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When you become a teacher, you soon realize that the real beauty of the job is that you are always learning. Sometimes we learn as much from our students as we teach them. In the case of students who are hard of hearing we learn how to accommodate their needs to ensure they succeed. It may take a few extra steps, but you can rest assured that each student with hearing loss has access to the same education that those with normal hearing have. 


Whether you are an educator or a parent supporting a student with hearing loss, we hope these tips help!


Students with Hearing Loss

All too often a hearing loss can inhibit learning when it is undiagnosed or untreated. Students can miss important lectures and get lost in class discussions, significantly impacting their grades, keeping them from advancing. It is up to us as educators to make sure that the needs of hearing-impaired students don’t go ignored and to give them the same chances as everybody else. Here are a few tips to ensure that they can thrive and excel in your class and beyond.


Understanding Hearing Loss

Everyone’s hearing loss is a little different. For instance, some people’s impairment is more severe than another’s. In other cases, a person may struggle to hear high pitches which others struggle with consonants or lower pitches. Find out from your student what sounds they struggle with that could be holding them back. Depending on the hearing loss, an instructor can try addressing these issues with techniques such as enunciating, speaking evenly, making sure their face is in clear view, and lowering vocal tones.

Accounting for listening fatigue

Hearing loss, even when treated can be incredibly exhausting. Hearing aids are the most common method of treatment for hearing loss, but even then, hearing takes focus. If you’ve ever tried to learn a foreign language while traveling abroad, then you know how much extra energy it takes to translate speech and read signs all day long. Learning with hearing loss is similar, however, there is a significant difference:  when you return to a place where your mother tongue is spoken you get a break, while students with hearing loss never do.

Position your students for success

To ensure success in your classroom, make sure that there is no extraneous sounds in the classroom. Even a noisy air conditioner or traffic outside the window can become a challenge for students who are hard of hearing. Of course, you also need to choose comfort for all students so it’s often a toss-up between a noisy AC unit or the distracting sounds outside an open window. 

When you can’t minimize the noise, make sure that your students with hearing issues are as far away from the noise as possible. The best place is usually in the front row, so they have a clear view of your face to read your facial expressions, body language and lip read. A student with a hearing impairment upfront also allows you to keep tabs on them and read from their facial expression and body language if they are following. If they seem lost, it is okay to take a breath and make sure everyone can get on the same page, as a class. Remember not to single any students in front of everyone but take the time to make sure they don’t get left behind.

Stress the use of assistive hearing technologies

Assistive technologies can improve success in the classroom for students with hearing loss by increasing access to sound and eliminating distracting background noise. Some of these technologies such as the Phonak Roger Touchscreen Mic can send your voice via a microphone directly to a student’s hearing aids, using Bluetooth wireless connectivity. As an instructor, you can maximize the potential of assistive technologies. Advocate for them to other students, parents, faculty, and the administrative staff.

Advocate for success!

It is important that if you suspect a student has a hearing issue, encourage them to communicate what would help them succeed. Assistive listening devices or hearing loss treatment could help their learning process. Encourage them to schedule and attend a hearing exam so they can find the best treatment for their hearing needs.