One of the most common disabilities in America is hearing loss. There are roughly 8 million children in America with some form of hearing loss. An estimated one-quarter to one-third of children in elementary school have some degree of hearing loss. Though many cases are mild, hearing loss of any degree affects how students learn. The reason for this is that the maximum noise level children with normal hearing tolerate is 35 decibels, while the noise level in most classrooms reaches 55 to 75 decibels.
Hearing loss can significantly impact a person’s experience at school. Children with hearing loss often do not recognize social cues. They can also miss 10 percent or more of the information the teacher is presenting to the classroom. Hearing loss also inhibits a child from learning from their environment. Much knowledge is gained from non-specific cues in the environment, and hearing loss makes it more difficult for a child to gain this information.
Both teachers and other students can help make school easier for a hearing-impaired student. When speaking to a student with hearing loss, don’t turn away from them or cover your mouth. Instead, speak slowly and enunciate your words. If the child with hearing loss doesn’t understand what you’re saying, don’t repeat the same words over and over again, but try rephrasing. When speaking, use many verbal cues, such as writing words down or using large hand gestures. Also, the child should not be seated next to the door, an air conditioner, or heater. If you are a student placed next to another student with hearing loss, offer to write down what the teacher is saying.
Because children with hearing-impairments face a more difficult learning environment, they should receive all the help they need. With the proper support, a hearing-impaired student can enjoy school and be as successful as any other student.
high school student writer
Read Jenna's story about living well with a vision impairment.