Hearing Impairment refers to the defects occurring to the structure or function of one’s hearing organs, resulting in the loss of ability in sensing certain frequency or lower amplitude of sound. As a result, a person with hearing impairment usually has difficulties in hearing or identifying the sound, which leads to the significant difficulties and limitations in his/her daily life.
Features of Hearing Impairment
Hearing impairment can be divided into two kinds: weak hearing and total deafness. People with weak hearing can use hearing aids to strengthen their weak hearing, but those who are severely defected may not hear clearly even with the hearing aids. However, for people who are totally deaf, even though they may hear to some extent, they cannot communicate with others by means of hearing and must learn or communicate through vision (such as using sign language, writing, lip reading, etc.).
Although students with hearing impairment have difficulties in hearing the sound, they are much less tolerant of noise than ordinary people, especially more vulnerable to noise after wearing hearing aids.
Most students with hearing impairment have good vocal cords; however, as they cannot hear or hear clearly, they have difficulties in learning to produce sound with their vocal cords. Even if they can produce sound, their voice clarity is also poor. Nevertheless, some well-trained hearing impaired students can still use language to communicate effectively.
Students with hearing impairment may encounter difficulties such as:
- The mother language of some students with hearing impairment is sign language, which differs with other languages in grammar. Therefore, even if they can partly hear or can read lips, they cannot fully understand the spoken dialogue;
- Since they have difficulties in processing different sources of sound or in reading the lips of a crowd at one time, they may feel extremely difficult when participating in group discussions or activities;
- Hearing aids can amplify the sound but at the same time the noise as well, which makes it hard for the user to receive clearly the main acoustic information;
- The difficulties in communication often bring them a sense of loneliness, inferiority and other negative emotions;
- Due to their anxiety and embarrassment, they are reluctant to seek help or ask for repetition.
How to Help Students with Hearing Impairment
Tips for Teachers:
- Teachers may discuss with the students with hearing impairment the most suitable voice volume, speech rate and seating arrangements for them,;
- Teachers may include the main course content into teaching texts, and make use of written materials;
- Teachers should avoid group discussions as much as possible. If a group discussion is needed, teachers should guide students to speak clearly one by one facing the group member with hearing impairment;
- Teachers should face the students when teaching, and avoid writing or walking back and forth when speaking, and never walk out of their sights;
- Teachers should avoid covering the lips by the book or other things when speaking, and avoid standing in front of bright light when instructing, so as not to affect their lip-reading;
- Teachers may increase their facial expressions, hand movements and other body gestures according to the course contents;
- Teachers may repeat any student’s questions or comments by facing the whole class, so that they can also share the information;
- Teachers may select movies with subtitles if video materials are to be used in the classroom;
- Teachers should maintain the classroom in the state of very low noise. Any noises and echoes from the floor, walls or fans will affect the reception of their hearing aids;
- Teachers should meet their special needs in considering extending the time of examination or the deadline for homework.
Tips for students:
- Since the students with hearing impairment vary from person to person, please take the initiative to understand them and care for their needs and the difficulties they are facing;
- Please communicate with them face-to-face so that they can better receive every word you say; if necessary, you may use writing to assist communication;
- During group discussion or conversation, try your best to let them understand the discussion so that they won’t feel isolated;
- Please listen to them patiently and show your encouragement to them. When they cannot manage to articulate their ideas, please help them to express;
- During the dialogue, if they cannot understand certain words or sentences, try to express in a different way rather than repeating the same words;
- In case of emergency, you may use a flashlight or other lights to inform and guide them to a safe place;
- Please be empathetic and try to experience their daily lives, their thoughts and feelings.