Teachers and educators should know there are many ways hearing loss can impact students, affecting their learning, their confidence and even their emotions in the classroom. Being aware of some of the challenges students with hearing loss face may help you work more closely with your students and develop solutions to help them.
Many students with hearing loss do not want to be identified as being different from their peer group. Having an informed class and creating a space where self-advocacy is encouraged is the first step to creating an environment where students with hearing loss can build their confidence, feel accepted and be empowered to learn. We suggest having a conversation with your student and their parents on how best to approach this situation and what information they are comfortable sharing with the wider class.
Six steps teachers can take to help students with hearing loss
- Do not talk with your back to the class. Speak naturally in a clear voice at a regular rate. Consider using a True Wireless™ Mini Microphone 2+ to stream audio to the student’s sound processor. Or if there is access to a sound field system or speaker system in the classroom, take advantage of the technology. Position your student so that they are in the best spot to receive auditory and visual information from the teacher and fellow classmates
- Create a buddy system for note taking. Have another student share their notes with the student with hearing loss. That way they can maintain focus on the teacher and visual cues and not worry about keeping up with note taking.
- Rephrase – don’t repeat the same words. If the student doesn’t understand what was said the first time, say it in a different way the second time. Repeat questions or comments posed by other students before responding or calling on the next student. If classmates are not speaking clearly, summarize their comments once they’re done speaking.
- Write key information on the board. Put project due dates, diagrams and other key bits of information on the board. When appropriate consider creating supplemental handouts for all students.
- Check on your student discreetly. Are they following the lesson and can they hear in the classroom? Offer a 1:1 meeting with your student outside of class to give them the opportunity to ask you questions they may be too shy to ask in front of other students.
- Encourage sharing their story. If your student is enthusiastic about sharing their story provide an opportunity to do so in class. This is a great way for students to build their confidence and inform other students on how a cochlear implant works. It may also make future peer interactions more effective and promote better classroom participation.
In addition to these tips, it’s also important to be sensitive to the emotional needs of your student. They may be hesitant to draw attention to their hearing loss in the classroom. Communicate with your student to find the balance between optimizing learning, supporting their needs and encouraging them to voice their needs in the classroom.
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