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The Power of “Owning” Hearing Loss


     “Ugh! I HATE science! I give up!” my seventh grader grumbled, pulling her science book out of her backpack then laying her head in her hands, eyes closed. I opened the book to the unit her teacher had told me the class would be starting so that we could preview the material and concepts. He’d given me the page number, but not the topics. My student perked up as she watched me open to the designated page. “Hey! It’s about hearing!” She scanned the diagram of the ear, softly naming the parts, a smile beginning on her face, until she came to the bones. “Wait- hammer? Anvil? Stirrup? It’s the malleus, incus, and stapes! I should teach this lesson!” 

    When students have a concrete understanding of how hearing works, their own hearing loss and cause, and assistive technology, it’s empowering. There’s no longer a mystery as to why it’s sometimes hard to follow in class and they can advocate for their needs regarding access. The ability to independently answer questions posed by peers about the technology creates a sense of normality around the differences. Students who are able to have a sense of humor around their differences rather than constantly feeling uncomfortable are more accepted by peers. 

     Recently, a junior high student asked for help creating a presentation that she could share with her classmates. A strong advocate, she wanted to share information, particularly around the proper use of her pass-around mic to the whole group at once. It was her idea to personify the microphone as “Mikee” and do the presentation from his perspective. Her sense of humor around the equipment was well received by the group with peers laughing with her and asking relevant questions. The results have been fantastic- she reports fewer reminders to use the microphone during discussions and I’ve observed her classmates reminding each other! 

     And as for my seventh grader? Not only did she talk to her science teacher about a more in-depth lesson on hearing, after creating an in-service for her teachers, she supported two of my younger students in the school when presenting to their class, emphasizing for me to, “Teach them the real names for the parts!”  Alongside the two second graders, she served as a role model, expanding on what they shared with the class, comparing cochlear implants and hearing aids, and helping them to answer questions posed by the other children. This group has now reached celebrity status in the elementary school, featured as “Scientists of the Week,” further empowering all three! 

One of the second graders shyly slipped me this note as I was leaving. I agree! I think hearing aids are so awesome, too!

Hear Me Out

The Hear Me Out blog provides unique resources for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's a forum for itinerant teachers of the deaf to share their experiences as they grow as professionals! It is produced by Clarke's Mainstream Services team 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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