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What are the Best Ways to Teach Hearing Impaired Children?

By Synthia L. Rose
Updated: May 17, 2024

Teaching hearing impaired children is best done by using extreme amounts of face time, visual tools, and little, if any, vibration-causing devices. Young people with hearing impairments, who prefer being called hard of hearing or deaf, learn best when written instruction is concise, clear, and straightforward. In cases where teachers are not proficient in sign language, use of an interpreter can also enhance instruction.

While teachers of hearing-enabled students can turn their backs during instruction and move around the classroom, these are not the best strategies for hearing impaired children, according to researchers. One of the primary tools for teaching children with hearing impairments is the teacher’s face. It can convey tone, subtext, and skill affirmation.

For this reason, continual face time when a lesson is being presented is generally considered the best approach. Audiologists and educators suggest that teachers remain not only forward-facing, but very close to the eyes of students with hearing impairments. This enables the child to read lips more easily in addition to reading facial expressions and whole body gestures.

Visual aids are the backbone of deaf education. Such aids can include videos, slideshows, cards and photographs. Computer lessons and even wordless live theater or skits can animate a lesson plan and masterfully convey information to hearing impaired children. The best teachers of children who are hard of hearing often use lively illustrations before moving to written assignments.

Although hearing impaired children cannot hear, they are sensitive to vibrations from loud noises. Such vibrations can be a distraction and should be minimized, according to experts. Therefore, any media that includes sound should typically be muted.

Efficient communication can ensure that a well-prepared lesson plan turns into an effective learning experience for hearing impaired children. Since lectures, a staple in mainstream classrooms, cannot be used effectively in a deaf education, teachers for the hard of hearing often rely on written communication and signed communication. Experts recommend short sentences with simple subjects and verbs, avoiding complicated clauses or long phrases for both homework and in-class assignments. Complicated sentences might require further explanation, taxing the student with an excessive need to write or sign questions and decipher new directions from the teacher. Complex sentences, however, must still be taught, authorities say; some experts, in fact, suggest a special teaching emphasis on complex sentence structure for children who are hard of hearing.

While many teachers of hearing impaired children have moderate skill in sign language, those who do not typically teach alongside professional interpreters. This is considered one of the best communication strategies since it allows the teacher to use oral language while the interpreters translate. Such a practice allows more spontaneous exchange between instructors and hearing impaired children.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Ana1234 — On Jul 13, 2014

@Iluviaporos - On the other hand, hearing impaired students are going to need some specialized help if they aren't going to feel left out of ordinary classroom activities. A teacher's aide who knows how to work with the hearing impaired should be a part of their experience, especially at the beginning of the year.

By lluviaporos — On Jul 13, 2014

@MrsPramm - Honestly, having a hearing impaired child in the class could be a very good thing for a lot of teachers. It forces them to reevaluate the ways in which they teach the class and establish the classroom community.

You really have to make sure that you're presenting information in a variety of formats and giving students the freedom to access it in the way best suited to them, which is what an ideal classroom would be like anyway.

If you are just lecturing your class all the time you have more problems than just discriminating against a single student.

By MrsPramm — On Jul 12, 2014

One thing you have to remember when working with a hearing impaired child is that they will almost certainly have learned how to fake understanding. This is something that most kids will pick up anyway, but anyone with impaired hearing will be an expert at it, because it can be extremely irritating to have to ask for an explanation multiple times.

So if you are teaching a child with a hearing impairment, never take it for granted that they have understood something without proof unless you know them well enough to trust their own judgment and honesty. They might just be nodding and agreeing with you, rather than actually understanding what you're talking about and letting them get away with that does a disservice to them.

Don't single them out or anything. But pay careful attention to their work to make sure they can demonstrate understanding of discussed topics.

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