Hearing impairment

Information, resources and links to support children and young people with hearing impairment.

If staff suspect a child or young person has an undiagnosed hearing impairment the first response should be to discuss this with parent carers. Advise them to seek medical advice from their GP. Educational settings should not attempt to assess hearing impairments themselves.

Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe or profound and can be temporary or permanent. It can affect one or both ears.

Most children with permanent hearing loss are identified shortly after birth. Others may have a loss that is not diagnosed until they are at school.

Sensitive support for the families, from specialist staff, at an early stage is crucial. It is therefore important that the Sensory Support Team is informed of any newly diagnosed children. It is also important to ensure information sharing between parent carers and settings.

Indicators of possible ‘hearing impairment’:

  • The child or young person may mishear words or instructions.
  • Fluctuations in attention, may struggle concentrating.
  • Difficulty in understanding peers in group discussions or in noisier environments.
  • The child or young person may have delayed language.

Provision and/or strategies for classroom practice:

  • Ensure staff work together with other professionals such as the Sensory Support Team.
  • Use appropriate seating and visual materials – see individual learning plan for requirements.
  • Ensure instructions are delivered clearly and at an appropriate volume.
  • Check the lesson content has been effectively communicated and understood -this is important when delivering new information/instructions and includes issuing homework and using unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • Ensure that the child or young person has heard comments by peers in group activities – this may be done by repeating / rephrasing.
  • Be aware that the child or young person may use lip-reading and visual clues to support their hearing – ensure that they are face on when you are giving instructions and try not to move around the room whilst talking.
  • Be aware of progress in developing communication skills – this would include eye contact, body language and facial expressions.
  • Use visual reinforcement (pictures and handouts), to support learning.
  • Consider using visual timetables and visual cues such as sand timers, to support sharing.
  • Be aware that during P.E. or games lessons it will be more difficult to follow instructions.
  • Consider that words spoken on an audio/visual recording may need a person to repeat what is being said, provide written copy and/or use subtitles.
  • Consider the environment such as carpeting, soft furnishing, rubber feet on the table and chair legs will reduce noise.
  • Seat away from any source of noise. For example, window, corridor, fan heater, projector, the centre of the classroom.
  • Encourage good listening behaviour: sitting still, looking and listening.
  • Encourage the child or young person to ask when not sure what to do.
  • Establish a quiet working environment, particularly for specific listening work.
  • Ensure all staff who work with a child or young person with hearing impairment (HI) should be made aware how best to support in school.
  • Arrange for adults working directly with child or young person with HI to have appropriate training i.e. British Sign Language (BSL).
  • Work together with other professionals to share strategies and advice to support the child or young person.