How to ensure the best learning environment for your hearing-impaired child

Creating the optimal learning environment for a hearing-impaired child requires that the school, parents, and the student all work together. Kelly Dvorak, Au.D. and Karin Zylka, Au.D., audiologists at Sertoma Speech and Hearing Centers, offer advice for how all three can work together to achieve educational success.

“Everybody needs to go in and have an open mind. Be willing to hear what others have to say. That is true for parents, teachers, and administrators,” Dvorak says. “Have an attitude of let’s see what we can work out together. It is a team, not a battle.”

Each team member plays an important part.

What parents can do

Dvorak tells the parents of her patients it is important to educate themselves about hearing loss and the implications it can have on both everyday life and education.

She says that part of that education involves speaking up when a question arises. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether that be of the audiologist, teachers, or people in charge of the IEP,” she says.

What schools can do

Schools can make environmental changes to the classroom.

“Placing carpets in the room, tennis balls on the legs of chairs, acoustic ceiling tiles, or fabric on the walls can all decrease the amount of noise and echo in the classroom,” says Zylka, who notes that those small changes benefit all students.

Another option is exploring technology options. Using an FM system can be exceptionally helpful.

“An FM system consists of a microphone (transmitter) that the teacher wears and a receiver that the student uses. The receivers can be attached to the student’s hearing aid or they can be used by students without hearing aids as well. The receivers can be ear level, desktop or wall speakers,” she says.

Dvorak notes that sound field FM systems can be good for all, because “the teacher doesn’t have to raise her voice and all kids hear the teacher’s voice at a higher level.”

What students can do

“It is definitely a necessity for the student to be familiar with their hearing solutions and to self-advocate,” says Zylka. “The students need to let the teachers and other students know when they cannot hear them properly.”

They also need to know how to care for their equipment.

When all involved work together, they can create an environment that makes effective learning possible for hearing impaired kids.

To find out more, click here for Sertoma’s ebook series, “What Every Mom Needs to Know About…Speech and Hearing Development of Her Child.”

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