hearing loss classroom observation

Classroom observation is critical

The school year is well on the way. How do we know that our children with hearing loss are getting what they need in school? Only one way – someone needs to go in and observe. If we do not observe we really do not know if they are hearing well in the classroom, if they can follow conversation, are they communicating with peers, what their social concerns are.


What should be observed?


Does the child participate in class activities? Does she participate at the same rate as peers? Can the child follow directions? Does the child seem to hesitate or jump right in? Does the child use necessary accommodations? Are the students comments relative? Does the teacher communicate with the student and does the student communicate with the teacher?  Does the child seem to understand or is understanding difficult?




Is the child using personal technology? Is the teacher using a remote microphone and if yes, is it being used appropriately? Is someone checking if personal and remote technology is being used is working well? Especially for young children, is someone checking equipment daily to be sure that the child is hearing well?


Communication with peers


During classroom discussion, does the child hear peer discussion in the classroom? Outside of specific classroom discussion does the child have social discussion with others? Is the child having social discussion at lunch or on the playground or is the child sitting alone?

Sherry Landrud and Karen Anderson have developed a checklist for observation (Observation Record of Behavior of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students) that is available on Karen’s website www.successforchildrenwithhearingloss.


Who should be doing observations?


Observations should be made by an educational audiologist, teacher of the deaf, listening and spoken language specialist, or a speech-language pathologist with special training working with children with hearing loss.


What do we do with the information?


If a child cannot follow what is happening in the classroom what are we doing to be sure the child is learning? Is there a teacher of the deaf who can help the child get the vocabulary necessary to learn in the classroom (preview and review of vocabulary and concepts)? If not, we need to find one. We need to find a way to help the teacher recognize what the child is missing so she can be proactive.

If we do not identify the problems we cannot solve them.


What to do


Be certain that there is someone who is doing an observation and that the information will be used to help determine programming for children. Observation should be performed in the first few weeks of school and then periodically.

If there are concerns about a child’s performance, then observation should be scheduled every few months. Just do it. It is critical.

About Jane Madell

Jane Madell has a consulting practice in pediatric audiology. She is an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, and LSLS auditory verbal therapist, with a BA from Emerson College and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Her 45+ years experience ranges from Deaf Nursery programs to positions at the League for the Hard of Hearing (Director), Long Island College Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Beth Israel Medical Center/New York Eye and Ear Infirmary as director of the Hearing and Learning Center and Cochlear Implant Center. Jane has taught at the University of Tennessee, Columbia University, Downstate Medical School, and Albert Einstein Medical School, published 7 books, and written numerous books chapters and journal articles, and is a well known international lecturer.

1 Comment

  1. Very good point. For the last two years we have observed regularly in classrooms as part of a research project (IHEAR) and we also find a huge need for these observations. In a lot of classrooms today they use student microphones (1 microphone between every two students) they work really Well and the student with a hearing loss is allowed to learn from the other students and their pragmatics. Best Jane

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