A hearing loss ranges from mild (hard of hearing) to profound (deaf). Specialists (audiologist, speech and language pathologist) can assist Early Childhood Educators in understanding the degree to which development of communication skills will be affected by the child’s hearing impairment. Parents should be consulted to determine how much hearing capacity the child does have and which teaching methods and communication system is best suited for the child. Early developmental milestones will be similar to those of the hearing child. The impact of a hearing impairment is most obvious in language development. Actual cognitive ability is hindered only to the extent that performance depends on language comprehension and use.
- Seat the child up close for good visibility of teacher, activity, or other children.
- Experiment to find out or ask parents how close a speaker must be in order for the child to hear.
- Provide the child with experiences that make residual hearing (auditory acuity of a child after an impairment without amplification).
- Speak at normal speed and volume without exaggerating lip movements.
- Avoid speaking with your back to the child or with a bright light behind you. Don’t inadvertently cover your mouth when speaking. Lipstick may enhance visibility.
- Use normal vocabulary and sentence structure. Be prepared to repeat, rephrase, point out, or demonstrate if the child does not understand.
- When seeking the child’s attention, be certain to use his or her name. Teach the child to attend to your face and do not give any directions until the child is obviously attending.
- When teaching the child, use visual and tactile aids. Model the desired behaviour whenever possible.