When it comes to teaching students with a hearing disability, one thing needs to be kept in mind. Accommodation is the teacher’s best tool to reach these particular students. A teacher doesn’t have to change what he is teaching; he simply has to change his approach.
Students with a hearing disability are usually hearing impaired or deaf. The majority may be hard of hearing and need the help of a hearing aid. Depending on the severity of the disability, various technologies, techniques and assistance can be used in the regular education classroom.
Los Angeles County of Education (LACOE) has a program that works with hearing impaired students. LACOE’S Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program provides material assistance and accommodation tips for regular education teachers in the county’s public schools. According to its service, there are two devices, two forms of assistance, and ten accommodations a teacher can use to help a student with a hearing disability to gain access to the lesson being taught in the classroom.
Technology is a must for hearing impaired students. Hearing aids are usually the most common, and they help the student to hear and understand the teacher’s lecture. However, there is another device that has been used in the classroom. It is an FM speaker system in which the teacher wears a microphone around his/her neck, and the FM speakers are worn by the student. This gives the student a direct link to the teacher’s lecture.
Assistance is another popular form of accommodation that LACOE suggests. A para-educator can work with the student by taking notes. Also, for students who are deaf, a sign-language interpreter can help improve the communication between the student and teacher.
Still, the teacher has a role to play when teaching a student with a hearing impairment. The following forms of accommodation can be used:
1. Seating: Have students seated advantageously in the classroom. Whether it’s next to the board or in the front of the class, it has to be in a place where the student can access the teacher and be able to have a clear view of him in order to lip-read or hear the lectures. 2. Get their attention: a teacher must get the attention of the student before addressing him or her before a task or lesson is to be taught. If getting the student’s attention fails, the teacher must use one of his/her peers to get the needed attention. 3. Speak naturally: Contrary to popular belief, exaggeration and overemphasis will hinder the student’s learning and speech reading (lip-reading) abilities. Most students with hearing disabilities will acquire the ability to read lips. 4. Encourage face reading: encourage the student to watch the faces of the teacher or students. Again, opportunity for the student to improve lip-reading ability. Semi-circle seating in the classroom can help this accommodation. 5. Clear lighting: a clear light on the teacher will help the student lip-read his/her instructions. 6. Restatement: When the student doesn’t understand, restate the information. It is more effective than repetition. Also, it helps to assign a trustworthy student as a helper or “buddy” to help assist the student in this matter. 7. Use the Board: Basically, use visual cues. Put vocabulary on the board; write lectures there, too; and list oral questions. This helps the student comprehend the lesson and strengthen their visual learning skills. 8. Patience: Allow students a few seconds to process information they gather through lip-reading or visual cues. Also, for the hard of hearing, allow students time to process auditory cues. This may involve some restatement, as well. 9. Give no special favors: Don’t give favors such as reduced work or alternative grade scales. Most of these students do not have auditory processing disorders. They can tackle the same information as their peers. However, they simply need some accommodations, not modifications. Also, the student may not adhere to these favors and may actually shun it for fear of being ostracized by their peers. 10. Seek the experts: When in doubt, consult and collaborate with professionals such as the speech/language teachers, school nurse, audiologist, administrator, counselor or RSP teacher. Working together will help the student in the long and short run. These professionals can provide expertise and suggestions for improving the student’s access to the instruction.
Los Angeles County of Education; www.lacoe.edu.