Hearing Loss Statistics in Children
School is back in session, and it’s imperative that teachers and school administrators help students who have hearing loss.
Three out of 1,000 children are born with hearing loss, while 15% of kids can develop hearing loss. Hearing loss that goes unaddressed can lead to learning difficulties and other obstacles, particularly with verbal communication
An Educator’s Responsibility
Fortunately, teachers and administrators can do something to help with a child’s needs, in order to reduce any struggles and give the child an opportunity to achieve their full potential. It is highly suggested that these options are discussed in parent-teacher conferences or during Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) meetings, so that everyone is on the same page.
Typically, children who have hearing loss need specific accommodations in order to achieve their fullest potential. Most children will have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This is a legally binding plan that lists the additional help that the student needs, and the standards that they should strive towards.
Additional Tips for Teachers
1. Understand Your Student’s Hearing Loss and their Needs
A hearing system is complicated. Those with hearing loss do not simply need to make sounds louder, they also need to hear clearly. Learn about the type of hearing loss your student has, so that you can better accommodate them. It would also be helpful to learn about the student’s hearing aid device. You may discover different ways to use this technology in the classroom that would be more helpful to your student.
2. Use Better Communication with the Student
When you walk across the room, or need to write on the boars, do not talk while your face is turned away from the student. Some people who have hearing loss can read lips. The student will be able to comprehend more of what you are stating, if he or she has a view of your face while you speak. One piece of advice is to not speak when your face is turned away from the students.
Be more expressive with your face and body language to focus on important information. Nonverbal signals can help a student better understand. Do not exaggerate or be too extreme with these expressions.
Provide a copy of notes from the lesson, so that the student does not have to focus too
hard on writing the notes as they listen. You may also assign the student with a classmate who is a good note-taker and listens carefully so that the student can get any missed notes from this classmate, or have instructions reiterated to them.
Turn the caption setting on if you show any videos or films.
You can share a discrete signal, like a “thumbs down”, with the student to express when they are having difficulty with hearing.
3. Arrange Your Classroom with a more welcoming Environment
If it is possible to reorganize the desks, try placing them in a circle or semi-circle so that the student can see their peers and make it easier for them to comprehend what is being said. Some who are hearing impaired can read lips, so the ability to see everyone’s face can help them. This will also help the student become more likely to engage with others and feel involved.
Many hard of hearing students may need a designated area to sit in order for them to hear better. If your student wears a cochlear implant in their left ear, they may prefer to sit where their implant is faced towards most of the class.
It’s generally helpful if the student is seated in the front, or first couple of rows. This allows them to turn around and observe the students speaking, instead of having the student’s backs facing them.
Point to students and state their names when you call on them. This will help direct the student’s attention to the person who is speaking, which will reduce the chance of them missing what was stated. It is also helpful if the other students stand up if they are going to speak, to make it more clear as to who is talking.
4. Decrease as much background noise as possible
Keep the classroom door and windows shut, to reduce outer noises. This could also help everyone in class.
Place tennis balls on the legs of chairs, desks and tables. This will reduce noises when students move around.
If the class has tiled floors, place down some pieces of carpet. This will help the room’s acoustics and will absorb any other distracting noises.
5. Discover other Accommodations
CART Reporters: These are individuals who may be present in the classroom, or work remotely through Skype. They type everything that is said during the class on a stenographer’s keyboard, and the report is shown on the student’s laptop in real-time. This would help the student follow class discussions and would greatly improve their participation. Repeating or summarizing what is said by other students, and making sure only one person speaks at a time, can help the CART reporter if they miss something or if the conversation is moving too quickly.
FM System: An FM system is a personal listening device, that uses a microphone which is worn around a teacher’s neck. The microphone is connected to the student’s hearing device, and allows them to hear clearer and louder. Do not chew gum or eat when you’re wearing this system. The student will be able to hear all of the sounds that come close to the microphone.
Interpreters: Interpreters can be used for anyone who knows American Sign Language (ASL) and are in need of someone to communicate with them through sign language. The interpreter would be present in the classroom to sign the lesson and anything else being said for the student. The teacher would teach, like normal, and the student would focus on the interpreter. Some students will use the interpreter to translate their own words, some may only need the interpreter to translate their speech to others. Make sure your student and their interpreter can see one another.
Be Mindful of the Child’s Habits and other Factors in the Environment
Those who have not experienced hearing loss may not know to recognize the habits of a hard of hearing individual, or notice environmental factors that may cause them to miss vital sounds. It’s crucial to keep these things in mind, especially in a classroom.
Too much sunlight or darkness can make it difficult for the hearing impaired student to determine who is speaking. Sunlight might obstruct the hard of hearing student’s view of the speaker’s mouth, whereas darkness can make it difficult to see who is talking.
Chewing on anything from gum to throat lozenges might make it difficult to read lips and comprehend. Having anything in your mouth while you speak changes the way you form words, so this may confuse those who can read lips, or use an FM System.
Also be aware of background noises in the classroom. A squeaky door, fan, air conditioner noises from your computer, or any other disruptive sounds could distract the student. Have them seated as far away from these noises as possible.
Be More Accessible
Try to use as many visual aids as possible. This helps a person with hearing loss by giving them better context of the lesson, if they miss something. Printed diagrams are useful as handouts to the whole class. It interacts with other sections of the brain and improves memory.
Videos are a great visual aid, but make sure they have captions. Not all captions are accurate, so make sure the captions are accurate before playing the video. You can try showing the video to the student before class, have their CART reporter caption it live, or search for a transcript through the internet. It is recommended that you do not give your student a quiz on the information that was shown, unless there was a copy of the notes of a transcript for them to look at.
It could be tough for hearing impaired students to follow the lecture while taking notes. If you have notes that are cited as you teach, provide a copy for the student. This will help them keep up with the lesson. If there are digital files from a website, share them and make the files easily accessible. You may also give the entire class a copy of the notes, so as not to single out the student who is hard of hearing.
A fellow student can be helpful by taking notes. That student can write down what the hearing impaired student misses. Carbon copy paper pads, at a reasonable price, are very useful in this case. This avoids the need to make copies, and the student can receive the copy as soon as class is over.
Check in with the hearing impaired student. It is vital to make sure the notes are accurate, effective and beneficial. You can have the note-taker email you a copy, or provide you with the carbon copy to look over before giving it to the hard of hearing student. This is a good way to examine the note-taking process and make any adjustments that may be necessary.
Discuss Your Student’s Hearing Loss with Them
If there is a student in your class who has hearing loss, ask what would be the most helpful way for them to learn. Find out what works best for them, and check in with them often to help both of you feel comfortable and confident.
Everyone feels different about openly discussing their hearing loss and personal needs regarding it, especially in front of their classmates. Keep discussions about the student’s hearing loss and accommodations private, and talk to the student.
You can do subtle things to help your student hear better without drawing attention to them, or interrupting the class. If you notice another student is not talking loud or clearly, sum up what they said after they finished talking.
Your student may be eager to let others know about their hearing loss. This will be helpful down the road, and can make communicating with one another more efficient. It would give you and the student a chance to educate others about hearing loss. If the student knows sign language, try to learn a few key signs. It can be a lesson shared with the rest of the students.
It’s an important reminder that the student with hearing loss is there to learn and be social with others. Even though they hear and interact with others differently, you can learn so much from them.
If you, or a loved one, are in need of hearing aids contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation.