Serving Students with Hearing Impairments

Deaf students in the classroom in Baghdad, Iraq (April 2004). Photo by Peter Rimar courtesy Chitpra via Wikimedia

Deaf students in Baghdad, Iraq (April 2004). Photo by Peter Rimar courtesy Chitpra via Wikimedia.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like not to hear or to only be able to hear through a glass? I have. I’ve probably thought about what it would be like to have many disabilities that we know of. Each time, I always end up thanking God for the abilities that I do have that I sometimes do not think about because it is so normal to me, like simply being able to hear the honking horn of a car coming from the opposite direction of  the street  trying to get my attention to alert me that the traffic light for my lane has not changed yet and that I have begun driving across the highway without having the right of way. Well, I had the opportunity to work with a student who had a hearing impairment which was the first time that I ever worked that closely with anyone who had a hearing impairment, to my knowledge.

During my experience, I learned more about hearing impairments and things related to them than I had known before I began working with that student. However, I admit that there is so much more that I can stand to learn. All in all, I am glad that I got the opportunity to work with that student and learn what I have learned. My learning still continues.

You definitely want to know about those things that have proven to be successful when helping individuals with hearing impairments. Here are some of the general suggestions. Show them someone who could be a role model who had a hearing impairment like them and share that the person was able to overcome his or her disability and be successful by asking for help and trying. Check for understanding very often by asking the student for feedback. For lip readers, make sure they are seated in close proximity to the speaker and that the speaker speaks normally and naturally. If there is an interpreter, the speaker should speak towards the student not the interpreter. The speaker or teacher should make outlines available to the interpreter and student before lessons. The teacher should only put on the board what is being taught in the present, no cluttering. (

Then there are things that do not work in the best interest of the student with a hearing impairment and that should be avoided. Here are some. Do not seat students in areas of high traffic. Try not to stand in front of brightly lit areas that can obstruct visual cues. Do not panic if the student does not understand you at first. This will get better with time. Do not face the board when talking. Do not take background noise for granted. What we do not pay attention to can be a problem for students with hearing impairments. (

With so much technology innovation, there is a lot of assistive technology that is available to help individuals who have hearing impairments. Hearing aids are commonly used. It is important for the audiologist and doctor to work together to help choose the right aids for the child. Then, there are cochlear implants which are usually considered in the case of profound hearing loss. This is a risky decision since it involves surgery. Then, there are those devices that help to reduce the sound of background noise. One is the FM system which is worn by the student and teacher, working to amplify the teacher’s voice. Another is a loop which helps to reduce the amount of background noise as well. Other technology includes captioning equipment for closed captioning. (

Finally, for those who know or work with the parents of children with hearing impairments, there are some important things that can help these parents with the care of their children. The parent should begin to learn what their child’s body language means. Begin to seek out the assistive technology that is available for his or her child. There is a lot out there, even some for free or loan or that they can get assistance with acquiring. Get connected with a speech therapist or pathologist. Do discipline. Make sure your child knows that no means no and make sure that you mean it and follow through with what you say. Get involved with your child’s school and get the school involved with your child. (

Questions Worth Asking

  • What solutions have been successful with persons with hearing impairments?
  • What solutions have failed with persons with hearing impairments?
  • What is some assistive technology that you would recommend using with persons with hearing impairments?
  • What are some mistakes persons with normal hearing make when interacting with persons with hearing impairment?
  • What are some improvements that can be considered when interacting with persons with hearing impairments?
  • Is there anything that you would like to share about your experience with persons with hearing impairments or experiences of persons with hearing impairment which they have shared with you?



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