Now that school is back in session, lets talk about students with hearing loss! Whether classes have resumed in person or via Zoom, we have some tips to help students with hearing loss hear and learn better.
To note, these are just general tips. Each student’s hearing loss is unique and individualized accommodations should be created for each student.
Reduce Background Noise
One of the biggest challenges for students with hearing loss, is that classrooms tend to be noisy. Between the teacher and 20+ other students, background noise is a common problem. To reduce background noise, close the door to the classroom to eliminate hallway noise. The teacher should also maintain quiet during lectures, and only allow one student to speak during discussions at a time.
The teacher should only lecture when standing at the front of the room, facing the class. Speaking while facing the blackboard can cause problems for students with hearing loss. The teacher should also avoid standing in front of a window or other light source, to reduce glare on their face. This ensures the student with hearing loss has an adequate view of the teacher’s lip movements and facial expressions.
If the student has one ear that hears “better” than the other, they should be positioned in a desk that allows that ear to face the teacher. The student should be seated in the first or second row of desks, away from air conditioners or other items that may create ambient noise.
The teacher should make a point to summarize comments and questions made by other students during discussions.
For younger students, a school staff member can be assigned to ensure that their hearing aids or cochlear implant is functioning and turned on each day.
FM transmitters can be worn by the teacher to stream their words directly into the student’s hearing aids or cochlear implant. The transmitter can also be passed around during classroom discussions so the student can hear their classmates too. FM transmitters also work during school announcements and assemblies.
The teacher can wear a face mask with a clear panel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some students rely on lip-reading to supplement their understanding.
Other hearing accessories are available to assist hearing aid users in different settings. For example, Phonak has a variety of Roger products that can be used in the classroom. Students can be very successful with these accessories, but they can be cost-prohibitive. If you would like more information about hearing aid accessories, contact your audiologist. These devices often have to be professionally set-up with the student’s hearing aids before they can be used.
Students should choose a quiet room in the house to participate in their online classes. They should turn off fans, air conditioners, dishwashers, and any other appliances that can create background noise.
All participants, other than the current speaker, should have their microphones muted during lectures.
Work with the school to provide closed captioning for all online classes. A live captioner or a web-based speech recognition tool are the most common ways to provide closed captioning.
“Pin” The Speaker
“Pinning” the speaking means having whoever is speaking appear in the center of the screen. This allows the hard of hearing student the opportunity to lip read and read facial expressions. If possible, show both the speaker and any applicable slides as a split-screen during lectures.
The teacher should make sure to sit in a room with good lighting. They should sit reasonably close to the camera so that their lips, facial expressions, and hand gestures can be seen.
Use a Streaming Device
If the student’s hearing aids or cochlear implant is compatible, we recommend using a streaming device to stream audio directly into the ears. Talk to your audiologist to assist you in getting the correct device to set this up.
Use the Chat Function
Providing pertinent details in the Chat Box (such as dates, times, phone numbers, links, and email addresses) will ensure the student with hearing loss has access to that information.