Your fall parent-teacher conferences are behind you, you're
counting down the days until Thanksgiving break. As you write your progress
reports, some of your students niggle at you—those you think need more help
accessing the curriculum. If some of these are students with hearing impairment
in need of more tailored teaching strategies and classroom accommodations, the
following suggestions may help you.
First, are you having difficulty working with classroom
teachers to carry over appropriate modifications for your students to the
classroom setting? Educating teachers about how classroom performance improves
with appropriate accommodations helps convince them to collaborate.
Try sharing Elizabeth Cole and Carol Flexer's book "Children
with Hearing Loss: Developing Listening and Talking Birth to Six," which
outlines the specific problems that children with hearing loss experience in
the classroom setting. It also provides suggested accommodations such as
addressing audiologic and environmental management, communication teaching
strategies, and classroom accommodations (see chart online [PDF]).
Notice that the first accommodation for any hearing loss is
the use of an FM system alone or in conjunction with auditory management tools
such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. Research has shown the use of
individual FM systems positively affects students with hearing loss of any
severity level—and that classroom or sound-field FM systems benefit all
One can't help but wonder how different a student's behavior
would be in a classroom in which the speech-to-noise ratio was, in fact, the
recommended +15–20 dB rather than the typical +4 dB. Thus the reason FM systems
are the initial recommendation: They are practical and beneficial for every
Audiologic management alone, however, may not be enough.
Accommodations and modifications are often needed and beneficial. Teaching and
communication strategies that are typically helpful include pre-teaching
vocabulary, providing multisensory learning opportunities, obtaining a child's
attention prior to speaking and checking for comprehension. This list is not
exhaustive, nor would every student benefit from each suggestion. Use this list
as a guide while working collaboratively with your multidisciplinary team to determine
appropriate accommodations and modifications for each student individually.
It is possible to treat students with hearing loss in the
academic environment effectively. You are one piece of the puzzle and with the
help of the audiologist, teacher of the hearing impaired, classroom teacher and
parents, you can make a world of difference to your students.