November 1, 2013 Columns

School Matters: Accommodating Hearing Loss

Students on your caseload who have hearing loss could benefit from some simple accommodations.

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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.

School Matters

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 students.

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 child.

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.

Maria Del Duca, MS, CCC-SLP, owns a private practice, Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC, in Southern Arizona, and has a blog with the same name ( She is an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues. This column is adapted from her ASHAsphere blog post (

cite as: Del Duca, M. (2013, November 01). School Matters: Accommodating Hearing Loss. The ASHA Leader.


Cole, E., & Flexer, C. (2007). Classroom accommodations for students with hearing impairment. San Diego: Plural Publishing, Inc.

Hall, H. Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Hearing Loss [PPT]. N.d. PowerPoint Presentation. website. 22 Feb 2013.

University of South Dakota, Sanford School of Medicine Center for Disabilities. Classroom accommodations for students with hearing impairment [PDF]. Sioux City, SD.


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