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.
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Try to keep in sight of the student so that they can read your lips.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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