The upper secondary education after basic comprehensive school is a transition time in many senses. The school and the surrounding people may change entirely, there is more to study than before, and some might already be moving to their own apartment in another town. Another change is the change of rehabilitation counselor when moving from the children’s rehabilitation to adult rehabilitation services. With age the personal responsibility for hearing-related matters also increases.
When younger, the adults have usually taken the responsibility of informing teachers and schoolmates about hearing loss related matters. In a new environment the situation might arise for the first time where the student has to find a way of telling others about his or her hearing that feels natural. It is important that the student is active in expressing his or her needs and wishes, but they should not be only his or her responsibility.
Particularly for teachers inexperienced with this matter, it might be a good idea to arrange an information session with a rehabilitation counselor present. It might also be worthwhile to write down things you wish the teacher to remember in the future.
Accommodations and assistive devices for support
The accommodations that make learning easier for the hearing-impaired student who is integrated to the general class benefit also those with normal hearing. When teaching it is important to remember to face the students so the mouth movements can be seen rather than facing the board or the computer screen. The room acoustics can be improved and it is a good idea to display the discussed matters also visually. For teamwork, a quiet space should be made available where the participants can take turns talking while facing the others.
Even though hearing impairment does not preclude the possibility of linguistic talent, studying foreign languages can often be a challenge. Studying those and other subjects can be made easier through accommodations. These may consist of seating arrangements optimized for hearing, reading the script to an auditory task while listening to the recording, modifications to response times in hearing tests or exemptions from them.
In upper secondary school the study environment may change constantly and it might be impossible to make all the environments optimal for listening. An FM-device and other assistive devices can then be particularly useful.
Motivation is crucial
According to a report (Lavikainen) success at studies for hard of hearing students can vary. Some do well, while some can drop out of their studies several times. One of the most salient results from the questionnaire done on hard of hearing adolescents is the tiredness after the day at school, which partly derives from the constant strain caused by listening or being interpreted to. For students with sign language, the teacher’s good sign language skills are critical.
Support from family and friends, satisfaction at school and prevention of bullying have a great impact for study motivation and consequently also for study success. Social relationships can easily result in misunderstandings about personality or other issues if the other students are not aware of the hearing loss. Also the teachers’ attitude to how the hearing-related matters are taken into account and the teaching methods have a crucial impact on how the student copes. In problematic situations the student can consult the school health services, study advisor, school psychologist or the Hearing Centre.
Studying in upper secondary school, vocational school or in an apprenticeship is very different, so they require specific ways of taking hearing into account
• Inclusion. A Strategy to Promote Success for Secondary School Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. Judith M. Emerson. Raising and Educating Deaf Children. Foundations for Policy, Practise and Outcomes. 1.7.2015.
• Mitä on nuoren kuntoutusohjaus? Heli Kujanpää. Julkaisussa Hyvärinen, H.; Alexandersson, A; Lehto E & Parkas, R. (toim.). Satakieliseminaari 2014.
• Huonokuuloisten ja kuurojen nuorten toisen asteen opinnoissa kohtaamat haasteet ja tuki opintojen aikana. Anniina Lavikainen. Kuuloliitto 2014.
• Apua – Kuulovammainen oppilas luokassani! Susanne Snellman & Thomas Lindberg. Oy Studio Lindberg Ab 2007.
• Matkalla aikuisuuteen. Tukea mutkissa ja karikoissa. Erja Välisalo-Leinonen. Julkaisussa Hyvärinen, H.; Alexandersson, A; Lehto E & Parkas, R. (toim.). Satakieliseminaari 2014.