General Tips for Teachers

  • Use visual aids whenever possible. This will provide additional access to information for all types of learners and benefit the deaf or hard of hearing child as well as the entire class.
  • Consider using an overhead (or SmartBoard technology) rather than a whiteboard during lessons. This will allow you to face the class rather than have your back to them. Most teachers come to prefer this way of teaching regardless if they have a child with hearing loss in the classroom or not.
  • Create a buddy system to provide the student with any information that they may miss such as loudspeaker or classroom announcements.
  • Present new vocabulary to the student prior to the lesson. This will enable the child to recognize the word and maximize comprehension during the lesson.
  • Make connections with the other professionals with whom the student works and consult with them as necessary. Working together as a team will greatly benefit the student.
  • Provide note takers as needed.
  • Be aware that modifications may be needed in certain testing situations.
  •  Be aware that the deaf or hard of hearing student is expending extra energy to attend and may fatigue easily. Allow for an occasional break.
  • Educate the class about hearing loss. Invite a professional in if possible to answer questions the students may have. Allow the children to see and learn about the assistive technology that will be used in the classroom.
  • Be positive. If your attitude is positive, it will carry over to the class.

 

Additional Helpful Hints in the Classroom

  • Encourage and promote amplification of hearing (hearing aids, auditory trainers, FM systems)
  • Focus on familiarity of topic
  • Eliminate or reduce the sources of noise
  • Reduce reverberation
  • Reduce the distance from the speaker
  • Speak directly to the student, never behind or over the shoulder
  • Address the student directly
  • Many words and sounds look the same on the lips; do not repeat a single word over and over again if the student does not understand; use another word or phrase to express the same thought get the persons attention before you speak
  • Try to speak to the student from a position which allows for adequate light to fall upon your face; shadows make lip movements difficult to see; don’t exaggerate lip patterns
  • Let the student find the best place in the room for him/her to sit
  • Repeat what other students say, especially questions that they ask
  • Check the child’s aids to make sure they are working
  • Be aware of acoustic conditions, especially noise interference; allow the child time to respond
  • The deaf/hard of hearing child cannot be expected to listen for long periods of time
  • Develop good contacts with the families (such as via a home/school notebook) so that there is a carry-over of language experience hands-on, experiential learning is most effective
  • Small-group discussion work enables participation
  • Assign a hearing buddy for the student when appropriate
  • Write assignments on the board; familiarize yourself with the child’s assistive listening device
  • Expect behavior and achievement levels which are similar to that of your other students
  • Remember that two people with almost identical hearing losses may function very differently; each is an individual; seek help from other professionals or agencies whenever you have a question or problem

 

To Aid Use of Residual Hearing

  • Learn as much as possible about each child’s hearing loss. Each deaf or hard of hearing child does not have the same type or severity of hearing loss.
  • Be aware that hearing aids do not “correct” hearing in the same way that eyeglasses correct vision.
  • Remember that distance from the speaker is a critical factor in the child’s ability to understand speech.
  • Be aware of background noise and work at reducing it. Background noise interferes with the main message. Place sound absorbing materials in the classroom to reduce reverberation (i.e., area rugs, drapes, cork board on walls).
  • Speak in a normal tone of voice.
  • Remember that the deaf or hard of hearing child may have fluctuating hearing loss as a result of colds or ear infections changing what he can hear from day to day.
  • Have a daily plan in place to be sure hearing aids and /or FM systems are in top working condition. Familiarize yourself with the equipment and encourage their consistent use.

 

To Aid Speechreading

  • Speak facing the student at all times.
  • Speak normally. Exaggerated lip movements are difficult to understand.
  • Try to stand still while talking. A moving target is difficult to speechread.
  • Seat the student close to the front of the instructional area where he can see both the teacher’s and students’ faces. The further the child is from the person speaking, the more difficult it is to speechread.
  • Cue the student as to who is speaking during a group conversation. This could be as simple as a gesture towards the speaker or simply saying their name as they are about to speak.
  • When necessary, rephrase a question to clarify meaning.
  • Write new vocabulary words on the board or on the overhead projector.
  • Be sure that you have adequate lighting on your face when speaking. Do not stand in front of a window as the backlight will shadow your face.
  • Remember not to obstruct the student’s view of your face. A paper or book held in the teacher’s hand could easily block a child’s access to visual cues.
  • Face the students when writing on the blackboard-Write sideways- it works! This will allow the deaf or hard of hearing child to read your lips as you write.

 

The Interpreter/Transliterator in the Classroom

  • The role of an educational interpreter varies depending on the child’s age and level. Be sure that all involved have a clear understanding of the interpreter’s/transliterator’s role in the classroom. The ideal situation would include a clear job description of the interpreter’s/transliterator’s role.
  • Introduce the interpreter/transliterator to the class and explain his/her role.
  • Direct your comments and questions to the student rather than to the interpreter/transliterator.
  • Expect the student to respond to you rather than to the interpreter/transliterator.
  • Use a moderate rate of speaking.
  • Be aware that the teacher will accept the role of disciplinarian.
  • Understand that young children will go through a process in learning how to correctly utilize an interpreter/transliterator.
  • Allow the child the same right as hearing children to have short breaks from attending. While a hearing child can do this unnoticed, it is obvious when a deaf or hard of hearing child stops looking at the interpreter/transliterator. Again, allow short but reasonable breaks.

 

General Classroom Modifications

  • Add carpeting, area rugs or drapes to the classroom.
  • If you don’t have carpeting, attach tennis balls to the bottom of chair legs to stop chairs from scraping on the floor (cut a 1″ X on the balls and pop it onto each chair leg).
  • Focus on reducing background noise as much as possible (i.e., loudly ticking clocks, air conditioning units, open door to hallway, noise from open windows, etc.).
  • Add other noise absorbing materials such a cork board to the walls.
  • Consider background noise when choosing the child’s seating placement.
  • Use fully lighted classrooms.
  • Make sure videos are captioned.
  • Arrange student’s schedule so that academic subjects are taught in the morning.
  • Provide written school announcements.
  • Provide in-service training for regular classroom teachers about hearing loss.
  • Provide FM system (free field systems/extension for hearing aids).
  • Choose sensitive and inclusive instructors who exhibit superior classroom management skills.
  • Strategically situate classrooms away from noise, i.e. adjacent traffic, road construction, playgrounds, cafeterias, music/band room, gymnasium.

 

Communication Facilitators

Parents who want their child’s school district to provide the child with an interpreter (either sign language or oral), a Cued speech transliterator or language facilitator must communicate their request properly, focusing on educational goals and outcomes. Parents should assert that their child is not able to follow what is being said in the classroom without an interpreter/transliterator/facilitator, and that the child is suffering (or will suffer) frustration in the classroom without this assistance. The primary function of these personnel is to act as a facilitator of communication between the students who are deaf and hard of hearing, the educational staff, and hearing peers in an educational environment.

  • A Sign Language Interpreter takes voiced English information and interprets it into American Sign Language (ASL) or other manual communication. Additionally, this professional interprets ASL or manual communication into voiced English.
  • An Oral Interpreter gives a precise rendering of spoken words via lip movements for students who read lips.
  • A Cued Speech Transliterator conveys everything said by the teacher, classmates, and visitors, as well as the relevant sounds in the environment, such as a door slamming, through the use of Cues.
  • A Language Facilitator provides communication support and language enhancement/enrichment to facilitate communication among children with a hearing loss and their peers, teachers and other school personnel.