Hearing Impaired (HI)

Pupils with hearing impairments range from those who have mild hearing impairment to those who are profoundly deaf. Hearing difficulties can be permanent or temporary.

Temporary losses are usually caused by the condition known as ‘glue ear’. This occurs mostly in early years. These hearing losses may be mild or moderate.

Permanent losses are generally sensori-neural and vary from mild to moderate, through to severe or profound. These pupils may have severe or profound communication difficulties resulting in language acquisition being affected.

Children who require hearing aids, adaptations to their environment and/or specific teaching strategies (e.g. British Sign Language) to access the language and concepts of the curriculum are regarded as having a hearing impairment.

Severe/Profound Hearing Loss
These pupils will have a hearing loss of 71 to 95+ decibels.

Mild/Moderate Loss
These pupils will have a hearing loss of 20 to 70 decibels.

Indicators

  • Does not respond when called.
  • A delay in learning to speak.
  • A lack of clarity in speech, slurring of words, incorrect pronunciation.
  • Unstressed words in speech (especially prepositions e.g. ‘in’, ‘on’, ‘up’) may be misinterpreted.
  • Watches faces/lips intently.
  • Reluctant to speak freely, e.g. a nod or shake of the head rather than saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Displays of inappropriate behaviour or temper tantrums.
  • Verb tenses may be incorrect.
  • Any difficulty in listening and attending to speech.
  • Constantly asking for repetition — ‘pardon?’, ‘what?’, ‘eh?’
  • Failure to follow instructions straight away or misunderstands/ignores instructions.
  • Requires repeated explanations.
  • Watches what the others are doing before doing it themselves.
  • Continues with an activity when the rest of the class has stopped.
  • Doesn’t pick up information from overheard conversations.
  • Attempts to control and dominate conversation through talking.
  • Becomes withdrawn.
  • Makes little or no contribution to group or classroom discussions.
  • Shouts, or talks, overly loudly.
  • Speaks very softly.
  • Complains of not being able to hear.
  • Frequently seeks assistance from peers.
  • Low results in reading and oral subjects, but may have good results elsewhere.

General Strategies

  • Seat child near the front of the class and away from sources of noise e.g. outside traffic, noisy heaters, hum of Overhead Projector.
  • Make sure that you have the pupil’s attention before starting to talk, otherwise they may not have got the first part of the conversation or instructions.
  • Face the pupil when you are talking.
  • Try not to do any of these things:
    • cover your face with your hands or objects;
    • walk around the room;
    • standing with your back to a window as this creates a shadow.
  • Use whole sentences and not single words – if a child does not understand a word, use a different word with the same meaning.
  • Do not talk at the same time as writing on the black/whiteboard
  • Speak clearly, naturally and at a normal rate, shouting can distort lip patterns and also give the impression from facial expression that you are angry with the pupil.
  • Allow pupils time to read or look at visual aids and/or instructions before talking.
  • Encourage all children to say when they do not understand something as very often a HI child will nod and smile when in fact they do not understand.
  • When planning a lesson it is vital that time is taken to brief support staff on subject matter, including the key points or new concepts to be covered, as well as the vocabulary to be used.
  • Try not to presume that a pupil who is HI has certain general knowledge, check their understanding first.
  • Encourage the other pupils to speak one at a time and to raise their hands before speaking so that the HI pupil knows who is talking.
  • It is helpful to repeat what other pupils say, especially those who are sitting at a distance from the pupil who is HI.

Profoundly Deaf - Strategies

  • Make sure that you have their attention before starting to talk; otherwise they may not have got the first part of the conversation or instructions.
  • Speak clearly, naturally and at a normal rate – bear in mind that if you shout, this will distort lip patterns and can also give the impression from your facial expression that you are angry with them.
  • Face them when you are talking to them and allow some space between you and the child for signing or lip reading purposes, ideally keep a distance of between one and two metres.
  • Remember that lip reading involves a lot of guesswork because different words often have similar lip patterns.
  • Try not to cover your face with your hands or objects or walk around while you are speaking, as again it will make it difficult for a child to read facial expressions or lip read.
  • Avoid having your back to a window as this creates a shadow and makes it difficult for a deaf child to read facial expressions or lip read.

Partially Hearing - Strategies

  • Use whole sentences and not single words – if a child does not understand a word, use a different word with the same meaning.
  • Do not talk at the same time as writing on the black/white board.
  • Allow pupils time to read or look at visual aids and/or instructions before talking.
  • Encourage all children to say when they do not understand something as very often a partially hearing child will nod and smile when in fact they do not understand.
  • When planning a lesson it is vital that time is taken to brief support staff on subject matter, including the key points or new concepts to be covered, as well as the vocabulary to be used.
  • Bear in mind that some deaf children may not have complete auditory access to what is happening around them.

National Deaf Children’s Society

Action on Hearing Loss (new name for RNID)

Northern Ireland Deaf Youth Association

Deaf Friendly School Guide

Northern Ireland Deaf News

DeafHear

UK Deaf Sport

Disability Sport NI