Educating the Hearing Impaired
By Ajani Brown
Definition: A person with a hearing impairment is considered to be deaf
if the sense of hearing is nonfunctional for the ordinary purposes of life,
or hard of hearing, when the sense is defective but functional, with or
without a hearing aid.
Types of Impairment:
Sensorineural – The result of damage to the delicate sensory hair cells or
the nerves of the inner ear. Occurs due to an inherited fault in a
chromosome, birth injury or damage to the developing fetus or subjection
to loud noise for prolonged periods. In some cases the use of a hearing aid
will not be beneficial.
Conductive – Hearing loss that usually affects all frequencies of hearing but
generally does not result in severe loss of hearing. This can be caused by
disease or blockage in the hearing canal. This type can be helped medically,
surgically or by use of a hearing aid.
Mixed – This type would be a combination of Sensorineural and
Degrees of Impairment:
We must first take into consideration dB (decibel) levels. The larger the
number, the louder the sound it represents.
Example: Soft whisper at 18 feet is 18dB. Compared to the sound of jet taking
off 200 feet away, 108dB.
24-40 dB = Mild
41-55 dB = Moderate
56-70 dB = Moderately Severe
71-90 dB = Severe
91 + dB = Profound
Characteristics of Impairment:
Mild – A person might have normal speech patterns and their impairment may go
undetected. They may have difficulty hearing speech at a distance.
Moderate – If no hearing aid is used a student may miss much of what is said.
Conversations must occur within 3 to 5 feet.
Moderately Severe – Hears very little speech and speech development may be
Severe – Most ordinary environment sounds are not heard, but a person may sense
loud noises and voices. Their speech is meaningless, even though vocalization may
Public Law 94-142
The Education of All Handicapped Children
Act of 1975
The act mandates free and appropriate public education for all
handicapped children. The act stipulates safeguards to protect
the rights of handicapped children and their parents.
Additionally, the act called for nondiscriminatory testing,
Individual Education Plans and the least restrictive environment
appropriate to the needs of the child.
School Placement Options
Residential Schools – Students live and learn on campus, while some
Day Schools – Commute only school. Located mostly in large
Day Classes – Classes provided for the hearing impaired located at non
specialized public schools with children who have normal hearing.
Resource Rooms – Schools provide a room for the children to spend
part of their day in individualized instruction.
Itinerant Programs – Students receive services from an itinerant
teacher who works with several students from different schools.
Methods of Communication in the Learning Process
Oralism: The means of communicating by way of speech and speech
Manualism: Stresses the use of sign language usage in the classroom and
among the hearing impaired.
Total Communication: The theory of communication that embraces the
concepts of Oralism and Manualism into a single all inclusive procedure.
Parents and their Children:
Integration into a “normal” school setting is the goal for both parents and
educational administrators, however, placement in an appropriate setting
is what is needed to insure proper growth and development. Common
assumptions of integration include:
•Learning in a normal environment will help a deaf child’s
•Loss of a primary receptive sense will be substituted by vision, in a
setting with oral/aural interaction.
•A teacher without understanding of deafness can overcome the
Katz, Lee (1974). The Deaf Child in the Public Schools. Danville, Ill. The
Interstate Printers and Publishers, Inc.
Nix, Gary (1976). Mainstream Education for Hearing Impaired Children
and Youth. New York, NY. Grune and Stratton, Inc.
Moores, Donald (1987). Educating the Deaf: Psychology, Principles and
Edition. Boston, MA. Houghton Mifflin Company.
Nielsen, Lee (2002). Brief Reference of Student Disabilities…With
Strategies for the Classroom. Thousand Oaks, California. Corwin Press, Inc.