Authors: Laura Hemberger, M.A.T. and Kathryn Morrow, M.A.T. Trinity University

Students with hearing impairment must learn to be their own best advocate in order to succeed.  As a teacher of a student with hearing loss, you can teach the child to be assertive in making certain that unique communication needs are met.  Especially as students grow older, they should take responsibility for their own learning and communication (Pakulski & Kaderavek, 2002).  Teaching the following skills to students with hearing impairment will help develop effective membership in the learning community and self-monitoring of personal behavior:

  1. The student should choose the best seating in the classroom by considering distance from the teacher, lighting, and other environmental factors or distractions (Pakulski & Kaderavek, 2002);
  2. Older students should be taught how to work assistive technology, such as an FM system, and should be responsible for using it appropriately (Pakulski & Kaderavek, 2002).  (Please see the chapter on Technology on this web site.);
  3. Teachers might suggest ways of informing classmates and others of hearing loss and related communication needs, such as asking them to speak more slowly and distinctly, not cover their faces, or to look at the student when they speak (Oral Deaf Education Homepage, 2005);
  4. Students need to practice strategies for verifying unclear information.  Rather than asking broad questions (e.g., “Could you say that again?”) to which the person will likely respond by repeating a lengthy message, students should learn to request only the information missed from the conversation, such as “What pages are we supposed to read?” (Pakulski and Kaderavek, 2002).
  5. Teachers might have students practice turn-taking, where one person speaks while the other listens and then the roles reverse.  The turn-taking technique allows a child to discover that behavior can be used as a means of communicating with others.
  6. It is important to instruct students on appropriate ways to communicate their feelings.  In her 2000 study, María Suárez found that students with hearing impairments may lack emotional vocabulary, the meaning of consequences due to behavior, and ways to communicate their feelings.  (Please see Appendix A in the Teaching Activities section below for suggestions on developing emotional literacy.)