By David Solomon
Did you know that 15% of school-age children have some degree of hearing loss? To better accommodate students’ needs, teachers need to understand and evaluate their physical challenges from the start. They’re easy to overlook, especially if the child tends to be quiet in the classroom. Every student deserves access to life-enriching education, but to build their knowledge, they first need to be able to hear what the teacher is saying.
Luckily, educators have a lot of tools at their fingertips to help them build an inclusive learning environment. Here are four simple ways teachers can incorporate accommodations for students with hearing loss.
• Foster a strong classroom dialogue. Ways for teachers to do this include addressing every student by their name to capture their attention, minimizing background noise, and making sure your voice can be heard anywhere in the room. Children spend 75% of their day listening, and a classroom audio system is the most effective way to ensure an even distribution of highly intelligible sound throughout the classroom..
• Schedule one-to-one meetings. It’s never too late to spend time getting to know your students to better understand their needs in the classroom. A simple way to do this is by organizing personal check-in time with each student. When a student sees their teacher as a positive influence and someone who is invested in their learning, they’re more likely to behave appropriately and feel motivated.
• Turn on closed captioning. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it can easily be overlooked. If you have students who have a hard time hearing, provide them extra resources like closed captioning or a copy of written notes after a lecture.
• Speak slowly and enunciate. Your students may be able to hear you, but sometimes they can’t understand you. Children can struggle academically when they can’t make out what the teacher just said. During the next lesson, try slowing down, pausing, and asking the students if they understand what you’re saying or asking.
Any child suffering from hearing loss should be seen by a professional for an evaluation. But in the classroom, educators play an important role by facilitating an inclusive learning environment that accommodates every student.