Students with Hearing Impairments
Hearing impairments range from a slight loss to total deafness. Some hearing losses might be correctable through amplification. However, in the majority of cases, sound quality is affected by amplification and even if a sound is heard, it may be unintelligible. All hearing impairments are unique, and services provided will be arranged on a personal basis.
Hearing-impaired people communicate in a variety of ways:
■ Residual hearing and speech reading involves making use of one's residual hearing and the speakers mouth movements and facial expressions to understand the message. Only about 30% of the words in English are clearly identifiable on the mouth.
■ Signed English is a communication system in which manual signs and finger spelling are used to reproduce the speaker's exact words with English syntax. This system is often used in classroom interpreting.
■ American Sign Language is a visual-gestural language with vocabulary and grammar different from that of the hearing population.
■ Both deaf and hard-of-hearing persons can benefit from real-time captioning. This court reporter style of word processing projects words onto a large screen at the front of the room almost simultaneously as they are being spoken.
ISSUES TO CONSIDER:
The real disability of deafness is that of being isolated from the normal means of acquiring and transmitting language. The major communication difficulty for hearing-impaired people is the lack of a language frame of reference for learning to speak, write, and read. This may be apparent in any written assignment and is best compared to the written communication of the English as a non-native language population. It is also true that communication loss occurs when a person cannot enjoy the comfort of natural conversation, hear a radio announcement, understand a news or entertainment program on television or share the latest joke. All of this challenges the hearing-impaired person socially, educationally, occupationally, and emotionally.
■ Often the hearing-impaired individual will need to utilize a note taker in class. This is particularly true if an interpreter or captioning is being watched. Many times another student will take the notes; when that is the case, special paper is provided by DS so the note taker can simply provide a copy of the day's notes at the end of class.
■ The hearing-impaired student will almost always need to sit at the front of the class in order to get as much from hearing as possible, and to be in a position to lip read the interpreter and/or instructor. If an interpreter is being utilized, discuss with the student and the interpreter where it would be best for the interpreter to be located. The student needs to see the interpreter very clearly.
■ If you have a hearing-impaired student in class, try not to lecture with your back to the class (as when writing on the blackboard), because it destroys any chance of the student getting any facial or lip reading cues. Using an overhead projector will alleviate this.
■ When other students in the class ask questions, if you repeat the question before answering it, the student with a hearing impairment will know what the question was.
■ Be aware that when giving procedural or other key information that requires students to do writing, the hearing impaired student will miss all the information if not looking up at the instructor, interpreter, or captioner.
■ Arrange desks in a circle, rather than in rows, particularly if it's a discussion.
■ Feel free to call upon the hearing-impaired student in class as you would do with any other students.
■ Try to avoid standing in front of a strong light source such as windows, because the glare from behind you makes it difficult to read lips and other facial features.
■ Using visual media is usually helpful to the hearing-impaired student to supplement and reinforce what is being said. If a film is being shown and lighting is reduced, check to see that sufficient light is available for the student to see the interpreter's signs and lip movements.
■ Whenever possible, supply in advance a list of words or terms to the student, interpreter or captioner. This will eliminate confusion when acquiring new concepts and certainly will facilitate the learning process.
■ You will be contacted by the DS if an interpreter or a captioner is going to be used in your class. When that is the case, you will be provided with necessary information about expectations and concerns around the issue of interpreters or captioners in the classroom.
■ Get hearing-impaired student's attention before beginning to speak. This might necessitate physical contact.
■ You can use facial expression to help convey your message, but you do not need to exaggerate your mouth movements. Over-emphasizing words distorts the lips, making speech reading more difficult. It is important for you to speak slowly and clearly, enunciating each word without force or tension.
■ It is important to maintain eye contact with the hearing-impaired student. This eye contact conveys a feeling of direct communication.
■ Do not place anything in front of your mouth when speaking. Smoking, mustaches, gum chewing and putting your hands in front of your face all make it difficult for hearing-impaired persons to follow what is being said.
■ Don't be embarrassed to communicate by paper and pencil if necessary. Getting the message across is more important than the medium used.
If you have a situation which isn't applicable to the above suggestions, please contact DS at Ext. 7760 or 7765 for further assistance.
● Comtek Personal FM System amplifier for use w/earphones or individual hearing aid.
● Stethoscopes with amplification.
● Real time captioning
● Web/video relay
● The Oregon Relay is a quick, efficient and free service that requires no added equipment. Simply call 1-800-735-1232 and the relay operator will further direct you. For more information of assistance, please call the DS office.