Teaching a child with Hearing Loss

Did you know that 1 in 5 Americans have hearing loss great enough to make communication difficult?  Most people with hearing loss are younger than 65.  In fact, 7.4% of people age 29-40 have hearing loss.  A few years ago I lost my hearing in my left ear.  I was diagnosed with sudden sensorineural hearing loss.  One minute I was fine – I could hear everything.  The next minute something popped and my hearing was gone.  It bothered me but I did not think much of it.  I thought it would return.  Little did I know that when I went to a hearing doctor that I would get the news that I would never hear again in the my left ear.  Coincidentally, my husband also has hearing loss.  He has had hearing loss since birth.  Anyway, I could write all day about my experience with hearing loss (and I am happy to answer any questions -just email me!), but today I write for 2 reasons.  First to talk to you a little bit about hearing aid insurance and secondly to talk to you about teaching a child with hearing loss.

7 tips to help teach a child with hearing loss

First, hearing aid insurance:  Did you know the cost of a hearing aid can range from $1,500 to $5,000? What if you suddenly had hearing loss?  How would you cover this cost?  Unfortunately, most health insurance plans DO NOT cover the cost of hearing aids. You might have vision insurance, dental insurance… but what about hearing insurance?  Fortunately my husband’s work offers EPIC hearing insurance. We purchase this insurance to help cover the cost of our hearing aids.  If hearing health is NOT a covered benefit for you… you can take a stand and request a change. EPIC has created an advocacy flyer that anyone can just share to start a conversation with their HR professional. Download it at: https://www.epichearing.com/listenhear/resources/   

Teaching a child with Hearing Loss

Many people do not realize what it sounds like to have hearing loss.  Everyone’s hearing loss is different and I really can only speak for myself but, for me, I like to say that in my left ear it sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Wah wah wah wah wah wah..  Words are not clear.  I have 25% clarity so -if you said 100 words to me in my left ear, I would be able repeat correctly 25 words.  Fortunately right now I can hear from my right ear.  My right ear works hard to make up for the left.  I found this neat hearing loss simulator on you tube…(This song actually makes me cry).

For teaching a child with hearing loss, here is my advice…

  1.  Understand hearing loss.  Watch the video above or look for other hearing loss simulations.  There are actually apps out there where you can plug in the person’s hearing loss chart and it plays sounds so you can hear the difference of how a person hears.  Understand and know that hearing loss drastically impacts a person’s life.
  2. Understand what the person can and cannot hear.  I cannot hear high frequency sounds.  The lower frequency sounds are not clear.  A game of “telephone” would be pretty frustrating (and funny?!) if you play with me.  Listening is exhausting.  Imagine you are trying to constantly translate muffled sounds… it is frustrating and exhausting.
  3. Put the student near the front of the room and try to put them away from background noise as much as possible.  When you are only trying to hear with one ear, or with two bad ears, or whatever, any extra noise is an impediment.  You could ask the student to pick out his/her own seat and then ask him why he chose that way.  I always try to sit so that my good ear is facing toward the conversation.
  4. Try to keep in sight of the student so that they can read your lips.
  5. Make up hand signals if you can.  Hand signals can be a discrete way of communicating without other students knowing you are really helping a particular student.
  6. Repeat things frequently.  Maybe have a hand signal for repeat – the student can flash a thumbs up sign if he did not hear or understand what you said.
  7. See if you could wear an FM transmitter or microphone during class. My children’s teachers wear microphones around their neck.  This is so nice!  I love to go to parent night because I actually can hear!

Anyway, remember to check and see if you have hearing insurance.  If not, advocate to at least have it offered so that those with hearing loss can have more options in getting a hearing aid.  #ListenHear #CoverYourEars #GenerationDeaf

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Madreen Karle is a master first grade reading teacher with over 30 years of classroom experience. She taught reading in a special needs and English as a Second Language classroom. After retiring she wrote a reading program to help others learn how to teach reading. She is a trusted educator and author of 5 books to help teach children to read and write. In addition to her books, she is a mentor for 3 websites that give reading teacher tips (Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound ReadingMrs. Karle’s Reading Patch, and Mrs. Karle’s Handwriting Patch). Through her teaching she learned that confidence was the key to learning to read. A child who is not confident at reading does not like to read and struggles to read. Mrs. Karle created “sunshine moments” to help teach children how to grow their confidence and learn to read.
Meeghan Karle Mousaw (Madreen’s daughter) has her Master’s in Special Education. She has 8 years experience teaching children to read online. In addition, she developed a curriculum to teach children handwriting called The Handwriting Patch. With the Handwriting Patch learning is fun because children learn to draw and learn handwriting at the same time. In 2019 The Handwriting Patch curriculum became an amazon best seller the first year it was released, helping thousands of kids learn handwriting with a unique, fun method. She is mom to 6 kids, each with differently learning abilities and struggles.
The Reading Patch was established by the creators of Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading. Together they have been featured on the NBC media outlets and Parents Magazine online. Over the last 8 years in their online platform, Madreen and Meeghan have worked tirelessly with teachers, homeschoolers and parents looking to help children learn to read to become a trusted authority in teaching children to read and advocating early literacy skills. They often partner with other educational experts to deliver the most current information to the Reading Patch community.


  1. I never thought about hearing loss insurance. I am going to check our insurance to see if we have it and what it would cost to add. Thank you!

  2. My son had so many ear infections when he was little that he suffered hearing loss so I really can relate to this post. Thank you so much for bringing this subject up n

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