10 Strategies to Support Hearing-Impaired Students in Classrooms

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Doctor putting earhorn in child's ear. Getty Images, Carmen Martínez Banús

Children suffer from hearing loss for a variety of reasons. Genetic factors, illnesses, accidents, problems in a pregnancy (rubella, for instance), complications during birth and several early childhood illnesses, such as mumps or measles, have been found to contribute to hearing loss.

Signs of hearing problems include: turning the ear toward the noise, favoring one ear over another, lack of follow through with directions or instructions, seeming distracted and or confused.

Other signs of hearing loss in children include turning the television up too loud, delayed speech or unclear speech, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC also points out that signs and symptoms of hearing loss differ in each person. A hearing screening or test can assess hearing loss.

“Hearing loss can affect a child’s ability to develop speech, language, and social skills. The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential,” the CDC states. “If you are a parent and you suspect your child has hearing loss, trust your instincts and speak with your child’s doctor.”

Hearing-impaired children have a higher risk of developing language-processing difficulties. If left unchecked, these children can have trouble keeping up in class. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Teachers can employ a number of methods to prevent hearing-impaired children from being left behind in school.

Here are 10 strategies teachers can use to help hearing-impaired children. They’ve been adapted from the  United Federation of Teachers website.

  1. Make sure hearing-impaired students wear amplification devices, such as a frequency modulated (FM) unit that will connect to a microphone for you to wear. “The FM device allows your voice to be heard directly by the student,” according to the UFT website.
  1. Use the child’s residual hearing, as the total hearing loss is rare.
  2. Allow hearing-impaired students to sit where they think best, as sitting close to the teacher will help the child to better understand the context of your words by observing your facial expressions.
  3. Don’t shout. If the child is already wearing an FM device, your voice will be amplified, as it is.
  4. Give interpreters copies of lessons in advice. This will help the interpreter prep the student for the vocabulary used in the lesson.
  5. Focus on the child, not the interpreter. Teachers do not need to give interpreters directions to give to the child. The interpreter will relay your words without being asked.
  6. Only speak while facing forward. Do not speak with your back to hearing impaired children. They need to see your face for context and visual cues.
  7. Enhance lessons with visuals, as hearing impaired children tend to be visual learners.
  8. Repeat words, directions, and activities.
  9. Make every lesson language-oriented. Have a print-rich classroom with labels on the objects inside.

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Watson, Sue. "10 Strategies to Support Hearing-Impaired Students in Classrooms." ThoughtCo, May. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/strategies-to-support-hearing-impaired-3110331. Watson, Sue. (2017, May 19). 10 Strategies to Support Hearing-Impaired Students in Classrooms. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/strategies-to-support-hearing-impaired-3110331 Watson, Sue. "10 Strategies to Support Hearing-Impaired Students in Classrooms." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/strategies-to-support-hearing-impaired-3110331 (accessed November 20, 2017).