Some students with hearing impairment use the strategy of speech reading to enhance their understanding of oral language. This involves not only looking at the lip movement as a person speaks, but also at the facial expressions in order to determine the meaning of what is being said. In order to encourage speech reading, the teacher needs to face the student when talking. When the teacher’s back is turned, the student is forced to rely solely on what he/she hears to gain information. By facing the student, the teacher is providing the student with an extra assurance that he/she has understood the information correctly (Naussbaum, 2003). If the teacher needs to write any information on the board or overhead projector, it is important to do so before discussing the material (NDCS, 2004). This way, the students are not denied the chance to speech read while the teacher is writing down the important information. It is also important for the teacher to teach the other students to face each other when talking. In order to avoid singling out the student who is deaf or hard of hearing, the teacher can explain that it is common courtesy to face others when speaking to them, (The Ear Foundation, 1991). By doing this, the student with hearing impairment may feel more comfortable within the classroom and may be more willing to interact with peers.
Lighting plays an important role in the classroom. Many classrooms have florescent lights and windows that can cause shadows throughout the classroom. These lights can also cause a glare for people who are looking towards them. When a teacher stands with his/her back to a window, the students facing the teacher may see a glare (The Ear Foundation, 1991). Many students may look away from the teacher and concentrate solely on what the teacher is saying. For a student that relies heavily on speech reading, the backlighting causes them to rely mostly on auditory information, as he/she cannot see the speaker. In order to keep this from happening, the teacher must be aware of the lighting throughout the classroom. It might be easier to keep the blinds on the windows shut in order to eliminate one cause of glare and shadows. It is important for the teacher to watch the students within the classroom for cues as to whether or not there is a glare. If many students are looking away, squinting, or using their hand to block off part of the light, chances are there is a glare on the speaker. When a teacher spots these signals, he/she should move to another area of the room and then continue talking (Naussbaum, 2003; The Ear Foundation, 1991; Tacchi, 2005).
The teacher’s placement within the classroom also plays a major role in a student’s ability to speech read. The teacher needs to remember to stay in the same area or spot as much as possible. If the teacher is constantly walking around the classroom or pacing, the student who is speech reading will be forced to follow the speaker with his/her eyes as well as try to understand what is being said (NDCS, 2004).
When some people meet a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, they try to speak louder and slower. As a teacher, it is important to remember to speak as naturally and clearly as possible. The students are used to listening to daily conversations that are spoken at a normal rate. For this reason, and to allow for easier speech reading, speaking with too loud or soft a volume, or more quickly or slowly than normal speech can cause difficulty in comprehension of what has been said. People may think that by speaking slower they are allowing the person who is hard of hearing or deaf more time to comprehend what has been said, but in fact, they are making it harder to speech read, as the movements of the face are different from when a person is speaking naturally. It is not only important for the teacher to speak naturally, but to ensure that the student's peers do as well (Naussbaum, 2003; Tacchi, 2005).
Speech reading is easiest when standing between three and six feet away from the person to whom you are speaking. A teacher with a child who relies heavily on speech reading should always keep this in mind. If you are too close, the student might have a hard time seeing your entire face as well as watching your body language. If you are too far away, the student will have to try harder to see your face clearly enough to speech read (The Ear Foundation, 1991).
Before beginning discussions, lecturing, giving directions, or any activity that requires listening, it is important for the teacher to gain students' attention and focus on the speaker. It will also provide them with a chance to refocus their attention before any critical information has been given, therefore allowing them the chance to sure to identify the speaker whenever a new person begins talking. This means that the teacher must identify the new speaker by name, including when students are asking or answering questions during discussions. This will allow all students the chance to give the new speaker undivided attention (NDCS, 2004).
Insisting on the rule of one speaker at a time is essential, so that a child who is wearing a hearing aid will hear everything and avoid difficulties distinguishing among the noises within the classroom. By insisting on the rule of one speaker at a time, the teacher is allowing a student the chance to focus solely on the person speaking and not on tuning out background noise (Peake, 2005).
Chapter 1: The Spirit of Inclusion
Chapter 3: Technological and Medical Interventions
Chapter 4: Teaching Strategies and Accommodations
Chapter 5: Activities
Chapter 6: Social Skills
Chapter 7: Counseling Students with Hearing Impairment
Chapter 8: Working with Families