Learning and the Hearing Impaired

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Learning and the Hearing Impaired

Students who are hearing impaired should be provided with special needs in a way that addresses the student's individual differences and needs. Advances in research on effective instructional practices can provide guidance for general education teachers and special education teachers who have little or no training in methods for students with hearing loss. Students who are typically classified as deaf or hard of hearing are described as individuals with hearing loss.  Hearing loss can range from mild to profound.  The current regulations implementing IDEA define deafness as a hearing impairment that is so severe that the student is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing (with or without amplification ) and the student's educational performance is adversely affected (Turnball, Turnball, Wehmeyer, 2010).  Compared to students with disabilities, students with hearing loss are among the smallest group. There are different characteristics of hearing loss that affect the learning in children that are hearing impaired. The most severely affected areas of development in the person with a hearing loss are the comprehension and production of the English language. Most children with hearing loss have extreme difficulty in academic achievement. One form or hearing loss is a slight loss of hearing. In quiet environments, a child has no difficulty recognizing speech, but in noisy environments, faint speech is hard to recognize. Some children may have a mild form of hearing loss. The characteristics of children that have mild form classroom discussions are challenging to follow. In a quiet setting in which the topic is known and the vocabulary is limited, the student has no difficulty in communicating. Faint or distant speech is difficult to hear even if the room is quiet. The next level of hearing loss is moderate. The student can hear conversational speech only at a close distance. In classroom discussions or group activities it is a challenge to hear what is being said. Moderate-severe is the next level of hearing loss in a child or individual. Students can hear only loud, clear conversational speech and has much difficulty in group situations. At this time speech is noticeably impaired though understandable. Children with severe hearing loss cannot hear conversational speech unless it is loud and even then, cannot recognize many words. Background sounds can be detected, though not always identified and their speech is not understandable. The most devastating type of hear loss is profound. The student may hear loud sounds but cannot hear conversational speech at all. Vision is the primary source of communication. If their speech has developed at all it is not easy to understand.

Hearing impaired children are born with an innate ability and desired to communicate and their language delays will range from mild to severe according to the level of their hearing loss. Professionals commonly use one of three approaches to teach communication skills to students with hearing loss-oral/aural, manual, or total communication (Turnball, Turnball, Wehmeyer, 2010).  Oral/aural communication promotes the use of the hearing aid or cochlear implant which emphasizes sound amplification. Manual communication or the use of sign language is also used to help children communicate. Sign language is the combination use of hand, body and facial movements to express both words and concepts. Another form of sign language is fingerspelling. The ASL or American Sign Language is the most commonly used sign language used today. Cued Speech is a visual communication system which uses eight handshapes in four locations ("cues") in combination with the natural mouth movements of speech to make all the sounds of spoken language look different. The shapes of the hand identity consonant sounds and the locations near the mouth identify vowel sounds. A hand shape and a...
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