Attending and excelling in school can be a challenging feat for children of any age and ability. The school environment itself can be a complex web of social, environmental, and personal factors that all work together to either help or hinder a child’s ability to learn. When you consider children with hearing loss, the challenge increases exponentially.
Teamwork is vital for success
When a child has been diagnosed with hearing loss or other hearing impairment, it takes a team of professionals working together with the child and her family to provide the best chance for success. By assessing the current environment, they can then determine what modifications can and should be made to provide the optimal learning environment to match the child’s needs and abilities. An all-star team includes the child herself, her immediate family, teachers, school administrative staff, and an audiologist, just to name a few.
Common school accommodations for children with hearing loss
Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss is an organization whose primary mission is to “improve the futures of children with hearing loss”. As such, they have identified the following as meaningful ways to modify the school environment for children with a hearing impairment:
- Amplification and assistive devices
- These include things like hearing aids, personal FM systems, and TDD or TV captioning.
- Communication accommodations
- These are specific ways in which the teacher can help make sure that the material being taught is actually reaching and being understood by the student.
- Offer preferred seating arrangements
- Reduce visual and auditory distractions in the classroom
- Present information with simple, clear speech
- Repeat, rephrase, and check for understanding
- Physical environment accommodations
- Carpet or other noise-reducing materials in the classroom
- Specialized lighting to allow for accurate lip reading, note taking, or using sign language
- Safety – flashing fire alarm instead of sound only
- Room design modifications to allow for a quieter environment or a sign language interpreter
- Instructional accommodations
- Use of visual aids to supplement teaching materials
- Note taking or transcription services
- Extra time for exams or assignment completion
- Curricular and evaluation modifications
- Shortened or modified writing and reading assignments
- Supplemental materials, alternative curriculum, or a tutor
- Reduced length or quantity of tests
- Provide reading assistance with tests and allow extra time
Modifications for the hearing impaired in colleges or universities
If the above accommodations prove successful during a child’s younger years, these helpful modifications to the learning environment can even be carried over into college.
Most higher education facilities welcome individuals of all abilities. Some, like the University of Texas at Austin, even have tips for working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing. These include simple ways in which the instructor can modify the delivery of material being taught so that a student with a hearing impairment is not put at a disadvantage.
Similarly, the University of South Florida also provides a list of accommodations for students with a hearing loss or deafness. These run the gamut from providing a sign language interpreter to coordinating special seating, offering transcription services, and the use of Assistive Listening Devices.
The bottom line is that no child should be left behind to struggle through learning just because they have a hearing impairment. If you need help figuring out where to start, talk to one of our friendly audiologists – they’ll be happy to provide suggestions for how to meet your child’s specific hearing needs in the school environment.
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