If your child has a hearing loss or hearing disorder, going back to school can be challenging. Whether it’s a new grade or a new school, their environment is changing, and with change, with an already difficult hearing loss lifestyle, comes stress. So it is important to find as much stability as you can. Talk with your school, figure out what devices your school system offers, and talk with your teacher, letting them know your worries and your ideas.
According to a pamphlet (which we’ll be attaching at the bottom of this post) called “Mainstreaming the Student who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing: a Guide for Professionals, Teachers, and Parents”, a child with hearing loss starts with a decisive disadvantage:
“Children with normal hearing often seem to passively absorb information from the environment and constantly pick up tidbits of information. This is referred to as incidental learning. A child with hearing loss cannot casually overhear what people say and since a great amount of information that a child learns is not directed at him/her, it stands to reason that s/he misses out on essential daily information. As much as 90 percent of what a normally hearing individual learns is from overhearing conversations…”
This sounds kind of scary, and it is. But with proper assistive listening devices, and easy to implement classroom techniques, your child with hearing loss doesn’t have to suffer, or start from a lower rung.
- The pamphlet quoted from earlier lists some classroom tips for the teacher to follow.
- Seat student with back towards light source
- Seat child with better ear towards teacher
- During group activities, encourage the student to watch faces of other children when they speak
- Semi-circle seating
- Try not to seat child near open windows, air conditioners, anything that can make noise
- Seat in front of classroom, with good visual access to teacher
- Seat child near a buddy to assist in keeping the student on track
- Identify speakers and reduce visual distractions
- Use captioned video tapes
- Check for understanding
Assistive Listening Technology
In addition to hearing aids, assistive listening devices are one of the most important tools you can use against hearing loss in the classroom. Assistive listening devices “encompass a range of products destined to solve the problems of noise, distance from the speaker and room reverberations.”
One such device is a FM or infrared system. A FM system is used to deal with distance. It’s a remote microphone that is placed close to a sound source and operates like a tiny private radio station. The teacher will usually clips a microphone to their clothing.
Other systems include: automatic speech recognition and educational transcription systems. It’s important for you to approach your school to see what they offer.
What SHOULD My School System Offer
Laws will differ state by state. Except for federal laws, of which there are a few.
The IDEA act is one such federal law. The IDEA act determines the special educational services children will receive from a school system, and requires them to provide students with a disability a free (public expense, without charge to student’s family) and appropriate education.
There is also the Americans with Disabilities Act:
“The department of Justice oversees the position of Title II (public services) or the ADA implementing regulations that specifically addresses the obligation of a school board for other public entity to remove communication barriers for deaf individuals. This includes furnishing, at no cost, auxiliary aids and services where necessary to afford individuals with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in a service or program…”
On the state level: Grace’s Law. Grace’s Law is a New Jersey statue, which requires certain health benefits plans to provide limited coverage toward purchase of hearing aids.
More info on New Jersey laws here: http://www.nj.gov/education/specialed/deaf/
And Philadelphia laws here: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/e/ee/opportunities/speech-vision-hearing-opportunities/speech-vision-hearing-opportunities/teacher-of-special-education—hearing-impaired
This is only a quick overview, it is important to figure out just how your specific school works within the bounds of state and federal laws.
As you can see, this is not an easy issue. There are many tools that can be used, and many issues you must come to terms with. Getting your child with hearing loss help in the classroom ranges from simple steps a teacher can take, to laws on the state and federal level. If you have any questions, REM Audiology would be happy to answer them. Just give our office a call at 888-710-5734, send us an email at [email protected], or leave a comment on this blog.
Here’s to a productive and healthy school year!