Students who are diagnosed with a hearing impairment will experience varying degrees of hearing loss; considerations need to be made about communication strategies, as well as an awareness of individual experiences and cultures.
The specific support needs of individual students with a hearing impairment will be set out in their Support Plan.
Differing degrees of all or some of the following difficulties are likely depending upon the cause and level of hearing impairment experienced:
- Unable to hear lecturer and/or other students, as well as, video or digital voice recordings.
- Unable to hear instruction or safety warnings (including fire alarm- please refer to the PEEP’s outlined in the students Support Plan)
- Unable to communicate with lecturer or fellow students
- Limited reading and writing skills if British Sign Language (BSL), is their first language, rather than English
- May have reading comprehension difficulties
- May interpret language very literally
- Written English may be quite basic and grammatically incorrect; it may reflect the order of ‘signed’ language, i.e. the most important idea will come first
- May rely on lip reading
If you are teaching a student who does rely on lip reading it is important to assist them by:
- Standing in a good light – not in front of a window
- Facing the audience when speaking; stop talking if you turn away
- Be aware of where the student is sitting- stand where they are most likely to be able to follow the lecture/discuss a change of seat if more appropriate
- Try to stand in a fixed point
- Trying to avoid exaggerated gestures – this will distract from your face
- Speaking clearly, a little more slowly; without exaggerating words
- Trying not to block your mouth
- Keeping background noise to a minimum – rooms with carpets and curtains can help
- Repeating contributions/questions from other students
- Writing key information on the board
- In group work indicate when different people are speaking
- Consider seating arrangements that allow all learners to see each other – a circle/semi circle
As hearing impairments can affect people to varying degrees and may get progressively worse their support will have to reflect these changes.
It is therefore, important for lecturers/tutors to:
- Get to know the student’s particular needs; be prepared to meet the student before the course starts.
- Request in advance of the course starting, if necessary, an appropriate room catering to the student’s needs
- Review their needs each term to see how they and you are doing
- Take into consideration all aspects of the course including placements, field trips etc.
- Introduce material in a structured way; indicate when you are changing topics
- Summarise regularly
- Check you have the students attention
- Explain new concepts and terms carefully
- Speak in short, clear statements
- Check understanding before moving on
- Write important vocabulary on the board – reinforce spoken information with visual materials, written notes and concrete examples
- Provide subject word lists, glossaries of terms and acronyms
- Provide lecture notes/visual materials in advance
- Allow hearing recorders and be prepared to wear a radio microphone
- Be aware that written course information/instructions/essay and exam questions should be expressed in clear, straightforward language.
Changing habits and mannerisms can be difficult. It is therefore advisable for lecturers to meet with their students, to not only discuss the student’s needs, but also how the student can support their lecturer in ensuring their teaching is accessible. This also opens the channels of communication, so when things aren’t working, both parties feel comfortable discussing issues and finding solutions.
The “Teachability” materials – www.teachability.strath.ac.uk