How Teachers Can Help Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

By hissign|August 25, 2021|Blogs|0 comments

According to the CDC, hearing loss affects 14.9% of children in the United States. While hearing loss may vary from mild to severe, students who are Deaf and hard of hearing encounter unique challenges in classroom settings. However, with the proper accommodations, including ASL video remote interpreting, TypeWell, and CART services–provided by their Northern Virginia teachers, they can achieve academic success. 

At HIS Sign, our ASL interpreters provide support for students who are Deaf and hard of hearing at several schools in the Washington D.C., Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia area. We continue to advocate for the needs and interests of the Deaf and hard of hearing community to create equitable change and inclusiveness in our evolving society. Reach out to HIS Sign Interpreting for additional information on ASL and Deaf community resources.

Below, we provide more information on what teachers need to know if they have Deaf and hard of hearing students in their classroom this year.

Be Aware of The Signs of Hearing Loss in Children

While more severe hearing loss cases are identified before a child enrolls in school, children with mild to moderate hearing loss may go unrecognized. If you are aware of the signs, then you may be able to detect hearing loss in your students. Early identification of hearing loss is important to adjusting teaching methods and accommodating students as needed.

Whether hearing loss is due to an injury, illness, or disease, it can occur at any age. We recommend that education professionals be aware of the various signs: 

  • Excessively raising the volume on the TV
  • Responding inappropriately
  • Not acknowledging when they are called on
  • Observing others and imitating their actions
  • Academic hardships
  • Ear pain or head noise complaints
  • Asking others to repeat themselves
  • Speaking differently than peers of the same age 

Understand the Challenges of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students 

  • Poor classroom layouts (rows of desks facing forward) and certain lighting may place visual challenges on those who are Deaf. They rely on these visual cues, especially when a teacher or peers are speaking.
  • For students with mild to moderate hearing loss, background noise can prevent them from hearing directions or feedback.
  • When teachers utilize a traditional lecture method (speaking to the class in the front only) Deaf or hard of hearing students may be placed near them, but they wouldn’t be able to hear others across the room well. 
  • Backlighting, when the speaker is positioned in front of a window, makes it hard to make out what is being communicated. This is excruciatingly difficult for students who lip-read (also known as speech read) or require ASL interpreter support. 
  • Taking notes is a difficult task as many Deaf and hard-of-hearing students heavily rely on visual learning and cues. 
  • While group work is a normal part of classroom routines, Deaf and hard-of-hearing students may have trouble understanding their peers. This can make it difficult for them to participate, causing them to feel left out. 
  • When struggling to be social with their classmates, children with hearing loss may resort to isolation.

Be Flexible and Accommodate Students Who Lip Read

Students who lip-read can see about 4-5 words in a 12-word sentence, leaving the rest for them to carefully piece together. Teachers can adapt to new teaching methods, helping lip-reading students achieve academic success while boosting their confidence. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Change your seating arrangement into a U-shape and keep in mind where you are standing when addressing each student. Ensure you are in their line of sight.
  • Facing each child directly as well as providing notes in advance will allow them to narrow their focus on you while engaging in the lesson rather than on taking notes.
  • For group work or social events, organize small-sized groups instead so each child feels more at ease and not overwhelmed in large group environments.
  • Maintain eye contact, articulate, but do not yell. 
  • In areas where students or a teacher are lit from behind, reading their lips is incredibly difficult. Consider using overhead lighting and closed curtains for adequate lighting.
  • Be patient with Deaf and hard of hearing students and give them time to identify the speaker and review materials before speaking up.
  • Check-in with your students often and throughout lessons, making sure they are understanding the lecture and feel comfortable asking questions. 

Make Additional Accommodations for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

If you are new to educating Deaf and hard-of-hearing students, being flexible is of the utmost importance. As you make adjustments and work alongside interpreters, these students may use hearing aids, assistive listening devices, captions, and transcriptions. 

Think about requesting professional ASL interpreting services to further support Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in your classroom. Sign language interpreters will help bridge the gap in your learning environment, which allows your students to learn freely without feeling left behind. 

Educate Students on How to Communicate With Those Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The most common occurrence for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students is social isolation. Teach all your students basic ASL, fingerspelling, and how to properly interact with lip-readers. Consider pairing a Deaf and hard-of-hearing student with an adult interpreter that can provide additional assistance and schedule school outings that are enjoyable for everyone. 

Overall, remember to avoid making them feel “different” and causing them to stand out because they are Deaf or hard of hearing. Prioritize helping them feel comfortable and safe so that they can learn without barriers and confidently connect with others. 

Choose Video Remote ASL Interpreting in Northern Virginia!

Today, around 86% of Deaf and hard-of-hearing students are taught in general education settings. A great way to accommodate Deaf or hard-of-hearing students is by enlisting the help of a sign language interpreter. At HIS Sign Interpreting, our ASL remote video interpreters are highly skilled and can smooth out teaching and learning challenges between teachers and students. As more people work from home or attend school virtually, they are available to provide video remote interpreting services in Northern VA, Suburban Maryland, and DC. 

For more information on our services or to schedule an appointment, fill out our online form or contact (877) 458-7408.

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