Hard of hearing, often abbreviated as HoH is one of the disabilities that a section of students face in their normal day lives. According to Rinat and Zidan (2018), HoH is a condition one has some degree of hearing loss. Their condition may not be as severe as a deaf person, who has very little to no functional hearing, but they are unable hear as normal people do. The condition may be caused by too much ear wax, exposure to prolonged loud noise, side effects of some medications or an object getting stuck in one’s ear (Csizér & Kontra, 2020). A HoH student will require an auditory device to provide them with adequate assistance in their speech process.
It is important to note that if the condition develops when one had already learned how to speak, then their ability to articulate themselves in spoken words will not be affected. However, hearing loss can have a major impact on a child’s ability to develop language and speech skills. In this case, the assumption is that the learner has the ability to speak, with the primary problem being the partial loss of hearing capacity. Khalid (2018) warns that such students tend to be sensitive, especially when people speak and lough around them and they are unable to understand what they are saying. They may feel that they are being ridiculed or even being ignored at a time when they expect assistance and cooperation by those who are around them. As a teacher, it is necessary to understand the special attention that such learners require.
How the Characteristics May Impact a Student in a School Setting
Students who suffer from hearing loss are significantly affected in their learning processes, especially when they were normal before and have to adjust because of their condition. To provide the relevant assistance to such learners, it is important for teachers, parents, and other relevant stakeholders to understand how the condition affects students both socially and academically.
Hearing loss has a major impact on the social life of a learner, irrespective of the age or stage of learning. One of the major impacts is the loss of friends because of the condition. Such a student can no longer relate with peers in ways that they did before they developed the problem. They may withdraw from the social groups they previously belonged because they feel they do not fit anymore. Some of the friends may not be understanding enough to be considerate when engaging with them in social setting. Sometimes they may have to shout or expect others to do the same to enable them understand what they say. The feeling of rejection may force some of these students to find new friends who may either have the same condition or considerate enough to understand their problem. HoH learners tend to be overly sensitive both at school and at home.
Hearing loss has a devastating impact on a student’s academic performance. HoH students cannot effectively listen to instructions in a normal classroom setting meant for normal students. It means that if they developed the condition at advanced stages of learning, they will struggle to adapt to their new condition. Rinat and Zidan (2018) note that in most of the cases, such students have to be taken to different institutions where their condition can be managed. The problem arises when the only option that they have is to attend the school for the deaf. A HoH student is not completely deaf as they have some degree of hearing. When taken to school for the deaf, they may not perfectly fit in because of many reasons.
First, such a learner may not have the mastery of sign language. They may be forced to spend a lot of time learning the sign language before they can fit properly in a class for the deaf. It means that they might lose an academic year, or even longer as they try to understand the sign language. Secondly, such students may also feel that their condition is mild, and as such, do not deserve such an extreme change. Their academic performance will significantly be affected by the condition. They may start to register dismal performance in some of their favorite subjects because of the change in the mode of instructions. The social impact, discussed in the subsection above, will also directly affect their academic performance.
Accommodations, Modifications, Strategies, and Technology to Help the Student Access and Progress in the General Curriculum
HoH students require assistance to ensure that they have access to and progress in the general curriculum. They need to be accommodated effectively based on their new condition. Offering them social support is critical to ensure that they can continue with their education normally. Teachers need to sensitive the entire student body about the condition and the importance of avoiding any form of discrimination. Such students need to have a sense of belonging and a constant reminder that their condition does not in any way affect their academic performance. Parents also need to be informed about the support that they need to give the child to ensure that they are not psychologically affected by the condition.
Technology is critical when it comes to assisting students who develop hearing problems. According to Rinat and Zidan (2018), technology has evolved and advanced in an effort to assist those with hearing impairment. Assistive listening devices meant for those with hearing problems are currently available and custom-made based on an individual’s condition (Alasim Paul, 2019). These devices are classified into 4 categories and are used in different settings. The categories include amplified telephones, personal amplifiers, notification systems, and television streamers. In a modern learning environment where classes are sometimes conducted online, amplified telephones are critical for HoH students. This device is simple to use but very effective (Luckner & Dorn, 2017). A learner only needs to adjust the volume accordingly to ensure that they can effectively listen to instructions of the teacher. It can also be instrumental when the learner is involved in online group discussions with classmates.
Notification systems have become instrumental in assisting HoH students in their learning process. The notification may be in form of an alarm or preferably a vibration of a hand-held device or a wrist device. The device would vibrate whenever the attention of the student is needed or a new material is delivered. Such vibrations assists these learners by enabling them to be updated about academic activities in online classes. If an alarm has to be used instead of a vibrating device, then Khalid (2018) insists that the volume of the alarm may need to be higher than would be necessary for a normal student. TV streamers are also used when a student is in an online classroom. This device transmits radio waves wirelessly from a television to a headset. As such, the user can rely on it to listen to instructions in the online class.
In a physical classroom setting, personal amplifies- also known as pocket talkers, are often considered the most effective. Traditional personal amplifier consists of a microphone and a headset. The speaker would have to hold the microphone while speaking, and the learner would adjust the volume of the headphone accordingly. The device has been improved and the microphone is now integrated into the device (Csizér & Kontra, 2020). It means that such a learner can attend classes meant for normal students as long as they have this device. Modern personal amplifiers is currently the single-most important assistive device for HoH students.
New strategies and modifications may be needed in a classroom setting and general curriculum development when one or more students develops the condition in a classroom setting. When developing lesson plans, a teacher must take into consideration the uniqueness of the HoH student and ensure that they will not be left out. When the condition is not extreme, an easy strategy would be to ensure that such learners are given front seats so that they can be as close as possible to the teacher. The teacher may also need to speak louder than they normally would in such a class. When the condition is serious, then having assistive listening devices discussed above would be essential. The goal is to ensure that the learner is able to attend all the classes and listen to instructions given as would a normal student.
Alasim, K., Paul, P. (2019). Understanding factors that affect teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion of students who are hard of hearing in Saudi Arabia. Deafness & Education International, 21(4), 210-226. Web.
Csizér, K., & Kontra, E. (2020). Foreign language learning characteristics of deaf and severely hard-of-hearing students. The Modern Language Journal, 104(1), 233-249. Web.
Khalid, A. (2018). Participation and interaction of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in inclusion classroom. International Journal of Special Education, 33(2), 493-506. Web.
Luckner, J., & Dorn, B. (2017). Job satisfaction of teachers of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 22(3), 336-345. Web.
Rinat, M., & Zidan, H. (2018). Differences in self-advocacy among hard of hearing and typical hearing students. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 72(1), 118-127.