Welcome to the beginning of the school year! Every student experiences a mix of anticipation and excitement at the prospect of a brand-new academic year—new teachers, new classmates, new curriculum and new adventures to look forward to.
For Cochlear™ recipients in mainstream schools, there are unique challenges that come every August. You’re entering a unique environment with people who may not understand your hearing needs and how to best accommodate them in the classroom.
Everyone has slightly different needs in the educational environment, and there’s no bulletproof formula to ensure a perfect year. But here are some tips on how to make the classroom experience as seamless as possible, for this year and the rest of your K-12 academic career:
- Send a letter or email to your teachers before classes start, explaining what your device is and how they can best accommodate you in the classroom. There’s no harm in letting them know early, so they have time to do research and prepare their classroom accordingly. You may also want to schedule an in-person meeting to make sure you’re on the same page.
- Register for IEP/504 and begin a dialogue with your school’s administration about your needs. Even if you can’t think of any immediate accommodations you might need, it’s important to have a record on file, so if you need anything down the line you’ll have written proof of your hearing loss.
- Begin sitting in on IEP/504 meetings as early as possible. Attending those meetings beginning in 3rd or 4th grade is a great way to leave about the services you have/need and how to become an effective self-advocate.
- Talk with your class about hearing loss and Cochlear Implants / Baha devices. Often your classmates may not understand hearing loss nor the solutions—but that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to learn! You can either make a PowerPoint presentation or bring in an audiologist/ hearing specialist to inform the other students of what to expect. Bonus points for bringing a model or backup processor that the other students can pass around.
- Formulate a backup plan in case your batteries die or your equipment malfunctions. It’s always a good idea to keep some spare batteries in the nurse’s office in case of emergency.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need! Just because you have a Cochlear Implant or Baha device doesn’t mean you can’t ask for additional resources. Classroom services designed to help you include preferential seating, closed captioning, CART, transcripts, FM systems, note-takers, and written instructions.
- Check and see if anything can be done to improve classroom acoustics. You may be able to reduce reverberation in the classroom by adding carpeting, posters, and plants, or by putting tennis balls on the bottoms of chairs to prevent a scraping noise. Also make sure your teacher knows to speak directly to the class without blocking their face. Little adjustments can make a big difference!
- Use your wireless accessories to your get the best sound in every situation. Cochlear has a variety of different wireless options that are easy to use and can make a big difference in your ability to hear—in and outside of the classroom. Check out the Wireless Accessories page to learn more about ways you can improve your hearing experience.