Accommodations for Students with Hearing Loss

Adapting the school environment to support the learner with hearing loss

Listening and learning in the classroom can be very challenging for students with hearing loss.


My daughter took the PSAT one year without accommodations, and then the following year with accommodations.  Only a 1% difference in math and reading scores, but 16% change in language section with the additional time and one year more academic growth.
Mom of a successful high schooler with hearing loss.

High stakes tests for higher education entry have their own set of guidelines:
AP –

Exam AccommodationsSuggestions for assessment accommodations are:
a. Writing tests/exams in a quiet room.

b. Provision of more time for the writing of exams.
c. Requesting a live voice (reader) instead of a digitally or computer generated voice or CD-rom/MP3 format.
Live Voice ReaderIt is critical that students with hearing loss NOT be assessed using recorded speech (CD, MP3, etc). The rationale behind this accommodation is that students with hearing loss:
a. Use speech reading to support what they hear.
b. Use intonation/inflections of speech to enhance speech understanding.
c. Require a slower rate of speech which cannot be adjusted on CD.
d. may require repetition to ensure equal access.
Listening Effort and Recorded Speech
The listening effort required of students who are hard of hearing is substantially greater than their peers often resulting in reduced retention, fatigue and attention challenges.  When hard of hearing students have to listen to recorded speech they are at an even greater disadvantage because they lose visual cues, vocal intonation/inflection as well as opportunities for repetition. Additionally,  the way speech is recorded is not optimal for students listening with hearing loss. All of these factors create gaps that need to be “filled in” by the hard of hearing student which in turn increases the required listening effort relative to their peers.  In addition, they need to achieve this through a damaged cochlea. Sound exhausting? It is and your hard of hearing student has to do this while still engaging in the retrieval of information, the processing of complex questioning as well as the stress of test-taking. Listening with a hearing loss while simultaneously listening to recorded speech would present significant challenges to young learners.
Source of Exam Accommodations and paragraph on listening effort is credited to Krista Yuskow.

Accommodations for Students with Hearing Loss

This information is provided as a list of accommodations and classroom modifications for the IEP or 504 Plan team to consider as they discuss what is needed to provide maximal access to the general curriculum and meet the learning needs of the student with hearing loss.

This is not an exhaustive list. Students will vary in terms which of these items are necessary and appropriate to support school progress commensurate with the student’s abilities. Educational settings vary in the extent to which they provide accommodations and modifications to students with hearing loss.

It is important for the IEP or 504 planning team to include a professional with expertise in the educational needs of students with hearing loss so that the unique access and learning needs of the student with hearing loss are understood and can be appropriately accommodated.                         Printable handout of this information

Accommodations to Consider to Address the Access and Learning Needs of Students with Hearing Loss 

Amplification Options:

___Personal hearing device (hearing aid, cochlear implant, tactile device)

___Personal FM system (hearing aid + FM)

___FM system/auditory trainer (without personal hearing aid)

___Walkman-style FM system

___Sound-field FM system

Assistive Devices:


___TV captioned

Communication Accommodations:

___Specialized seating arrangements

___Obtain student’s attention prior to speaking

___Reduce auditory distractions (background noise)

___Reduce visual distractions

___Enhance speech reading conditions (avoid hands in front of face, mustaches well-trimmed, no gum chewing)

___Present information in simple structured, sequential manner

___Clearly enunciate speech

___Allow extra time for processing information

___Repeat or rephrase information when necessary

___Frequently check for understanding

Physical Environment Accommodations:

___Noise reduction (carpet & other sound absorption materials)

___Specialized lighting

___Room design modifications

___Flashing fire alarm

Instructional Accommodations:

___Noise reduction (carpet & other sound absorption materials)

___Use of visual supplements (projected materials, whiteboard, charts, vocabulary lists, lecture outlines)

___Captioning or scripts for announcements, television, videos, or movies

__  Speech-to-text translation captioning (i.e., computer on desk)

_  _Educational interpreter (ASL, signed English, cued speech, oral)

___Buddy system for notes, extra explanations/directions

___Check for understanding of information

___Down time / break from listening

___Extra time to complete assignments

___Step-by-step directions

___Note taker

Curricular Modifications:

___Modify reading assignments (shorten length, adapt or eliminate phonics assignments)

___Modify written assignments (shorten length, adjust evaluation criteria)

___Pre-tutor vocabulary

___Provide supplemental materials to reinforce concepts

___Provide extra practice

___Alternative curriculum

Evaluation Modifications:

___Reduce quantity of tests or test items

___Use alternative tests

___Provide reading assistance with tests

___Allow extra time

Other Considerations:

___Supplemental instruction (speech, language, pragmatic skills, auditory, speech reading


___Sign language instruction

___Transition / Vocational services

___Family support

___Deaf/Hard of Hearing role models

___Recreational/Social opportunities

___Financial assistance

___Monitor progress periodically by a specialist in Deaf/Hard of Hearing


Source: Johnson, Benson, & Seaton. (1997).Educational Audiology Handbook. Appendix 11-A, p.448. Singular publishing Group, Inc.

Minor adaptations by Karen L. Anderson, PhD

Posted August, 2012

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