Teaching Students with Disabilities (III) – Hearing Loss

In keeping with our theme of inclusive teaching and teaching students with different learning abilities, this month’s topic will focus on teaching students with hearing loss. We’ll begin by briefly reminding all instructors that students are not obliged to identify their disability and also, as mentioned in our previous posting on teaching using inclusive design, instructors implementing the principles of inclusive design in their classrooms do so for the benefit of all learners regardless of their ability. Keeping this in mind let’s move onto the topic at hand.

An estimated 2.8 million Canadians have varying degrees of hearing loss, from hard-of-hearing, through deafened to deaf.  Moreover, students with hearing loss often do not self-identify their disability even though their inability to hear negatively impacts their potential for learning and participation in class. The tips that will be presented here are best practices for teaching students whatever level of hearing loss they may have.

In Classroom Tips:

Make full use of all available technology in the classroom

• Use either the wireless microphone, or the microphone wired to the teaching station. Remember to turn off any microphone that you are not using; it causes interference.

• Assistive Listening Devices (ALD / Gentners) will only transmit sound from the microphones or the VHS/DVD player when the wired or wireless microphone is on.

• Turn OFF audiovisual equipment when not in use to reduce background noise.

Permit only one student to speak at a time, and have students identify themselves (hand up) before they begin to speak or point to them.

• Repeat into the microphone all relevant Q&A from other students.

• Summarize discussion or group work visually (chalkboard, projected image, etc.)

• Incorporate visual aids, handouts, etc.

• Provide information in electronic format.

• Plan a 10 minute break every 1 1/2 hours.

• Students should sit in a circle when doing group work or when it is a small class so that each person’s face is visible

• Only talk when you are facing the students in the classroom

• Avoid moving around the room when you are talking

• Consider including information on the appropriate classroom communication environment in your course syllabus

Things to Avoid:

Situations where the student cannot clearly see your

face – e.g.- talking to the chalkboard, screen or overhead/

document camera; or positioning yourself with mirrors or

windows behind you, or shadows on your face

• Pacing or excessive movement – this interferes with voice transmission

• Talking during a film or video

• Using a film or video that cannot be close captioned

• Drawing attention to the student

• Yelling, exaggerating, or speaking unnaturally slowly

• Changing topics without letting the student know

• Extraneous noise in the classroom from students talking during lectures, typing on their keyboards, eating or otherwise creating disturbances

For more on teaching students with hearing loss see: https://www.uwo.ca/tsc/resources/pdf/AODA-FacultyGuide.pdf

For other Teaching Tips and more Teaching Resources see:

LINC Toolkit – Teaching Resources

Thank you,

The Library Instruction Committee

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