Accommodating a Student with a Hearing Impairment
By Dr. Kenneth Shore
In figuring out how to help a student with a hearing impairment, you will want to find out how severe her impairment is. The more severe the impairment, the more accommodations you will need to make in the classroom. Try to implement the following strategies in a way that calls minimal attention to her hearing impairment.
- Seat the student near you. Your decision to place her in the front of the room is a good start. In addition, seat her so that her better ear is closer to you and avoid placing her near noise sources in the classroom such as the doorway or the heater. If the class is small and there are frequent class discussions, you may want to arrange the class in a semi-circular arrangement so that she can see all of her classmates. Or you might allow her to move around the classroom so that she can hear the questions and comments of other students.
- Pay attention to your communication style. You can enhance the student’s ability to hear what you and others are saying by doing the following:
- If necessary, get the student’s attention with a touch on her shoulder or a gesture. • Make sure you are facing the class and your mouth is not obstructed when speaking.
- Speak clearly but naturally. Speaking unnaturally may suggest to other students that the hearing-impaired child is slow.
- Repeat questions asked by other students, especially if they are sitting behind the hearing-impaired student.
- If you have difficulty understanding the student, ask her to repeat herself or write it down rather than making her think you understood.
- Provide visual aids to enhance understanding. Consider giving the student a schedule of her day, with room numbers and teachers’ names. In addition, you might write on the board key information such as a brief outline of the lesson, new vocabulary, assignments, test and project dates, and important school announcements. You can also help her stay on track by giving her an outline of the class lesson with new vocabulary or use an overhead projector to emphasize key points. These activities may be useful with all of your students.
- Reduce background noise. Ideally, a classroom with a hearing-impaired student should be located away from noisy areas of the school such as the cafeteria or the playground. Classroom noise can also be reduced by installing sound-absorbing ceiling tile, draperies and wall-to-wall carpeting. Special classroom lighting is also available to enhance the student’s vision, which is so important to children with hearing impairments.
- Assign the child a classroom buddy. Find a responsible student who will not feel overwhelmed by this task. Let this buddy know that her primary job is to help keep the student on pace with other students by alerting her to directions, page numbers, and classroom and schedule changes.