Since the swift move from traditional to online classrooms, students and teachers all over the world have had to quickly adapt to a new way of learning and teaching.
Learning in the online classroom can pose challenges for students with hearing loss. Here are 10 top tips to share with your child’s teacher or education team for supporting your child to thrive in the online classroom. We have also included an ‘All About Me’ handout for you to personalize and share with your child’s education team to provide them with key information at a glance whether in the traditional classroom or online.
1. Establish rules for communication, turn-taking, and participation in the online classroom for all students. If there are multiple students speaking, background noise being conveyed through microphones or echo, it can be extremely difficult for students with hearing loss to follow the lesson and discussion, to participate, and to maintain their attention. Provide the best acoustic learning environment for all students, by
- ensuring there is just one speaker at a time,
- muting microphones when they are not in use,
- utilizing the raise your hand feature when requesting participation from students, and
- utilizing the chat box and breakout rooms.
Using these strategies will reduce background noise, enable turn-taking, and allow students with hearing loss to focus their attention on the main speaker, understand the spoken message more easily, and participate in discussion and interactive activities.
2. Poor audio signal and connection dropouts are common online. Repeat and rephrase messages from students if they are unclear or if the audio signal is poor, so that all children are able to hear and understand what is being said.
3. Children with hearing loss often use visual cues such as facial expression, lip reading and gesture to support their understanding of spoken language. Continue to offer these additional cues in the online classroom, by keeping your video on while teaching.
4. Provide students with hearing loss access to clear lip reading cues by
- positioning yourself in a well-lit room with a plain background,
- ensuring there are no shadows over your face,
- facing the camera while speaking.
5. Just as in the traditional classroom, the use of pictures and visuals may support students with hearing loss to follow key points of the lesson more easily. Visuals help to focus students’ attention and supports understanding by providing additional information to reinforce what was heard.
6. Write down key information throughout the lesson to keep students ‘on the right track’ and to ensure they have access to all key information in case they didn’t catch what was said. Remember to write down all homework and independent working tasks for your students to ensure they understand what, how and when to complete additional activities.
7. Video clips can at times be difficult to hear and understand, especially in the presence of background noise. If using videos in your lessons, add or enable captions. This will help students with hearing loss to access all audio information presented in videos.
8. Frequently check in with any students with hearing loss in your classroom to ensure they have understood the key points of each lesson. Do this by asking open-ended questions e.g., “Tell me what you will do now in your independent working time?”. Questions such as “Do you understand?” are likely to be answered with “Yes” despite the student’s understanding.
9. Encourage students with hearing loss in your classroom to indicate to you if they do not understand, were not able to hear what was said, need help, clarification or further explanation. Agree with the student, the best way for them to gain your attention–whether that is by writing to you in the chat or by raising their hand. If students know how to gain assistance in the online classroom, they are more likely to do so when they need to.
10. Provide classroom learning material in advance to students with hearing loss where possible. Glossaries of key terms are helpful to explain terminology that will be used in the lesson to aid comprehension and participation.
Implementation of these strategies may allow students with hearing loss to work more independently and feel more confident to participate in lessons online.
As well as sharing these tips with your child’s classroom teacher and education team, as a parent or caregiver you can also:
- Talk with your child’s audiologist or clinical specialist about connectivity options to connect your child’s hearing device(s) to their schooling technology (laptop, desktop) to enable easy listening with their device(s).
- Schedule a meeting with your child’s classroom teacher and education team to discuss your child’s individual needs in the online classroom as this may be different to the support which is required in the traditional classroom.
- Personalize and share the ‘All About Me’ handout with your child’s education team to ensure they and any education staff in the classroom have the key information needed to support your child to hand.
Create your own handout with this interactive PDF.
- Hover your mouse over the fields to see hints of what to include. See the ‘All About Sera’ Handout for an example.
- Check with the other members of your child’s team (e.g., Cochlear Implant Programme, Speech therapist) to ensure you have included the necessary information.
- Print one handout and laminate it, so your child’s teacher has a copy that is easy to display in the classroom.
- Send another copy electronically so that the links can be accessed easily.
Read these 9 tips for starting school with a hearing implant in this blog article.
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The content on this website is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor or hearing specialist to learn what type of hearing solution is suitable for your specific needs. Not all products, features, or indications shown are approved in all countries.