Hearing Loss in the Classroom
Accommodations and modifications in the classroom can help your child with hearing loss learn at his or her best. These include teaching strategies specific to your child’s needs, as well as simple physical accommodations—like seating placement and keeping the classroom door closed to minimize extraneous noise. Importantly, other audio technologies to supplement and/or work in conjunction with your child’s hearing aids can be extremely beneficial in enabling greater communication ease for your child.
It’s important to ask the school principal or appropriate administrator for a meeting with a multidisciplinary team—including the teacher, audiologist, speech pathologist, special education teacher, and/or others as appropriate—to determine the best accommodations and modifications for your child.
At this meeting, be sure to explore the most commonly used audio technologies to learn what can be done to help your child. Classroom technologies for children with hearing loss include FM systems, induction loop systems, and remote microphones, among others.
FM systems are wireless audio systems designed to help people hear speech better in noisy environments. Working as a standalone system—or in conjunction with your child’s hearing aids, cochlear implant, or other auditory management technology—FM systems help children with any degree of hearing loss. In fact, research shows that having FM systems in the classroom benefits all students, even those without hearing loss.
Schools are beginning to use induction loop systems—or “hearing loops”—more frequently. There is a growing movement, in fact, to make them standard in large public venues, such as performing arts centers and airports, where people need to hear broadcast sound. Hearing loops typically circle the periphery of a classroom or public space, and work on electromagnetic signals that connect with the teacher, speaker, or performer’s microphone and audio system. This enables state-of-the-art hearing aids and cochlear implants to pick up the sounds coming from the microphone—without the unwanted background noise.
Remote microphone hearing assistance technology (HAT) delivers the speech signal from the microphone to other audio devices so your child can have easier access to what the teacher is saying. HAT devices can bring the speech and sound signals from the microphone to your child in a number of ways:
- Directly to your child’s hearing aid, cochlear implant or other hearing device via a hearing loop;
- Directly to your child’s hearing aid, cochlear implant or other hearing device via a wireless receiver that your child wears;
- To a strategically positioned loudspeaker that benefits your child and others in the room;
- To a single, personal loudspeaker close to your child.
There are many options available today to help your child with hearing loss in the classroom. Figuring it all out may feel overwhelming at first. But realize there are many knowledgeable professionals in the education system and hearing health profession ready, able, and eager to guide you and help your child.
Remember: You are not alone. These professionals have gone through this many times before with parents just like you who want to do the very best for their children. The important step is setting up that initial meeting with the multidisciplinary team in order to put the best plan in place for your child.
For more information on classroom accommodations, go to Hearingpedia.