College, helpul tips for students with hearing loss and their self-advocacy.
The month of August is here, which can only mean one thing – it’s almost time to go back to college and begin a brand-new semester! Whether you are an incoming freshman or a seasoned upperclassman, it can sometimes be difficult to navigate college when you have a hearing loss. Here are some tips for starting the semester off strong as a deaf or hard of hearing college student.
Understand how your hearing loss affects you:
Have at least a general understanding of your hearing loss in order to be able to advocate for yourself effectively – if you don’t understand your own hearing loss, how will you be able to explain your needs to others? Your audiologist or hearing care professional can help you to learn more about your specific hearing loss, and they can help you to determine what kinds of hearing assistive technology and accommodations may benefit you.
Use your university’s resources:
Almost every college or university has an office that is dedicated to supporting students who have disabilities by providing the accommodations that students need in order to have equal access in the classroom. At many, each student who is registered with the Disability Support Services office is assigned an advisor who helps them to figure out what accommodations would best fit their needs and assists with notifying the student’s professors about the accommodations the student is eligible for within their classes.
Some of the accommodations you may use in your classes include priority registration, note taking services, the use of an FM system, CART (which stands for Communication Access Real-Time Translation), closed captioning on all videos that are shown during class and priority seating in the classroom. There are many other accommodations that you may choose to use, depending on your specific needs, such as an ASL interpreter, an oral transliterator, or C-Print, to name a few.
Get to know your professors:
Although your college or university’s Disability Support Services office may inform your professors that you are deaf or hard of hearing, it is necessary for you to meet with each of your professors and discuss what accommodations you may need in their class at the beginning of the semester, ideally during the first week of classes. There are many different ways that you can do this; for instance, some people like to schedule an appointment with each of their professors to meet together during their office hours, while others prefer to send an e-mail to their professors and explain what accommodations they need in writing.
If you use several different accommodations in your classes, including an FM system and CART, one might create a little brochure or fact sheet that contains a brief explanation of your hearing loss, some tips on how to communicate with you effectively and an overview of how your FM system and CART works as well as a picture of each piece of equipment that you will be using during class. This works well because you can either e-mail the brochure to your professors prior to the first day of class or can print it out and give it to them before the first class begins. Your professors can refer back to the information in my brochure as needed throughout the semester.
Choose your seat wisely:
Make sure you arrive early enough on the first day of class so you can choose a seat that provides the best possible listening environment. IF for example you rely on lipreading to fill in the gaps of what you can’t hear, almost always choose to sit in the front of the room so that you can see the professor well. Try your best to avoid sitting near the classroom door or the windows because the noise from the hallway or outside the classroom can be distracting and can make it even more difficult to hear. Likewise, refrain from sitting near any noisy blower fans or heating/cooling units because the background noise completely drowns out the professor’s voice and makes it nearly impossible to hear or understand what is being said.
Explain your hearing loss to your classmates:
You may be the only deaf or hard of hearing student in your classes, and in many cases, you may be the first young adult with a hearing loss that your classmates have ever met. Some peers who have never had a class with a person with hearing loss before may feel a bit nervous about interacting with you because they don’t know how to communicate with a person with hearing loss.
Take the time to explain a little bit about your hearing loss, it helps others feel more comfortable and understanding as to how to communicate with you more effectively.
Choose a few people who you are most likely to spend time with during class and talk to them about your hearing loss and what you need in order to communicate. For example, you could choose to briefly explain your hearing loss to the people who sit beside you during class, the people who are a part of your small group discussion or the members of your group project assignment. It can be very simple and brief; perhaps simply start by saying something like “Hey, I’m hard of hearing, which means I don’t hear very well. I need you to look at me when you talk so that I can read your lips. I also need you to wear this little microphone; it connects directly to my hearing aids and helps me to hear you better”.
Hopefully, if you are a new or returning college student this article has been of assistance to you, however if you simply know someone who is a student returning to school please think about sharing this article with them.
Also, whether you’re going back to campus this fall or if college is but a distant memory, you can seek hearing care and treatment from a dedicated hearing care professional like A Atlantic Hearing… Where hearing exams, have always been free. 🙂
Source: Jessica Wertz
Image credit: Jessica Wertz
(Article, altered from first person, for universal usage).
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