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Research & Resources

Classroom Management of Students With Hearing Impairment

Ralph G. Leverett, Ph.D., University Professor of Special Education, Hendersonville

September 1, 2002 - The following is a summary of a five-hour workshop presented in August of 2002:

Hearing loss is often confused with behavior disorders, mental retardation, autism, attention deficit disorder, or some learning disabilities.

Students who have difficulty understanding classroom instruction often tune out, look distracted, seem unmotivated, or appear to be “problem students.”

Ideal programs for students with hearing loss require team management which includes educational audiologists and speech-language pathologists.

Special Education classrooms are not Deaf Education classrooms. Deaf Educators have separate certification and training. A classroom for students with learning disabilities or mild-moderate disabilities does not provide the necessary environment for students with hearing loss.

Deaf Educators focus on the development of basic language skills (through sign, speech, or both) which have developed already for most students in Special Education settings.

Classrooms should incorporate auditory training and language skills integrated into every aspect of the school experience. Individual speech therapy should be provided to students whose abilities suggest that they can develop speech as a primary form of communication or as a supplement to manual communication.

Children with hearing loss often hear, but do not understand speech well enough to do well academically or socially. Teachers must distinguish between hearing and listening.

Students may understand familiar information with relative ease. Most listening in the classroom involves new information.

Success in the classroom involves the effective management of student language (general and specialized vocabulary skills), teacher language (ability to detect when students misunderstand and the use of rephrasing and/or paraphrasing to increase comprehension), and textual language (the formal language of academic materials).

Listening skills for children who have normal hearing are almost “automatic”. For children with hearing loss, they are almost always acquired deliberately.

Students with hearing loss often feign understanding. They do not want to admit their difficulty.

The best amplification device must be monitored to be of optimal use. No form of amplification compensates for poor language skills.

This workshop was presented by Carrie Crittendon and Jeannie Seneker, both of whom are audiologists and Kris Wolfe and Ralph Leverett who are speech-language pathologists.

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