COMMUNICATION TIPS FOR INSTRUCTORS WITH STUDENTS WHO ARE HARD OF HEARING IN THE CLASSROOM
- Face the student when talking. Ensure that you do not talk to the chalkboard because hard of hearing students need to speechread.
- Keep your mouth free from obstacles including hands, untrimmed mustaches and beards. Also, anything you have in your mouth makes it difficult for the student to lipread.
- Avoid pacing – it is difficult to speechread someone who is roaming.
- Speak clearly and use a natural voice – do not exaggerate your speech or enunciate excessively. Speech that is too slow or too fast is difficult for the hard of hearing student to understand.
- Get the hard of hearing student’s attention before speaking. Do this a variety of ways so the student is not constantly singled out.
- Repeat /rephrase student questions and comments. This is really important for the hard of hearing student to have a greater awareness of what is happening in the classroom.
- Allow the student more time to respond to oral instructions and questions. Hearing people have a 0.8 second processing delay whereas hard of hearing individuals have a 3 second delay. This means that the hard of hearing student is not able to keep up in a class/group situation without your help.
- Windows and other light sources should be behind the student. It is difficult to see of you have to look at glare.
- Preferential seating is critical. The student should sit close to the front (not too close because it is difficulty to speechread when looking at some’s chin) and off to the side so they can scan the room easily when they need to figure out who is talking. A hard of hearing student may need to experiment with seating arrangements…s/he may have personal preferences specific to their hearing loss and learning needs. Seating should be away from noise sources (i.e., pencil sharpeners, fans, fish tanks, hallways, etc.). There will not be ideal place, but do make it the best seat possible.
- Reduce background noise. Anything you can do to make it quieter in the classroom will benefit students. Turn off the computer when it’s not in use…you’d be surprised how loud a computer is through a hearing aid.
Gift, J. (1995). A handbook for first year itinerant teachers of deaf and hard of hearing student in British Columbia. Burnaby School District 41.
Sherwood, D. (1998, April). Interdisciplinary views of classroom hearing accessibility: The sum of the parts. February 21 and 22, 1998. CHHA-BC Parents’ Branch Newsletter.
Special Education Branch. (1994). Hard of hearing and deaf students: A resource guide to support classroom teachers. Ministry of Education, Province of British Columbia.