Hearing impairment is a broad term that refers to hearing losses of varying degrees from hard-of-hearing to total deafness. Most students with hearing impairments use a variety of communication methods. The most frequently used method is a combination of speech reading (lipreading) and residual hearing, which is often amplified by hearing aids. Many students with hearing impairments can and do speak. Some deaf students cannot monitor or automatically control the tone and volume of their speech, so their speech may be initially difficult to understand. Understanding improves as one becomes more familiar with the deaf student's speech pattern.
The hearing-impaired students at Ball State who communicate manually usually use American Sign Language (ASL). Faculty should be aware that American Sign Language is not the exact equivalent of the English language. Rather, it is a concept-based shorthand method of communication; its syntax is quite different from English. As a result, many deaf students have not mastered the grammatical subtleties of English, which is their second language. Students who have manual communication skills will usually have an interpreter with them in the classroom to help them understand what is being said. Because class formats are so varied, it is recommended that the faculty member, interpreter, and student arrange a conference early in the semester to discuss any special arrangements that may be needed. The interpreter and hearing-impaired student usually sit in the front of the classroom and most hearing-impaired students use notetakers in class because it is difficult to follow an interpreter or to speechread and take notes at the same time. Some students with hearing impairments may also use test accommodations, such as extra time. A professor can use the Learning Center professional staff and facilities to administer tests. Discuss testing arrangements with the LC staff early in the semester to assure that the process will be smooth when it is actually time to schedule and administer tests.
Assumptions should not automatically be made about a hearing-impaired student's ability to participate in certain types of classes. Hearing-impaired students may be able to learn much about music styles, techniques, and rhythms by observing a visual display of the music on an oscilloscope or similar apparatus or by feeling the vibrations of music. Some hearing-impaired students will have enough residual hearing so that amplification through hearing aids, earphones, public address systems, or personal FM transmitter/receiver units will allow participation. It is always best to discuss with the student the requirements of a class and to determine if there are ways that the materials can be modified so that the student can participate in what may become an exciting learning experience for all concerned.
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Suggested Classroom Accommodations
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