DHH children based on the results of this survey.
1. Advocate for your DHH child and get them the services they need.
Out of the 133 participants of the survey, six indicated that their DHH child had received all services that were authorized by their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan. Some parents were frustrated about the services that were not provided and/or taking much longer to set up. There were only 23 participants who reported that their child received services from a teacher of the deaf, and two who reported receiving interpreting services. It is recommended that parents reach out to educators for the DHH; they are there to help you and your child.
2. Get access to universal design in online education programs.
Several parents reported inaccessibility to the design of online education programs for their DHH children. DHH children have a more challenging experience when following along with a person who is speaking during virtual meetings and videoconferences. This is due to the high volume of people appearing on their screen at the same time. Other obstacles included background noises, the inability to hear instructors over computer speakers, the absence of captions for announcements and videos, and captions that appeared too quickly or at an advanced reading level. It is recommended that anyone who speaks during a videoconference should raise their hand. Instructors and parents should oversee the existence, reading level, and speed of the captions to ensure that the child is getting the most out of their online learning experience.
3. Give DHH students the opportunity to socialize.
Teachers have been too busy focusing on the academic part of the school, that they may have forgotten about the importance of children socializing with one another. The freedom to socialize is currently limited for most children. For children who are DHH, this issue is particularly severe. The majority of DHH children are the only ones with hearing loss in their families, which makes the homeschooling even more isolating. DHH children who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) may not have family members to communicate with. Having online and socially distanced interactions with other DHH peers is crucial to support DHH children’s mental health during the pandemic.
4. Get DHH role models involved during lessons.
Featuring a DHH adult as a role model during lessons can help DHH children learn ways to handle challenges they may face during this time. Contact deaf education professionals and advocacy groups like Hands and Voices and the American Society for Deaf Children in order to find role models who can give advice to DHH students on how to succeed under these circumstances as someone who is DHH.
5. Communication is the key.
Every DHH child needs access to communication, no matter what devices they use to help them hear or their language preference. Make sure that DHH children are engaged in conversations at home. Mention any casual information that the other children are informed about at home, and it’s important that parents let their DHH child know that their thoughts, feelings, and anxieties are valuable and can be openly discussed.
One survey respondent noted that parents are not experienced with all of the techniques that trained professionals use to teach children. Teachers, on the other hand, do have the training and knowledge, but should not anticipate that parents have the same knowledge or will be able to immediately pick up the same techniques. Parents and teachers need to work together, as best as they can, to give the children an exceptional education.
If you, or a loved one, are in need of hearing aids, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aid brands and styles for a wide range of hearing loss. We also have the Roger Select TM microphones, an assistive listening device that can be placed at the center of a table and automatically streams the voice of the speaker directly into a Bluetooth®-connected hearing aid at a safe distance.
Please be aware that Pure Sound services will only be available by appointment and for essential visits at this time. Essential visits include all appointments that require new hearing aid fittings, repairs, and re-fittings. We ask that you please wait in your car, while wearing your mask, and place your hearing aids in a clean zip lock bag. We will come to your car to get them. If you are having any problems with your hearing aids, or need supplies for your hearing aids, please call us before visiting one of our offices.