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How to Accommodate Hearing Disabled Students
School life for the hearing impaired is always a challenge. With many lessons taught by teachers using lectures or other oral lessons, these students can be left with a huge disadvantage.
Teachers are also in a bind. What can they do to assure these students get a fair and appropriate education? This is where teachers must use the most important tactic in special education: accommodations.
Accommodation is the practice of assisting students with special needs to access the same curriculum as their non-disabled peers. This practice can be as simple as placement in the front of the classroom, or as complex as technological or personal assistance. Unlike its counterpart, modification, it doesn't require the teacher to personally change the curriculum.
While some accommodations will revolve around technology, such as the use of FM stereo and receiver or hearing aids, most simply involve teaching techniques that nearly any educator can do. Also, forms of accommodation may involve the use of a one-on-one instructional assistants or sign-language interpreters.
Los Angeles County of Education (LACOE) has a program called Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program. It caters to students with this form of impairment. This particular program offers assistance to students enrolled in their schools as well as to those in the various public school districts they are contracted to work with.
According to their pamphlet, LACOE identified 10 forms of non-technological accommodations teachers can do in the classroom. They've also identified at least two devices that can assist teachers in communicating with students with hearing impairments or with auditory processing disorders*.
The following sections pertain to the 10 accommodations. Also, a brief description of some technologies that can be used in the classroom.
* Difference Between Hearing Impaired and Auditory Processing Disorder
To note: hearing impaired is different from auditory processing. A student with a hearing impairment is considered to be a physical disability. Auditory Processing Disorder refers to a specific learning disorder in which information received audibly is processing at a slower rate.
Of all the accommodations, seating is possibly the easiest to understand. Simply put, have students placed in the front of the classroom or near the teacher or paraprofessional (especially if that person happens to be an sign-language interpreter).
Seating is not so much placing student near the front of the classroom. It's about ensuring they have access to the teacher, the board, and other forms of accommodation to help them grasp the curriculum.
Get their attention
Again, this is pretty much a self-explanatory accommodation. As the LACOE pamphlet states: "A teacher must have the attention of the students." Since these student don't have adequate use of one of their basic senses, they will need more attention from the teacher. The teacher must make sure of that by using visual cues to get their attention. It also helps if the teacher paces the room and make routine stop by these students desks in make sure they are on task before moving on with a lesson.
Speak Like You're Speaking to Non-Impaired Student
Contrary to popular belief, exaggeration and overemphasis will hinder these students' learning and speech reading (lip-reading) abilities. Most students with hearing disabilities will acquire the ability to read lips, which means the teacher needs to be precise and articulate enough for the them to understand.
Encourage Face Reading
Face reading is just that: reading one's non-verbal communication through facial expression. Often, students with hearing impairments may have built up this skills by the time they enter a classroom.
For teachers, it is imperative to recognize that their expressions can communicate a lot. If possible use this to express meaning behind words or phrases that pertains to the lesson.
Focus on the Physical Lighting in a Classroom
Illumination -- especially on the teacher -- will help the students lip-read his/her instructions. Thus, ensure that the classroom is bright enough for the students. If not, get a hold of the custodian, maintenance or an administrator to see if this can be improved.
Individual Education Plans (IEP) will refer to them in accommodation/modification page as "repeating or rephrasing" a lesson. This is meant to ensure that the students understand the lesson and have received any or all information pertaining to school work or homework they may have.
The teacher is the only one who has to do this. It can be done by an instructional assistant or one of the students' peers.
Basically, the Ink board or Smart board can be used as an effective tools for visual cues. These can be used to support the teacher's lecture and/or to clarify assignments. A teacher may draw or write on the ink board.
Smart board, on the other hand can offer more. Powerpoint lessons can be projected on these interactive board (usually connected to your computer). Also it can be used to show videos and other visual lessons.
Allow students a few seconds to process information gathered through lip-reading or visual cues
Patience may sound odd, but it's a practical accommodation tool. Simply put (as LACOE states) it " allows students a few seconds to process information gathered through lip-reading or visual cues." This is an accommodation often associated with those with auditory processing disorders; however, it can be applied to those with hearing impairments
Also, allow students time to process auditory cues. This may involve some restatement, as well.
Tread Lightly on Special Favors
Don't give favors such as reduced work or alternative grade scales to students with hearing impairments. Most of these students do not have auditory processing disorders -- which is usually group with specific learning disorders. In fact, many (in this writer's experience) turn out be the most knowledgeable students in the classroom. They can tackle the same information as their peers. However, they simply need some accommodations, not modifications.
Also, the students may not adhere to these favors and may actually shun it for fear of being ostracized by the non-disabled peers.
Collaborate with Experts
According to LACOE, general education teachers with these students in their classroom need to consult and collaborate with professionals such as the speech/language teachers, school nurse, audiologist, administrator, counselor or RSP teacher (usually the case-carrier for the student, too). Working together will help the students in the long and short run. These professionals can provide expertise and suggestions for improving the student's access to the instruction.
A Note On Technology
The 10 steps mentioned pertains to ways a teacher can accommodate students in the classroom without the use of technology. In actuality, there is technology that can be used for accommodation; however, cash-strapped public school districts may --or may not -- have the funds to grant them.
The type of technology available for these students are:
1. laptops or tablets
2. FM receiver (as shown in the lead picture).
3. Remote Captioning
4. Hearing aids (usually supplied by parents or audiologists outside the school).
Also, thanks the American with Disability Act (ADA), smart phones, school phones and other form of verbal communication devices have systems such as TTY (teletype phone) to assist those with hearing impairments.
Other Special Education Articles
- Understanding Modifications and Accommodations for the Learning Disabled
No matter how many changes Special Education programs and laws go through, there are at least two items that will never change: the need for accommodations and modifications of lesson plans.
- Auditory Processing Disorder: More Common in Special Education Than you Think
What's the most common learning disability seen in special education classes? ADD/ADHD? Autism? How about Auditory Processing Disorder? The latter is extremely prevalent, possibly more than the others
Communication Devices for the Hearing Impaired
© 2016 Dean Traylor