Deafness and Hard of Hearing
A guide for parents and educators.
Deafness and Hard of Hearing Described
Deafness refers to severe hearing impairments where children are incapable of processing linguistic information through hearing even with amplification.
Hard of hearing, on the other hand, refers to a permanent or fluctuating hearing impairment that is not included under the definition of deafness.
Both conditions must adversely affect a child's education to receive special services through IDEA.
Characteristics in the Classroom
- Difficulty following verbal directions
- Difficulty with oral expression
- Will often have a degree of language delay
- Will usually exhibit some form of articulation difficulty
- Difficulties with speech, reading, and writing skills, given the close relationship between language development and hearing
- Some difficulties with social/emotional or interpersonal skills
- Often follows and rarely leads
- Can become easily frustrated if their needs are not met which will lead to some behavioral difficulties
- Sometimes the use of hearing aids leads to embarassment and fear of rejection from peers
- Be skilled lip readers, but many are not; only 30 to 40 percent of spoken English is distinguishable on the mouth and lips under the best of conditions
- Use speech, lip reading, hearing aids and/or amplification systems to enhance oral communication
- Be members of a distinct linguistic and cultural group; as a cultural group, they may have their own values, social norms and traditions
- Use American Sign Language as their first language, with English as their second language
Simulation of Hearing Loss in the Classroom
Amplification options include
- Personal FM devices
- Personal hearing devices (hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc.)
- Walkman-style FM devices
To enhance communication, the teacher can
- provide specialized seating
- reduce background noise
- reduce visual distractions
- clearly enunciate speech
- repeat or rephase when necessary
- allow extra time for processing
- work with an in-class educational interpreter
During instruction the teacher can
- use visual supplements
- provide captioning or scripts for announcements, television, videos, or movies
- assign a note-taker for the student with hearing loss
- provide down time/breaks from listening
- allow extra time to complete assignements
Helpful Links for Teachers and Educators
Some Instructional Practices Explained
Interpreters: Educational interpreters convey spoken and signed instruction to students with hearing loss so they can communicate fully. It is important for the educator to plan lessons with the interpreter and meet with them regularly to discuss classroom rules and processes. The interpreter and the student should always be able to see the teacher and each other, but the student's teachers and peers should always make eye contact with the student when speaking to them.
Note Takers: Hearing devices do not return a students hearing to normalcy, meaning students often need to keep their eyes on the teacher during lessons to fully take in instruction. If students with hearing loss are provided a peer note-taker, the note-taker can write down the key elements of the lesson that the student with hearing loss might have missed, allowing the student to give their full attention to the teacher during verbal instruction.
- hearing devices
- visual signals on the field
- different kinds of flags for indications
- specially lighted scoreboards to indicate the end of quarters/periods/etc.
Reading Books With Your Children: Reading with children help them to develop literary skills, become culturally aware, and be exposed to worldviews and values. Shared reading encourages communication between a parent and child and allows children to work out their own real life problems through critical thinking. When reading to your child with hearing loss you can
- translate stories using ASL
- keep both ASL and English visible
- use eye contact to encourage participation
- engage in role play to extend concepts
Communication and Managing Frustration: All kids get frustrated, but things can be particularly difficult for children with hearing loss because of strained communication. To help strengthen communication and manage frustration, parents can
- develop a language system early on, whether it be ASL, English, or a family based system
- have a consistent schedule for your child
- prepare children in advance for any changes in their daily routine
- use pictures or drawings to help your child explain why they are frustrated or angry
Helpful Links for Parents
Some More Helpful Links and Apps
My Smart Hands Baby Sign Language Dictionary
A helpful app that provides parents with the most common words used by children in sign language.
This app can help students communicate with their peers without hearing loss. It works like a deck of flashcards that can be separated into different categories.
An app full of interactive games and activities to develop listening and language skills. Very helpful for families with children with reduced hearing.
My Smart Hands Baby Sign Language Dictionary
A Final Heart-Warming Video :)
Berke, M. (2013). Reading Books With Young Deaf Children: Strategies for Mediating Between American Sign Language and English. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education,299-311.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://web.jhu.edu/disabilities/faculty/types_of_disabilities/deafness.html
DeafTEC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.deaftec.org/
Improving the Outcomes of Children with Hearing Loss. (2011, August 23). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://successforkidswithhearingloss.com/
Parenting A Deaf Child- Parenting Tips. (2005). Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.ndcs.org.uk/family_support/positive_parenting_families/parenting_resources/parenting_tips.html
The Prevalence and Incidence of Hearing Loss in Children. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Prevalence-and-Incidence-of-Hearing-Loss-in-Children/
Smith, D. D. & Tyler, N. C. (2014). Introduction to contemporary special education. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. (ISBN-13:978-0-13-294461-8)
Watson, S. (n.d) Deafness and Hard of Hearing - Characteristics. Retrieved April 16, 2015, from http://specialed.about.com/od/disabilities/a/deaf.htm