The ABC’s of How to Help Staff with Student(s) who are Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing
When working with students with hearing loss, teachers may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of how to educate a student with hearing loss. The needs of the students vary depending on the type and degree of hearing loss. That’s when it becomes our job to educate the teachers and staff, help advocate for the student(s), and promote healthy listening for all of our students.
Pulling out the old Speech Banana really puts into prospective what your student(s) can and cannot hear. A quick lesson on hearing aids and/or cochlear implants is also necessary depending on the students in the classroom. Depending on the size of the class, having a whole class exercise to understand hearing loss is extremely beneficial as well. One easy way is to have the class participate in an activity by giving each student earplugs (like the kind you wear when your husband or boyfriend snores too loud at night! – I didn’t say that did I!? ;) but it works!). Have each student put in the earplugs while the teacher reads a story out loud as she or he typically would to the class. Following the story, initiate a group discussion of how it felt to have the ear plugs in, not being able to hear everything in the story, and feeling appreciative for the pictures in the story.
I walk into many classrooms with so much visual and auditory distractions; I’m not surprised my Deaf students are lost. Teachers forget how much more difficult it is for a student with hearing loss to focus and obtain the same information as their hearing peers. Gently remind teachers that the extra visual work needed for a student with hearing loss. Localizing the sound source does not come naturally as it does for their hearing peers. Furthermore, when scanning the room to find the sound source, they can easily become distracted by the visuals around the room (e.g. bulletin boards, signs, etc.).
During my monthly observations and consultations in the classrooms with my students who have hearing loss, I am overly-aware of the loud white noise from the heating elements, fans, or computers. I also look for the light source that may be beneficial or detrimental for the students depending on the type of lighting and the seating arrangement of the students.
That’s a good start. It’s also just as important not to overwhelm your teachers and staff with all this important information. Starting with the earplug exercise is helpful for everyone (not just the students in the classroom). It’s also a great BSHM activity for the whole school in May (you know, that month designated to us speechies!). I never say, “put yourself in their shoes” or even think it because quite frankly, I think there’s too much to think about and most of it is accidentally neglected. But as the professional on the case, try to put yourself in the student’s shoes. What do you think they are experiencing? Seeing? Hearing? Not hearing? How can you help? How can you help the teacher to make the educational process better?
The ABC’s of Working with Students with Hearing Impairments in Your Classroom:
A- Always face me when you talk.
B- Be sure to speak clearly (not fast, not slow).
C- Closed Captioned movies are helpful!
D- Don’t hold papers (or books) in front of your face.
E- Everyday re-charge the F.M. microphone & check my hearing aid (or cochlear implant).
F- F.M. systems make your voice easier to hear.
G- Give me a chance to process the information I am hearing.
H- Help other students in my class learn what hearing loss means and how it’s just like wearing eyeglasses.
I- If you give me notes, I can watch and listen more efficiently.
J- Just move your mouth normally (otherwise any speech/lip reading I’m doing will not be successful).
K- Know that when my head is down or I have a frown that I am missing information.
L- Leave the F.M. system off when you go potty or are talking to someone who I shouldn’t be included on.
M- Make sure you write important information on the board.
N- Never assume I can hear you. Get my attention first, and then talk to me.
O- “O” on my audiogram represents my right ear.
P- Pass the microphone to all my classmates when they read out loud.
Q- Quiet! When the room is noisy, I can’t hear.
R- Repeat answers or comments my classmates say. I may not be able to hear them.
S- Seat me away from extra noises in the room and close to the front.
T- Take good care of my F.M. system.
U- Use my F.M. all day everyday.
V- Volume is something I can control on my hearing aid, but not from my classmates themselves.
W- When you talk fast, I miss a lot of it.
X- X on my audiogram represents my left ear.
Y- Yelling and loud noises hurt my ears too.
Z- Zeroing in on speech/lip reading and listening all day at school is very tiring.
Download the ABC's here: ABC's of Working with Students with Hearing Impairments