Attending College with Damaged Hearing
College days are one of the most memorable days of a person’s life. We make new friends and take away memories that remain with us forever. We learn interesting subjects and navigate our way through our classes and projects while learning skills that we will use all throughout our lives. All of this can become a challenge for someone with hearing loss.
Imagine attending a class where you are unable to hear what your instructor is saying. Imagine sitting at the dining table with your friends who are laughing at a joke that you could not hear. College days will never return, and neither does lost hearing, but you can always take steps to make the most out of your college experience even if you have hearing loss.
You may be somewhat reluctant to share your hearing disability with your school, but it is always a better idea to get your school on board. Notify them of your unique hearing needs and talk to your instructors about how they can help make their lessons more compatible with your hearing needs. Most instructors are more than happy to accommodate visual references along with verbal ones so that both visual and auditory learners can learn efficiently.
Before you sign up, take some time out to talk to the instructor of your chosen class. Start off with an introductory email to help gauge whether the instructor would be willing and able to accommodate your hearing needs. You can also ask them to allow you to be seated at a particular spot to help you read lips better. Inform them of the devices you will be using during the class ahead of time.
Every school has facilities that are available for those with special needs, so get in touch with the school administration services to explore the available resources that you will have at your disposal in order to enhance your educational experience. Some colleges provide live action captioning while others may also provide you with written transcripts of the class lecture. ASL interpretation may also be available and some professors may be willing to provide written class notes ahead of time to help you stay on track with your classes.
When in class, make sure you position yourself to get the maximum benefit of every class. Sit at a spot that is away from noisy areas such as air vents or open doors. By sitting closer to a wall you will be able to better determine the source of the speech sounds coming from the classroom, which can help you focus on your professor’s voice.
Talk to other students and your advisor about the format of the classes that you are taking. If you find that a class is mostly lecture-based, sit at the front where you can clearly see your professor so that you can lip read and hear them better. Other classes may focus on projects, group discussions, and seminars. These can be trickier since there are multiple speakers, so sit at a spot at the center of the table (rather than a far end) surrounding all the speakers so that you can hear what everyone is saying around you. Group discussions mostly occur in a format where the students can see every other speaker clearly, such as sitting in a circle or a rectangle. This will help you get a better view of all the speakers at once, which can aid in understanding what is being said.
Talk to your professor and members of your class in case you plan on using any assistive listening device during the class. This will help your fellow classmates and professor understand how they can help you get the most out of the class.
College days are truly memorable for everyone, and hearing loss need not dampen your spirit. Simply take some time out to prepare ahead of time and take proactive steps to maximize your learning experience. This way you will be able to make the most out of your college experience and look back fondly on your memories in the years to come.