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A Silver Lining

You’re so lucky you’re deaf. You can just
turn everyone off
.” My head whipped up just in time to notice the look of dismay
briefly cross my seventh-grade student’s face. He recovered quickly, smiled
hesitantly, and muttered, “Yeahas
he muted the DynaMic. He needed to
concentrate on his independent work in the noisier than usual classroom where
students were completing a variety of assignments before the end of the term.


It
wasn’t the first time I’d heard a comment like this or seen such a reaction.
Technology is such an integrated part of our world and everyday experiences
that well-intentioned peers (and adults) may overlook that fact that using this
technology is a necessity rather than a perk for our students with hearing
loss. The majority of students that we work with are in mainstream classrooms
with typically hearing peers. This was an innocent comment referring to how the
student with hearing loss can mute his microphone and work in quiet whereas the
typically hearing student can’t block out the noise in the classroom in the
same way. What the hearing student didn’t realize was the effect his comment of
being lucky could have on his peer with hearing loss. He has an acceptance of his
hearing loss, but this boy would not describe himself as “lucky.” Even though PowerPoint
presentations related to hearing loss, inviting peers to join individual
sessions, and ongoing advocacy work with our students can all help raise
awareness of hearing loss in the mainstream classroom, others still forget. We
work so hard on teaching our students to speak up and advocate but there are
still days they decide to let it go or get annoyed, and that’s part of being a
regular kid. It’s unrealistic to expect
our students to advocate in every single opportunity.

Helping
students think of a response they can use when someone makes a similar comment
to them can be helpful. As a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing, I continue to
learn the best way to respond, too. After a science teacher that I work with
reported overhearing a similar comment in her classroom, the parent of the
child with hearing loss responded to the group email by describing how she
spoke with her child about the difference between being “lucky” and in seeing
the silver lining. While it may not always feel “lucky” to have hearing loss,
there are those silver linings –  in this
case, the mute button.

Hear Me Out

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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About the Hear Me Out Blog

Itinerant teachers of the deaf (TOD) provide direct services to children with hearing loss in mainstream schools, consultation to their teachers, and professional development to school staff. Itinerant TODs travel to a child’s neighborhood school to provide one-on-one educational support, foster listening and spoken language development, and help children build social and self-advocacy skills. They also act as a liaison between the family and their mainstream school. Hear Me Out provides a unique forum for these special teachers to share their experiences as they grow as professionals.

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

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Hear Me Out Blog

About the Author

Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A) received her master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College in 2006 and a graduate certificate in Children, Families, and Schools (with a concentration in research methodology) from the University of Massachusetts in 2012. In addition to her many years of experience working with children with hearing loss who communicate using listening and spoken language, Heather has also worked as a preschool classroom teacher.

Heather has presented both locally and nationally on issues related to mainstreaming students with hearing loss and is a contributing author to Odyssey magazine. Heather currently works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

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