How Big Are Barriers Of Communication Regarding
Deaf Children And Effective Learning?
By Ronald Kennedy
February 17, 2023
There are two other factors that complicate how children perceive verbal instruction in the classroom.
Those factors are their distance from the teacher and changes in the loudness of the teacher’s voice during the day.
(I understand teachers yell to be heard sometime on a normal bases).
How communication with deaf children are overcome is a challenge in itself. But all things can be accomplished.
Working with children’s issues, along with good eye contact, is always expected among teacher and student. It shows a level of bonding!
Parents and teachers can easily notice that if a child with hearing loss is at some distance, he or she will be less likely to respond to speech, especially if noise is present from a busy fast-food restaurant or other noisy setting.
How barriers of communication are overcome can be achieved within the correct environment.
Teachers typically move throughout the classroom as they teach and provide instructions. This tactic helps young students stay focus to sound.
Therefore, they may be close to the student sometimes and far away at others. Also, teachers change the loudness of their voice throughout the day in response to background noise level, emotional intensity and fatigue to overcome communication barriers.
As a result, the loudness of the teacher’s speech relative to the noise (S/N), is constantly varying even if the child is always seated at the front of the classroom.
Distance of the child’s ear or the teacher’s microphone from the teacher’s lips.
Classroom acoustics can affect teacher voices and student listening. (Another barrier that has to be taken into consideration.)
The constantly varying S/N is the reason why merely seating the child close to the teacher will be inadequate to meet the child’s speech perception needs in a typical classroom setting.
Preferential seating is not enough! The relationship between the S/N and the distance from the teacher is illustrated in the chart.
The level of background (ambient) noise in an occupied classroom can be 60 dB.
If you will remember, the typical vocal loudness of the teacher is also 60 dB sound pressure level (SPL).
Both the loudness of the teacher’s voice and the background noise vary continuously resulting in periods in which the S/N may be relatively favorable (i.e., +10 S/N) to unfavorable (i.e., -6 S/N).
Most classrooms have background noise levels that result in a range of S/N occurring from -6 dB to +10 dB. Changes in S/N vary from moment to moment throughout the day.
Even children seated close to the front row may be 6 to 12 feet from the teacher as he or she moves about the front of the room.
In order for the entire speech signal to be above the background noise, the S/N must be +15 dB (this assumes no benefit from early reflected sound).
Children with hearing loss, because they typically don’t perceive speech as loudly or as completely as people with normal hearing, require a S/N even greater than +15 dB if they’re to truly have equal access to verbal instruction.
The loudness of the teacher’s voice is also an important factor that needs to be taken into account when considering S/N.
Some teachers speak loudly, others have quieter voices. Classrooms with inappropriate levels of background noise require a teacher to raise the loudness of her voice for hours each day.
Total communication, is a ‘key’ factor in all class settings. Reducing background noise in a classroom to an appropriate level is an obvious way to try to achieve a +15 S/N. and one way to overcome a barrier.
For children with hearing loss, the S/N level present in a classroom will be both inconsistent and insufficient to meet the listening needs of the child with hearing loss.
12 Challenges or Barriers When Listening to Learn
- Hearing loss causes a reduced “listening bubble” that is improved by hearing aids or cochlear implants, but normal hearing is not restored.
- Child misses some of the communication naturally occurring in their environment but beyond their “listening bubble.”
- The resulting gaps in language or world knowledge may be minimal to substantial.
- Speech may be perceived with some sounds missing (i.e. high frequency consonants).
- Hearing aids or cochlear implants deliver speech at a quieter loudness than what is typically heard by persons with normal hearing.
- Ability to attend to verbal instruction varies over time with auditory and visual distractions, level of fatigue and interest.
- When the speech puzzle is incomplete and smeared, the high pitch rapid speech of classmates can be incompletely heard and peer relationships may be affected.
- Teacher vocal loudness, distance, and background noise change continuously.
- Acoustic energy of speech decreases the farther away the child is from the teacher.
- Background noise covers up quieter parts of speech.
- Reverberation affects clarity of the perception of speech by smearing sounds, adding noise due to prolonged sound reflections and shortening the critical distance for listening.
- When more effort is needed to perceive speech less energy is available to meaningfully comprehend what has been said and achievement is affected.
As previously described, are the barriers of communication overcome & effective? There are many challenges or barriers to listening that often occur for the child with hearing loss who is listening to learn in a typical classroom.
Learning Can Really Be Fun
Children are amazingly resilient and adaptable. Learning does occur for children with hearing loss.
Their special needs are met, especially when the educational system accommodates the child’s difficulties.
This is noticed in regard to perceiving verbal communication in the classroom. We can address barriers to learning.
Teachers can become aware of the effects of the day-to-day challenges to each child’s ability to learn in a typical educational environment.
By demonstrating an unconditional belief in your youngster, you lay the foundation for an “I can do!” attitude (confidence), enthusiasm and motivation for personal growth.
You offer encouragement by words, actions, and feelings.
Your kid might need a hug after falling off a swing and some prodding to get back on.
Or perhaps he or she might need you to be lovingly firm through all the tears before his or her dance class (which, of course, they’d enjoy once there).
Positive re-framing requires that you, as a provider, point out the silver lining to every cloud regarding the hearing impaired.
When a negative or potentially negative situation occurs, you re-define (re-frame) it in such a way that makes the youngster hopeful and motivated towards healthy outcomes.
For example, “You tried so hard to help daddy by carrying a big, full shopping bag. Next time we’ll have you carry a smaller one and maybe we can avoid having the bag rip.”
Encouragement and positive re-framing are especially useful in promoting a youngster’s capacity for self-appraisal.
How Do Parents Use Encouragement And Positive Re-framing?
Those two closely related techniques are often used together. You use them whenever you accurately paint a positive picture of your kid’s efforts and abilities.
Just know what are signs of hearing loss in children, because if not known, you’ll not be able to properly teach and communicate.
With practice, you can identify and underscore positive elements for the young individual in any situation, no matter how bleak it appears.
Choose comments and questions that held your youngsters assess and praise himself, such as, “Aren’t you proud of yourself for studying for your test.”
Make encouraging comments, such as, “You sure did make the dishes sparkle!”
Re-frame discouraging situations; for example, “Yes, you got a D, but it is an honest D – you studied, you really tried and you didn’t cheat. I am proud of you.”
Boosting your kid’s self-confidence helps him have faith in his ability to confront everyday challenges and to create positive outcomes.
Some find it hard to directly accept encouraging comments but can benefit from overhearing/over “seeing” your praise. For example, when Emily is present ask a third party, “Did you know that Emily swam the length of the pool today?”
Another helpful method for interrupting undesirable behaviors and extricating your kid from negative situations is to review positive moments, “I remember when you…”
In this way, you help your youngster remember past successes, renewing his or her faith in their own ability as well as the bright side of life.
Mutual Respect And Empathy
Mutual respect builds your kid’s self-esteem and sensitivity to others. Empathy, the ability to understand another’s point of view, is a necessary skill for building healthy relationships.
Parents can best teach their child about mutual respect and empathy. This is done by demonstrating respect and understanding for him or her, for their feelings, thoughts, and experience.
Though this sounds simple, accepting a hearing impaired individual fully means accepting the child’s deafness. If parents are shocked, saddened, confused or angry about their kid’s condition, then the parents should seek help to cope with these feelings.
In addition, the hearing family must learn to accommodate the hearing impaired toddler’s communication needs, which does not happen overnight.
Therefore, a parent might have gaps in understanding how his youngster thinks and feels about things.This doesn’t indicate the absence of mutual respect, it indicates a communication problem that will require more patience and time to resolve.
The results are worth the investment of time and patience.
Families that base their relationships on mutual respect and empathy have an easier time living together, cooperating, and learning from one another.
How Do Parents Build Respect And Have Empathy
You convey respect (or lack of it) for your deaf child by many of your daily actions.
You fail to respect your youngster when you talk down to him or her; purposely embarrass them; laugh at their efforts; exclude them from family communication; or look through their private belongings without asking permission.
You convey respect by soliciting and listening to your youngster’s opinion, by allowing him or her the latitude to negotiate his communication needs.
You demonstrate your respect for them through myriad of subtle actions.
But not rushing to your deaf youngster’s rescue when he or she is trying to solve a math problem, repair a broken toy, or construct a Lego skyscraper, you show respect for (and confidence in) his independent efforts and accomplishments.
Parents and caregivers should show empathy (understanding), not sympathy (pity), for challenges and obstacles that come their way due to his or her hearing loss.
Humor And Affection
Find ways to laugh, love, and in short, enjoy your hearing impaired child. All the parental worrying, drudgeries, schedules, and heartaches should be balanced by laughter, affection, excitement, and joy.
There are no rules that say parents must always be serious. Allow your child to rekindle your playfulness – tickle, giggle, joke, go sledding, hug, love, and be downright goofy whenever you get the chance.
Love, humor, and affection can go a long way in regard to raising a child with hearing loss.
How parents can use humor and affection?
Love, cherish, and accept your child simply because he is himself or herself. Your child needs to know that even when he or she misbehaves you still love them.
This gives them the message that you may not love some of their behaviors, but you will always love them.
This enables your child to take risks, practice problem-solving skills, and examine his behavior, without worrying whether their efforts will affect your show of affection.
Physical and emotional affection are key components of parenting. Verbal and nonverbal expressions of your feelings show your child that your support and love are everlasting.
Such actions as saying “I love you,” hugging, kissing, or affectionately playing with your child’s hair (especially when he or she is not expecting it) tell them just how special and important he is to you.
Never overlook the value of humor. Like playful playing, laughter, joking, and daily silliness greatly restore perspective.
When parents defuse tension by seeing the lighter side of a problem, children feel less threatened and take more risks in examining their difficulties.
NEVER make a joke out of your hearing impaired child – it is not funny to be ‘sacrificed’ for the sake of a good laugh.
Addressing Challenges in the Learning Environment
All professionals who have the responsibility to educate children with hearing loss should recognize that hearing impaired kids have challenges in the learning environment that are barriers to their equal access to instruction and academic success.
As has been mentioned, all children in the classroom have the challenge of listening in order to comprehend information presented verbally while in the presence of inappropriate levels of background noise or reverberation.
Listening is a primary gateway to learning and although we cannot expect the millions of classrooms across the country to provide ideal acoustic conditions, we can acknowledge that inadequate classroom acoustics provide a clearly identifiable learning barrier.
Educational environments that have inadequate acoustic conditions can cause irreparable erosion of achievement for children with hearing loss by preventing them from optimally accessing verbal instruction.
The ability to achieve in the classroom is related directly to the ability to access verbal instruction. It’s so important that children communicating and interacting with their instructor, is an ongoing task.
Therefore, Classroom acoustics is a vital consideration when determining the need for accommodations and specialized instruction that a student with hearing loss will need for success.
CONFERENCE OF EDUCATIONAL ADMINISTRATORS SERVING THE DEAF (C.E.A.S.D)
A nonprofit organization committed to improved management in programs for deaf students and educational options for deaf people.
The dream of Edward Miner Gallaudet, then president of the Columbia Institute for the Deaf and Dumb ( now GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY), was to unite school principals behind his philosophy of communication in the classroom.
Today, the group tries to promote a continuation of educational opportunities for deaf people in North America and to encourage efficient management of schools and programs for deaf people.