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Kindergarten Teacher who is Hard of Hearing

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Situation

Lucy, age 27, has a progressive hearing loss in her left ear and a sensor neural profound loss in her right ear as a result of meningitis at age three. She is able to hear at about 60dB in an office setting with her left ear, using a behind the ear hearing aid. She has noticed it is getting increasingly difficult for her to understand what students and co-workers are saying in noisy environments. Since normal speech falls in the decibel range of 30-50 dB, the first problem Lucy noticed was not hearing voices at a high pitch or octave level, which is typical in young children. She has trouble speaking with a student's parents on the office phone and tries to delay such calls until she gets home, where she has a volume control adaptive device. Faculty meetings are also difficult for Lucy, but she had been reluctant to seek help or ask for any adaptive devices.

Lucy and Deb Marguiles, a Vocational Counselor with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Program, agreed a combination of AT and non-AT adaptations would be most effective in allowing her to continue to perform the essential functions of her teaching position. She was referred to an audiologist to evaluate her current hearing aid and to a mental health practitioner who specializes in counseling hard of hearing clients, to help Lucy accept her progressive hearing loss and become more proactive in taking steps to improve her ability to communicate.


Accommodation

1.An alphanumeric pager, which allows Lucy to receive brief text messages from parents or co-workers without delay.

2.An in-line amplifier for the office phone.

3.An Assistive Listening Device (ALD) . Specifically an induction loop device was selected for use in both faculty meetings and in small classroom groups. An FM wireless microphone carries sound from the transmitter to the receiver. The device is easily transported and connects to the public address system.

4.A Personal Amplification System can be used both in work and personal settings for one- on-one communication and home media use.


Lucy has already made many non-AT adaptations in her teaching style and methods. For example, she leads small reading groups of only three or four children. Students have learned not to whisper and that speaking in a strong, clear voice yields the best response from their teacher, with fewer requests to repeat their comments or questions. Children are assigned "buddies" on the playground, so a playmate can contact Lucy in case of conflict or emergency, if the child isn't within clear view.


Accommodation List / Sources

•The Communicator, a pager with a four-line display for $89.95. Pagers can be found at retail electronic stores and through wireless communication companies.

•Ameriphone Dialogue XL30, an advanced amplified phone for $109.95. Visit www.accessolutions.com

•Microloop II-FM System, a loop ADL system with wireless Lavalier VHF Microphone for $549.00. Visit www.ovalwindowaudio.com

•Sound Wizard, a personal amplifier for $549.00. Visit www.hitec.com


Acknowledgements

This case study was originally documented by Tech Connections, a NIDRR-funded collaboration between United Cerebral Palsy Associations (UCP), the Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access at Georgia Tech (CATEA), and the Southeast Disability Business Technical Assistance Center (SE DBTAC).


[1] http://www.workrerc.gatech.edu