3 Ways Schools Can Make Themselves More Accessible to the Hard of Hearing

 

The hearing impaired face profound difficulties in life, including during schooling.  

Too often, hard-of-hearing (HoH) students are left behind, their obstacles in the classroom overlooked or ignored. This needs to change. We'll go over a few things educators can do to get started in making that change.

 

Redesign the Classroom

If HoH students are to reach their full potential, educators must reconsider how their classroom is laid out. Many things can cause the muddling of sound — large, bare rooms, fluorescent lighting, and noisy heating systems, to name just a few.  Because it's so confusing sifting through the different sounds, HoH children may instead choose to withdraw entirely.

There are a few options for addressing this: 

  • Set up the classroom in a circular or "U" shape. This allows a HoH student to see who is speaking and assists those who rely on lip-reading. It's also important to place students in smaller groups, so it's easier for HoH students to participate in group events.

  • Invest in plush carpeting or soft furniture. A hard floor and a large room can cause sounds to bounce and distort, confusing the place where things are coming from. A few beanbag chairs and throw rugs could create a 'safe space' for HoH students where sounds are muted, and they can calm down. 

  • Consider window placement. If you're using a whiteboard or writing notes for students to copy, you might consider roll-down shades. These both mute sounds from outside and reduce glare.

Don't single anyone out. It's essential to support learning equality, but you need to do so while striking a balance. If there is the appearance of favoritism, other students might lash out at the HoH student.

 

Promote Inclusiveness

English is not the word's default language, even if it is prevalent. Your HoH students may speak other languages, so you absolutely need to ensure they can access classroom materials in their own language. You may also consider reaching out to HoH community groups for volunteers and assistance.

Always face the HoH student when speaking to them. Make sure that, if you're doing online learning, there's a way to prevent chatter or background noise from people's microphones. And finally, understand that there is no universal plan for accommodating HoH students. 

People have different learning methods. Tailor your lessons to the student if possible. The nonprofit Success For Kids With Hearing Loss provides excellent guidance in that regard.

 

Provide Resources

Many school boards are unable to supply their students with educational aids. Interactive technology is not cheap, especially tailored to the HoH. Unfortunately, there's not a lot a single teacher can do to help in that regard.

Fortunately, the prevalence of smartphones and tablets provides at least a small bridge for the gap. Automatic note-taking programs or digital copies of lectures can greatly assist HoH students at every level. You should also keep in touch with the community. 

When it comes to budget cuts in schools, special access programs are often the first to go. Most of the community doesn’t know this unless they also have a child who relies on these programs. From fundraising to suggestions for helping students in the classroom, parents can be a great help in dealing with budget cuts.

Teachers, we know you've had a rough time during the pandemic. Even still, keeping the conversation about accessibility open is as important as ever. It's too easy to push quieter matters through the cracks and address them later.

For the sake of our future, we cannot keep doing this — we must do what we can to ensure that education is accessible to everyone and no student is left behind.

 

3 Ways Schools Can Make Themselves More Accessible to the Hard of Hearing

 

The hearing impaired face profound difficulties in life, including during schooling. Here's how schools can stop leaving HoH people behind.  

Too often, hard-of-hearing (HoH) students are left behind, their obstacles in the classroom overlooked or ignored. This needs to change. We'll go over a few things educators can do to get started in making that change.

 

Redesign the Classroom

If HoH students are to reach their full potential, educators must reconsider how their classroom is laid out. Many things can cause the muddling of sound — large, bare rooms, fluorescent lighting, and noisy heating systems, to name just a few.  Because it's so confusing sifting through the different sounds, HoH children may instead choose to withdraw entirely.

There are a few options for addressing this: 

  • Set up the classroom in a circular or "U" shape. This allows a HoH student to see who is speaking and assists those who rely on lip-reading. It's also important to place students in smaller groups, so it's easier for HoH students to participate in group events.

  • Invest in plush carpeting or soft furniture. A hard floor and a large room can cause sounds to bounce and distort, confusing the place where things are coming from. A few beanbag chairs and throw rugs could create a 'safe space' for HoH students where sounds are muted, and they can calm down. 

  • Consider window placement. If you're using a whiteboard or writing notes for students to copy, you might consider roll-down shades. These both mute sounds from outside and reduce glare.

Don't single anyone out. It's essential to support learning equality, but you need to do so while striking a balance. If there is the appearance of favoritism, other students might lash out at the HoH student.

 

Promote Inclusiveness

English is not the word's default language, even if it is prevalent. Your HoH students may speak other languages, so you absolutely need to ensure they can access classroom materials in their own language. You may also consider reaching out to HoH community groups for volunteers and assistance.

Always face the HoH student when speaking to them. Make sure that, if you're doing online learning, there's a way to prevent chatter or background noise from people's microphones. And finally, understand that there is no universal plan for accommodating HoH students. 

People have different learning methods. Tailor your lessons to the student if possible. The nonprofit Success For Kids With Hearing Loss provides excellent guidance in that regard.

 

Provide Resources

Many school boards are unable to supply their students with educational aids. Interactive technology is not cheap, especially tailored to the HoH. Unfortunately, there's not a lot a single teacher can do to help in that regard.

Fortunately, the prevalence of smartphones and tablets provides at least a small bridge for the gap. Automatic note-taking programs or digital copies of lectures can greatly assist HoH students at every level. You should also keep in touch with the community. 

When it comes to budget cuts in schools, special access programs are often the first to go. Most of the community doesn’t know this unless they also have a child who relies on these programs. From fundraising to suggestions for helping students in the classroom, parents can be a great help in dealing with budget cuts.

Teachers, we know you've had a rough time during the pandemic. Even still, keeping the conversation about accessibility open is as important as ever. It's too easy to push quieter matters through the cracks and address them later.

For the sake of our future, we cannot keep doing this — we must do what we can to ensure that education is accessible to everyone and no student is left behind.

 

  

  

  

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