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How my hearing loss accommodations have evolved over time

hearing loss accommodations

Once I was mainstreamed out of Desert Voices, a private school for oral deaf education, I started to realize that the type of advocacy required from myself was different. I had to pay closer attention to my hearing loss accommodations.

Accommodations

At Desert Voices, a lot of accommodations are a given; there’s not much you need to ask for. But going into a public school, I realized that this wasn’t the case.

“I needed to ask for the accommodations I needed, even for the ones I didn’t realize I needed at the time.”

Some accommodations that I have used include:

  • Sitting in the front of the classroom – Sitting in the front of the classroom can help students to better focus on the teacher and hear what s/he is saying. This also gives people who lipread better access.
  • Using an FM System – Allows students to better hear the teachers while minimizing some of the extra sound from the environment. Depending on the age of the student and the FM system being used, this can also help to better hear the group when breaking into smaller groups for discussions, projects, etc.
  • Closed Captions – Having captions on videos and movies can help to follow along and better understand the content of the video. A student may be able to hear and understand the voice behind the video, but may not be comprehending the information. Likewise, if it’s an animated video and one relies on lipreading and facial cues, that element is taken away but closed captions help supplement.
  • Print out notes – When classes are more lecture based with the students taking notes, this multitasking can become challenging. From personal experience, it’s hard for me to do both at once – listen and take notes. When I am taking notes, I am so focused on remembering what the teacher has said that I’m missing the lecture while writing. Being provided with notes helps to focus on one thing at a time while still getting all the necessary information. 
  • Restating questions asked by students – Having the teacher restate questions and comments asked by students can be extremely helpful. Oftentimes, peer comments and questions can result in class discussion being changed or guided into a different topic. Not understanding this change in discussion or not knowing what the discussion has moved onto can prove to be challenging.  

These accommodations were discovered, added, and used at different times. There are so many other ones that can be used to fit specific needs.

Changes

Once I got to middle school, things started getting difficult and then even more so in high school. I had all the accommodations and was using them, but it wasn’t working out. The accommodations that once benefited were no longer helping. My middle school classes became more group and class discussion based rather than lectures from the teachers. Because of this, sitting in the front of the classroom was no longer helpful since I couldn’t see all the students. As a result, I couldn’t identify where in the class they were and couldn’t follow along with all the class comments. Sitting in the front of the classroom was necessary in those earlier years for me, but as I got older and my classes changed, the front of the classroom became the last spot I would choose to sit.

Likewise, using an FM system that was just worn by the teacher and only picked up his/her voice was no longer beneficial. I could only hear the teacher and couldn’t hear the students and their comments/answers to questions. Not being able to follow along with the whole class made it much harder to follow along and learn. This is why I started using the Roger Select instead of a traditional teacher worn FM system.

It’s important to realize that the accommodations you use one year may not be used the next. And the accommodations that work for me may not be the best for you. These accommodations are meant to be tailored to your needs and your specific situations. 

Fighting for Accommodations

I’ve had to fight for some accommodations over the years. The explanation can sometimes be the hardest. For example, around 5th grade, I discovered closed captions at home while watching a movie. I wasn’t asking my family questions and I walked away without missing a detail. This is how we realized I needed captions in school. But when I said I needed captions, the school asked me to identify what I was missing in the videos. How could I tell the school what I was missing when I didn’t know what I was missing?

Read more: Teens with hearing loss: How to be an advocate for your education

Sometimes you just have to keep persevering to get the accommodations you need. In the end, know that it is necessary because you are your own best advocate. You know what you need better than anyone else!

What accommodations have you used?

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Emmy is a Phonak Teen Advisory Board member and wears an Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant and Phonak CROS.
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Emmy is a Phonak Teen Advisory Board member and wears an Advanced Bionics Cochlear Implant and Phonak CROS.