Going back to school can be intimidating for even the most confident of students, but deaf children or children with hearing loss have even more obstacles. Imagine walking into a new building where you not only do not know your way around, but you cannot ask anyone for help. If you can ask for help, it may be embarrassing to use your voice or ask for special accommodations. Children with hearing loss may need a little more encouragement and guidance through the back to school process.
Between two and three out of every 1,000 births results in a child with hearing loss, and 90 percent of those children are born to parents with full hearing. Pre-natal, genetic diseases cause most deafness in children, and post-natal issues generally stem from infection, disease, or a traumatic incident. The two main types of childhood deafness are conductive deafness and sensori-neural deafness, though there can also be a mixture of both. The former is more prominent, caused by fluid build-up in the middle ear, and is most often temporary. The later indicates damage within the cochlea and is permanent. Parents of children with hearing loss should talk to their doctor to fully understand the differences and specificities of their child’s condition. With this information, they can better equip teachers, peers, and school staff to coordinate with their child.
Hearing Loss Tools in Schools: IEP
For parents of children with hearing loss, an individualized education program can inform their teachers how to best teach their child and give a framework for the year. An IEP sets includes information about the child’s current performance level, goals for the year, support provided by the schools, accommodations necessary, measurement tools, and transitional plans for post-primary school. Talk to your child about what they hope to get out of school and how their teacher can help them achieve their goals.
Hearing Loss Tools in School: Assistive Technology
You can also talk to your child about hearing aids and answer their questions. Young children may be used to hearing aids, but entering school with the devices may be scary. They may fear the social stigma, but as parents, you can praise the benefits of hearing aids. Other technologies able to be used in the classroom include sound systems with teachers using microphones or tablets that translate voice to text. Embrace technology in the classroom to help students with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Tools in School: Communication and Sign Language
Not every student with hearing loss uses sign language, but this can be a useful skill to learn for those students who do require non-spoken word. Teachers can also use body language and hand movements to help communicate ideas. Additionally, over-annunciation and forward facing can help students who read lips. Handouts can help students read instead of hear the lesson, and movies or videos should always have captions. Students with hearing loss or deafness should not be made to feel ostracized, so parents, peers, and teachers need to work together to provide support.
By: Diana Michel