Mainstream News: Spring Resources Series

Mainstream News Thumb

Welcome to a special edition of Mainstream News sponsored by Oticon. In an effort to provide relevant, regular content to parents and professionals working from home and conducting remote classes, we have created a Mainstream News Spring Resources Series covering tips on hearing tech care at home, distance learning, self-care for educators and leveraging local/national organizations online.

In addition to sharing these resources on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #MainstreamResources, we have posted them here as well.


We gratefully acknowledge Oticon Pediatrics
for its sponsorship.



Online Resources for Parents

Social distancing and school closures have forced parents to figure out new ways to educate and entertain their children. With myriad free online resources, and new ones being added every day, we’re highlighting some high quality at-home learning opportunities and resources.

A Global Experience at Home

May 15, 2020

Have you checked out the Google Arts and Culture page? Visitors will find an interesting mix of art, science, history and travel that can provide the whole family with unique ways to learn and explore from home. This helps students build cultural understanding, develop global awareness, understand historical timelines and so much more. Take a tour of the Eiffel Tower; enjoy a 360-degree journey through the Orion Nebula or follow a penguin through the Smithsonian!

Learn from the Experts at NASA

May 13, 2020

NASA Space Place is dedicated to helping students explore all things related to space and earth science. The site offers a variety of activities that are geared towards students 10 and older, but younger children can also engage with the site with some parental guidance. Space Place offers a wide range of resources from short, captioned videos like "What is a Black Hole?" or "How Does GPS Work," simple crafts and printables, to activities where students can learn to build a bubble-powered rocket, or illustrate the moon's phases using cookies. While a great deal of information is presented, each lesson or activity is offered in bite-sized chunks with opportunities to explore further if the student is interested. The site is also available in Spanish at: spaceplace.nasa.gov/sp/.

Libraries of Read-Aloud Stories

May 11, 2020

Reading is of course an important way to develop language, learn new vocabulary and boost literacy, but we understand parents may be eager to add some variety to regular at-home reading sessions. Today in our #MainstreamResources series, we’re sharing two collections of online stories: HarperKids and Storyline Online.

HarperKids provides a large selection of videos for both younger and older students. For younger students, there are picture book readings -- some are read by the author and look like a traditional story time with questions and answers, while others are animated videos of the book. For older students, there are book talks that discuss the plots of chapter books and can get students excited about trying new genres. Author Neil Gaiman even makes an appearance to read aloud from one of his classic books for older readers, The Graveyard Book. All the videos are captioned.

Storyline Online is run by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation and has a library of books read by actors. Each video description highlights the suggested grade level, actor who reads the book and length, so caregivers can make the best decisions for the intended audience. Some favorites include Harry the Dirty Dog read by Betty White and A Bad Case of Stripes read by Sean Astin. All the videos are captioned.

Lessons in Doodles and Storytelling with Mo Willems

May 8, 2020

A truly entertaining resource for children (and parents too) is Lunch Doodles with Mo. Mo Willems is the author and illustrator of numerous award-winning children’s stories, including Knuffle Bunny, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and the Elephant & Piggie series. His Lunch Doodles series, sponsored by The Kennedy Center, is a mixture of story time and art lessons all rolled into one. In addition to demonstrating simple drawing techniques, Mo talks about his imagination and how he develops a story. While many of Mo Willems’s books are geared towards a younger audience, these 15 lessons are still a great way for children of all ages to interact with stories and drawing. For example, older children can write their own stories starring Mo’s easy-to-draw characters.

Educational Support Online

May 6, 2020

For parents looking for educational content and homework help for children in mainstream settings, we recommend BrainPOP, BrainPOPJr., Khan Academy and TED-Ed.

  • BrainPOP offers engaging animated videos on a variety of subjects (science, social studies, English, math, science and technology). In each video Tim and his robot, Moby, answer a child’s question about a particular topic and explore it in a way that is easy for children to understand. The site is geared towards older students (grades 4-12), but for younger students (kindergarten-grade 3) check out BrainPOPJr. Best of all the website is offering free access to families during school closures. Videos are captioned.
  • Khan Academy is a nonprofit online learning platform that has been used mainly for extra homework help. During school closures, they are also providing daily schedules for children and students, ages 2-18 years old. They offer support and learning resources from the earliest math concepts to advanced placement courses for high school students. Videos are captioned.
  • TED-Ed is a website that features a collection of educational video lessons on numerous subjects. The site is run by the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) media organization, whose TED talks are known for highlighting the world’s brightest minds. TED-Ed is where students can find some of that same inspiration. Videos are searchable by subject, age, and length of video. Each video has options to select THINK (answer questions based on content), DIG DEEPER (access additional information), and DISCUSS (participate in online discussions about content) after student viewing. Videos are captioned.

Self-Care for Educators

As school communities adapt to a new reality, it is more important than ever for educators to maintain, or add, to their self-care routines. Educators are strong role models for their students, who watch and listen to how their teachers respond. When teachers take care of themselves, they show students how they can take care of themselves too.

Staying Connected

May 4, 2020

Social distancing does not mean giving up social connections -- you might just need to get creative. Consider planning a virtual coffee break or lunch hour with colleagues or other educators, where you share strategies that are or aren’t working. Or just talk about what you’re cooking or watching to experience a much-needed sense of community. Find different ways to connect with your students by having everyone post funny images of their pets. Start a virtual book club with your friends. Social support is vital for your mental health.

Keeping Track of Success

May 1, 2020

Today marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week and Better Hearing and Speech Month! So, educators: Celebrate your successes. At the end of each week, grab a sticky note and write down one thing you felt went well, progress you witnessed a student make and something that made you laugh. Stick it on Monday’s lesson plan. Every few weeks, flip through your plan book to see all your successes.

Controlling Scrolling...

April 29, 2020

It can be tempting to frequently check the news, whether it’s the cable or social media channels that you’re tuned into. Establish a routine of checking the news once or twice a day, at set times, so you can stay informed without being consumed by the 24-hour news cycle. Keep the television off. It’s also helpful to disable notifications on your phone and computer, and limit the time you scroll through Facebook or Instagram by installing time limit apps on your phone. For instance, you can allot yourself 30 minutes a day for social media use on your phone, and you’ll get a gentle reminder when that time has passed.

Taking Daily Breaks

April 27, 2020

Everyone needs to take a break, especially educators! And with children, family members, and so many other responsibilities at home, finding time for yourself while you’re also managing a classroom may feel impossible. But taking even a small break is proven to help; research shows that prolonged work is depleting, resulting in negative mood shifts and decreased cognitive ability. Setting aside 15 minutes to reflect and check in with yourself can help you gain perspective and create some much-needed space. Make this time work for you -- step outside and feel the sun on your face. Walk around the block. Focus on your breathing. A meditation app like Insight Timer offers free mindfulness tools, as well as short guided meditations the user can filter by length.

Setting Daily Intentions

April 24, 2020

Plan to address the issues you can control and let go of the ones you cannot. Think about what you want to accomplish each day in different areas of your life: work, family, self, physical activity. Set an intention in each area. Keep things realistic. Create a routine that includes getting up at a regular time, getting ready and dressed for the day, a work schedule, some way to move your body and some breaks to connect with others.

Best Practices in Tele-Education for Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

For this portion of the Mainstream News Spring Resources Series, we’re sharing best practices for mainstream educators teaching children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Ensure Equal Access with Captions

April 22, 2020

The ability to have Zoom calls or Facetime meetings with students is a great advantage to keep up with classroom discussions and the presentation of new materials. But it’s important to take the needs of your students who are deaf or hard of hearing into consideration and make sure all visual media is captioned. Recording video conferences and then taking the time to add captions, and using live-captioning software can help students fully access materials.

Michael Marchetti, MED, itinerant teacher of the deaf at Clarke who has a hearing loss, shares some recommendations—all of which he has tried. “I test everything with my implants off as if I was a student with complete hearing loss,” says Michael.

For real-time streaming transcripts, Michael suggests:

For captioning recorded video, Michael suggests:

And for phone calls, he recommends the Phonak myCall-to-Text app, for iPhones and Androids, which allows users to read transcribed text of what a caller is saying, in real time. Michael notes, “This would be a great tool for the students to have if a voice call is the only option. I would recommend showing it to the students regardless, in case they ever want to/need to make phone calls. I was happily surprised at how well it worked and honestly wish I had this as a kid!”

Are You Getting Your Message Across During Video Lessons?

April 20, 2020

Presenting new material only over video makes it possible for your students to miss some of the key points. Confirming understanding, taking a little extra time and providing information in different formats, such as slide shows or downloadable notes, will help ensure multiple layers of learning.

  • If possible, reach out to your student’s teacher of the deaf prior to a video class or recording, to provide them with the materials your student will need. Teachers of the deaf can often “pre-teach” the material with a student so they’re more prepared for a video lesson.
  • Repeat important concepts.
  • Require more than a yes/no answer.
  • Give students time to process the information heard.
  • Include visual aids, like picture charts, slides, maps and video (as long as it’s captioned!)
Recommend Using Accommodations at Home (When Possible)

April 17, 2020

Students who have Hearing Assistive Technology (HAT) such as FM or the Rogers pen, will benefit from having those same accommodations at home, if possible. Students will also need to have video access to itinerant teachers of the deaf and log-ins to any specific learning apps they use in a classroom setting.

Managing your Online Classroom

April 15, 2020

Whether you’re recording a video lecture, or offering your students a live-streamed class, there are some filming best practices to take into consideration.

  • Don’t assume your students will be familiar with the technology. Hold a tutorial session so they can test different tools, like the chat feature. Then you can encourage use of this feature if a student is having trouble hearing or has missed something.
  • Remind your students that they can connect their hearing technology directly to their computer or tablet using a direct audio input.
  • Explain some simple etiquette guidelines for video conferencing. Most students have never been in video conference situations before – it’s helpful to suggest they show up as they would for school. Some teachers recommend students change out of pajamas, double-check what’s around them and will appear on camera, sit at a desk or table if they can and silence/put away their phones.
  • Make sure your face, and especially your mouth, is in clear view and not in shadow. For example, sitting in front of a window, or anywhere with light behind you when filming can make it difficult for the speaker’s face to be seen.
  • Be sure to only speak while you’re facing the camera and don’t cover your mouth with your hand or with papers.
  • Find a quiet spot in your house with very little background noise so your voice can be heard clearly.
  • Instruct students to use the handraise feature or have them identify themselves by raising their hand when they’d like to ask a question or make a comment.
  • Clearly signal changes in topic.
  • Put directions/assignments in emails or on slides.
  • After a few days with the new format, check in by email with the student to ensure that they are comfortable and have good auditory access.
  • Include captions!
Be Clear About Expectations

April 13, 2020

During this time, it is more important than ever to have clear communication between parents, students, staff and administrators. Make sure parents and students understand your expectations for class assignments, due dates and what work is involved. Many parents are also juggling working from home and adapting to the new environment so making sure that they understand what’s expected timewise is helpful, particularly when it comes to the needs of the youngest students.

Taking Care of Hearing Technology at Home

Do You Have the Supplies and Accessories You Need?

April 10, 2020

Check that you have extra supplies. Do you have access to extra batteries—whether you use disposables or rechargeables—as well as a charger? Do you have a portable dehumidifier? If you live somewhere that gets hot and humid, you should have some way to take the moisture out of the hearing aid. If you’re low on your supplies, Dr. Christine Kelley, AuD, audiologist at the Clarke Hearing Center in Northampton, MA, says you can get in touch with your local audiologist, many of whom are still offering remote and pick-up services. You can also buy or order many products online from a pharmacy, big box store or supermarket.

Listening Checks

April 8, 2020

Today’s Mainstream News Spring Resource comes from Dr. Christine Kelley, AuD, audiologist at the Clarke Hearing Center in Northampton, MA.

Be sure to continue conducting listening checks. Regularly check your child’s hearing aids or cochlear implant to make sure it's functioning properly. A listening check can be performed on hearing aids and on-ear cochlear implant processors: With on-ear implant processors, there's a special headphone that plugs into the processor so you can hear whether it’s working, and you can use a listening tube with a hearing aid to conduct the listening check. Dr. Kelley also notes that ear wax can clog the sound bore of ear molds on hearing aids, thus blocking sound. “If you don’t already have one, you can get a wax loop to clean out the ear mold,” she says. Most pediatric hearing aids are provided with earmold cleaning products at the fitting, including wax loops, earmold blowers and earmold cleaning solution. These can also be ordered online, or picked up from your local audiologist if they’re offering pick-up services.

5 Tips from Oticon

April 6, 2020

Hearing aid care and maintenance is very important to ensure that your hearing aids remain clean, functional and decrease the potential for repairs.

Here are five tips for cleaning and maintaining your hearing aids in the home:

  • Wear gloves when cleaning hearing aids.
  • If you have behind-the-ear hearing aids, clean the hearing aid surface with wet wipes that don’t contain alcohol. This is because they are coated with hydrophobic coating that is sensitive to alcohol.
  • An alternative to wet wipes is cleaning with mild soap solution on a hard-twisted cotton cloth. Avoid using excess water that can enter the hearing aids.
  • After cleaning, discard the gloves and wash your hands carefully with soap and water or disinfect with a suitable alcohol disinfectant.
  • Leave the cleaned hearing aids to dry for one hour.