Preparing to welcome a student with hearing loss to your classroom

It’s the start of a new school year, and while children are enjoying their last days of summer, teachers are busy getting their classrooms ready and preparing to welcome a new group of students. For the teacher who has a student with hearing loss in their class, there are several things that can be done in advance to set the student up for success.

  1. Understand the student’s hearing loss. Audiologic reports contain crucial information about the student’s hearing loss but can also be overwhelming. A teacher who is new to working with a student with hearing loss should reach out to the student’s parents and/or audiologist to understand unfamiliar terms and interpret the student’s audiogram. Important take-aways from the audiology report include:
  • The student’s degree and type of hearing loss
  • The hearing device(s) the student utilizes
  • How to interpret the student’s audiogram
  • The age at the time of diagnosis
  • The age fit with a hearing device(s)
  • The type of services the student has received (or is currently receiving)
  • How to conduct a Ling Sound Check
  1. Recognize the academic implications of hearing loss. Hearing loss can impact a student’s academic performance in many areas, including vocabulary, grammar, reading, writing and math. A student with hearing loss may have an IEP or evaluation reports that will give a teacher valuable information about the following:
  • The student’s present levels in all academic areas
  • The student’s academic strengths and weaknesses
  • The student’s speech, language and listening skills
  • Any additional diagnoses
  • Other team members supporting the student (speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, teacher of the deaf, etc.)
  1. Learn the social implications of hearing loss. A student who is deaf or hard of hearing may also have difficulty with pragmatic, or social, language. Conversations move quickly, slang is ever-changing and self-advocacy is a skill that requires practice. As the school year evolves, a teacher can begin to:
  • Observe the student during social times of the day (e.g., recess, lunch).
  • Conference with the student about how they feel about social times of the day.
  • Assess the student’s ability to use and respond to pragmatic language.
  1. Determine ways to eliminate potential classroom challenges. There are a variety of supports and/or accommodations that can be put into place to help a student with hearing loss. A teacher may want to consider:
  • Learning classroom acoustics and ways to improve audibility in the classroom
  • Making instruction visual by facing students when talking and by writing down important information
  • Observing the student’s individual learning style and determining what possible accommodations and/or modifications would support their success

While truly getting to know a student takes time, learning relevant background information in advance is the first step to setting both the teacher and student up for a successful school year.

Do you have a student with hearing loss in your class or on your caseload?  Learn more about how to best support them by attending our fall workshops or contact us to learn more about our customizable in-services.

J KleinJessica Klein is a speech-language pathologist and the associate director of the Emerson Center for Professional Development at Central Institute for the Deaf- CID. In addition to working at CID, she has also worked in a public school setting, serving elementary-age students. Ms. Klein has co-authored several workshops, presented at a variety of professional conferences and written an online course about developing literacy skills in students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

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