Resources for Classroom Teachers (Auditory Impaired Issues)

Tips for the Classroom Teacher

Tips for the Classroom Teacher

Learning Difficulties for the Hearing Impaired

Classroom Environment Poses Challenges to Kids with Hearing Loss

© Karen Plumley

Dec 14, 2008
Vocalvolume, listening distance, and background noise are the three majorclassroom factors to be considered when teaching a child with specialhearing needs.


Parents of children with hearingdisabilities will quickly learn how to communicate with themeffectively at home. They will know how close they need to be and atwhat volume their voices must be kept for the child to interpret what isbeing said. With early intervention and available technology such ashearing aids and cochlear implants, language and learning delays thatwere once thought to be a forgone conclusion can be minimized.

Dueto these advancements in technology and understanding, many morehearing impaired children are able to enter into mainstream preschoolsand kindergartens with exceptional communication and listening skills.But there are environmental factors that exist in a classroom that willaffect their ability to listen, learn, and keep up with their peers.

Importance of Listening Range and Volume for Special Needs Child

Therange of an impaired child’s hearing ability is well defined in a quietspace. If a caregiver or teacher is out of that “listening bubble” andthe child is not watching intently, she will be unaware that an attemptat communication is occurring. It is very important that the studentwith partial hearing loss is placed very near the teacher at all timesduring lessons.

Here are a few other suggestions to aid a child with a limited listening range:

  • Use visual aids during lessons
  • Write major points on the board
  • Provide handouts of important topic information
  • Speak loudly and clearly
  • Face the students when speaking
  • Arrange classroom in a circle so child can see everyone
  • Speak slowly and repeat ideas in different ways
  • Allow tape recorders
  • Pair student with a “study buddy”

Background Noise and Reverberation in the Classroom

Witha small amount of effort, children of average hearing are able to tuneout audible distractions such as road noise, air conditioning, andchatter. But kids with hearing disabilities have difficulty filteringout background noise, and hearing aids or cochlear implants do notperform this task either. All noises are amplified by the devices andhanded to the child in a mixed up bundle.

Additionally,varying degrees of hearing loss can present challenges for children aswell. Some children experience hearing loss at higher frequencies andsome have difficulties in the lower range.

Knowing how a childis hearing is very important in determining how to structure the mostsupportive classroom environment. Minimizing background noise andreverberation should be a priority. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep windows closed
  • Turn down air conditioners
  • Insist that students do not talk during oral presentations
  • Look into floor rugs and/or acoustic wall panels
  • Use an FM device to enhance signal-to-noise ratio (S/N enhancing device)
  • Install tennis balls on the bottom of classroom chairs

Whenchildren with hearing loss try to learn in a noisy, unsupportiveclassroom environment, they can quickly fall behind in their educationalefforts. Listening to a lesson in this type of setting would be liketrying to do a puzzle with half the pieces missing. But when theappropriate accommodations are provided, children with hearingimpairment can enjoy school and thrive, as do their peers with normalhearing abilities.

The copyright of the article Learning Difficulties for the Hearing Impaired in Deaf Students is owned by Karen Plumley. Permission to republish Learning Difficulties for the Hearing Impaired in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

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Common Classroom Modifications for Mainstreamed AI Students

Common Classroom Modifications for Mainstreamed AI Students

Listed here are some modifications we use most frequentlywith AI students who are mainstreamed. Of course, each student is anindividual who will have different strengths and weaknesses, so this isonly a guide and in no way is intended to be for any specificstudent(s). Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about aspecific student or need clarification about a specific situtaion ormodification.
  • PREFERENTIAL SEATING (this used to mean the front of the classroom, but as any good teacher can tell you, the teacher is rarely standing at the front anymore. With all the variations in classrooms and in teaching styles, this will mean different things to different situations. Really, we just need to make sure the student has the best, clearest, most unobstructed view of the speaker and the learning materials at all times)
  • ORAL TESTS (This is pretty self-explanatory most likely, but simply put, the student needs to watch the test giver for facial expression and speech reading. This aides in langauge communication for the AI student)
  • NOTE-TAKING ASSISTANCE (This typically takes one of two forms, but can be anything that allows the student to watch lectures and lessons without needing to write down information. The most common scenario is when the teacher simply prints a copy of their notes and provides them for the student (or the whole class, if the teacher chooses to). This can either be the notes in their entirety or with words missing throughout fo rthe student to fill in. The idea is to minimize the need for the student to look away from the speaker. The other scenario is when a classmate shares copies of their notes with the student. This can be done with NCR paper provided by the Special Ed department in which the notetaker simply writes their notes as always, but with this special paper there are two exact copies and one is handed over to the AI student. Obviously, peer note-takers would have to be carefully selected to ensure clear handwriting as well as thorough notes)
  • CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING (Oftentimes AI students don't even realize they have missed something. When a teacher, or any speaker, simply asks if the student understands a nod of yes may not be accurate. There is a definite need to ask clear and precise questions to determine if information has been communciated effectively)
  • PERSONAL AMPLIFICATION (most of our AI students in Sharyland use hearing aids. These are most often cared for and serviced by the families, but it is imperative that we help encourage our students to wear their hearing aids as much as possible during school hours. When they don't wear them, they hear less)
  • FM SYSTEM (Some students may actually have an FM system, which is provided by the district. This includes a microphone worn by the teacher and a receiver attached to the hearing aid of the student. This allows the signal (teacher's voice) to be amplified and carried directly to the receiver (AI student) and minimizing distracting auditory interference. If your student uses one of these, I can help you understand how to use this. They are not difficult, although anything unfamiliar can be intimidating)

Say It In Sign

Say It In Sign

The Regional School for the Deaf in McAllen offers FREE (yes,you read that right, there is NO charge!) sign language classes. Thisis perfect for parents, teachers or anyone interested in learning basicsign skills. Classes are held weekly at Brown Middle School on SouthWare in McAllen. The class is led by a qualified and knowledgeableinstructor and meets each Monday evening from 6:30 PM - 8 PM. Classesare scheduled to begin in September and will follow the McAllen schoolcalendar (when there is no school in McAllen that Monday, there is nosign class). For more information, contact RSD at 956-971-4500.