Assisting Students Who are Hard of Hearing

Assisting Students Who are Hard of Hearing

Matt DearingAccessibility, Communication, Community, Family and Friends, Health, Hearing

Learning at school can be challenging for any student, but the problems can be even more numerous for a child with hearing loss. Even if a child doesn’t have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), teachers and administrators can help them get through any problems and reach their full potential by doing many different things.

During parent-teacher conferences or other school meetings, it’s a good idea to discuss these ideas and come up with your own so that everyone involved in the child’s education is on the same page.

Find ways to talk to the student more effectively.

Don’t talk when you’re not facing the student, like walking around the room or writing on the board. If the student can see your face while you talk, they will understand more of what you say.

Use your face and body to emphasize what you’re saying when it’s right. Don’t go overboard, but these nonverbal cues help the student understand what you’re saying.

Give the student a copy of the notes you’ve taken, so they don’t have to try to write while listening. This way, the student can get any notes or instructions they missed or have them repeated. You could also give the student a partner who will pay close attention and take good notes.

Please work with the student to devise a secret signal for when they have trouble hearing. This could be a “thumbs down” sign or anything else that gets the job done without being obvious.


Get rid of as much background noise as you can.

Close the classroom door as often as possible to cut down on noise from the hallway. This change is likely to help all of the kids in the class.

If the classroom floor is tile, look for a rug to put down. This makes the room sound better and blocks out a lot of noise that would otherwise be annoying.


Help the student interact with the other students.

If you can, put the desks or tables in a big circle so that each student can see and talk to everyone else in the room. Even if the student can’t always hear what’s being said, this will help him, or her feel involved and included.

As you call on students, point to them and say their names. This will help the child pay attention to each speaker and make it less likely that they will miss something important.

If the student is in a lower grade and uses sign language, have the student teach the class one word in sign language daily. It’s a good idea to show kids from a young age that hearing problems aren’t insurmountable and that they can still communicate well.


Think about hearing aid technology.

If the child has a hearing aid, it can be used in many different ways in the classroom. Most of them involve the teacher wearing a microphone that sends a signal directly to the hearing aid, which makes the teacher’s voice louder.

Sound field systems also need the teacher to wear a microphone, but strategically placed speakers spread the sound throughout the classroom. This technology can help all students in the class because it raises the speech-to-noise decibel ratio. This measures how much louder the teacher’s voice is than other background sounds. Without amplification, this ratio is often much lower in classrooms than it should be. This means either the teacher’s voice is too quiet or the background sounds are too loud (or both).

Some systems can turn what you say into text that you can read on something like a tablet computer. This could be a good choice if the student has difficulty hearing or if the rest of the class is usually loud. In these cases, the other choices might not work as well.


Make sure that any videos or movies shown in class have closed captioning.

Captions are words that appear on the screen of a TV, computer, mobile device, or movie theater. They show what people are saying or hearing in a program or video. With captions, people can follow both the dialogue and the action of a show at the same time.

People with hearing loss who still have some hearing can understand spoken words better with captions. This is because hearing, like vision, is affected by what we expect to hear.

Hopefully, these tips will help your student learn better this school year!