Deaf and HOH students in the mainstream classroom
During my summers off in college I was very lucky to work as an aide for an oral school for hearing impaired children. This school specialized in oral communication for students who were Deaf or HOH, and who used devices such as cochlear implants or hearing aids. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had there and I am very excited to share what I learned with you.
When students who are Deaf or HOH are included on your caseload there are certain questions that need to be answered before we begin.
- Do they use a cochlear implant, hearing aide, or no device?
*If the student has a unilateral implant what is the hearing capacity of the unimplanted ear?
- Does the student know how their device works?
- When was their hearing loss identified?
- When did they being using their device?
- Were they in any type of speech therapy prior to the services you will provide?
Once these questions have been answered it can help you plan for the student’s needs. If the student is older they may be responsible for the care and operation of the device. The majority of the time student’s with devices will not need to worry about the functioning of their device at school, but it is always good to check. If the student uses a hearing aide, are you responsible for storing extra batteries?
I have noticed over the years that younger students tend to be more excepting of those with devices, where as older students may be more stand-offish at first. It is important to touch base with students to see how they feel about their device and if they are comfortable talking with others about it. There are a few things you can do to help students answer questions from their classmates and feel more comfortable about their devices at school. For my students who are more comfortable with their devices I have them speak to the class about it. My older students do a PowerPoint about hearing loss and their device. I have had teachers that will allow the presentation to be used as a graded assignment. Two birds one stone! We create the presentation together and do a mock question and answer session so they feel prepared. If a student is more timid about their device, start slow. Have them bring a friend or two to speech. You can tell the student’s guests about their device and allow them to ask questions that the student can answer.
Now that you have some information about your student you can start to create their plan. If the student came to you with an IEP already in place, review the goals. It may be worth a call to the former SLP, if possible, to touch base about recent progress and any good information about how the student learns. If your student does not have an IEP and you must create goals, here are some typical areas that students who are Deaf and HOH work on in the mainstream setting:
- Articulation: use a mirror when you can and pictures to help connect sounds to objects. Speech Buddies are a great tool to give them bio-tactile feedback if you have access to them.
- Auditory Discrimination
- Auditory Memory
- Advocacy Skills: Teach them it is ok to ask for repetitions or to have a quieter setting.
· These skills should be targeted either as part of their IEP or informally so students understand that asking for help is just a part of learning and they are no different than any other student who may have a question in class.
These students may also need testing accommodations such has: alternate setting, extended time, alternate presentations, etc.
It is also a good idea to touch base with the student’s teacher and answer any questions they may have, as well as, give them some tips:
- Give the student preferential seating ( in the front of the room, ‘good’ ear closest to the speaker).
- Check in with the student frequently to check for understanding of material.
- For projects and activities, partner the student with those who are patient and willing repeat information.
- Allow the student to work in a small group in the hall, where is may be quieter. Do not send them to work by themselves. This can create feelings of exclusion.
- If the student uses an FM system, make sure it is set to the correct channel
- Use visuals whenever possible.
- Ask the student if they feel they would benefit from a note taker in classes.
Here is a link to a packet with lots of good information to refresh your memories from good ole’ grad school. http://www.handsandvoices.org/pdf/mainst_cal.pdf