Post by PSIBK USD
Classroom Environment Poses Challenges to Kids with Hearing Loss
Vocal volume, listening distance, and background noise are the three major classroom factors to be considered when teaching a child with special hearing needs.
Parents of children with hearing disabilities will quickly learn how to communicate with them effectively at home. They will know how close they need to be and at what volume their voices must be kept for the child to interpret what is being said. With early intervention and available technology such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, language and learning delays that were once thought to be a forgone conclusion can be minimized.
Due to these advancements in technology and understanding, many more hearing impaired children are able to enter into mainstream preschools and kindergartens with exceptional communication and listening skills. But there are environmental factors that exist in a classroom that will affect their ability to listen, learn, and keep up with their peers.
Importance of Listening Range and Volume for Special Needs Child
The range of an impaired child’s hearing ability is well defined in a quiet space. If a caregiver or teacher is out of that “listening bubble” and the child is not watching intently, she will be unaware that an attempt at communication is occurring. It is very important that the student with partial hearing loss is placed very near the teacher at all times during lessons.
Here are a few other suggestions to aid a child with a limited listening range:
- Use visual aids during lessons
- Write major points on the board
- Provide handouts of important topic information
- Speak loudly and clearly
- Face the students when speaking
- Arrange classroom in a circle so child can see everyone
- Speak slowly and repeat ideas in different ways
- Allow tape recorders
- Pair student with a “study buddy”
Background Noise and Reverberation in the Classroom
With a small amount of effort, children of average hearing are able to tune out audible distractions such as road noise, air conditioning, and chatter. But kids with hearing disabilities have difficulty filtering out background noise, and hearing aids or cochlear implants do not perform this task either. All noises are amplified by the devices and handed to the child in a mixed up bundle.
Additionally, varying degrees of hearing loss can present challenges for children as well. Some children experience hearing loss at higher frequencies and some have difficulties in the lower range.
Knowing how a child is hearing is very important in determining how to structure the most supportive classroom environment. Minimizing background noise and reverberation should be a priority. Here are some suggestions:
- Keep windows closed
- Turn down air conditioners
- Insist that students do not talk during oral presentations
- Look into floor rugs and/or acoustic wall panels
- Use an FM device to enhance signal-to-noise ratio (S/N enhancing device)
- Install tennis balls on the bottom of classroom chairs
When children with hearing loss try to learn in a noisy, unsupportive classroom environment, they can quickly fall behind in their educational efforts. Listening to a lesson in this type of setting would be like trying to do a puzzle with half the pieces missing. But when the appropriate accommodations are provided, children with hearing impairment can enjoy school and thrive, as do their peers with normal hearing abilities.