Resources For Hearing-Impaired Educators and Students If/When Everyone is Wearing a Mask in the Fall

Emoji faces with face masks

It’s clear by now that many schools will be open in the fall in some capacity, whether it’s in A/B blocks or shorter days to accommodate smaller class sizes. Another popular model being discussed is a hybrid classroom with simultaneous in-person and online instruction for students who remain at home. Based on the CDC’s guidelines, social distancing and masks will be recommended, whether it’s in higher education, elementary, or high school settings, and school districts are slowly rolling out guidelines for educators. For those of us in higher education, there’s much we can learn from school districts in how they plan to handle educational offerings for hearing-impaired students as we look to the fall. It’s especially enlightening to look at the resources these schools rely on to guide their decision-making process.

But before we get to the resources, it’s important to talk about the emotional health of hearing-impaired people as we plan for the fall. Already there’s research that shows masks and social distancing are causing an increase in stress levels and worries about isolation for hearing-impaired people. Add that to anxiety about whether we should be at work or school at all, and our first foray into our regular lives already looks scary and stressful. For me personally, a bad virus, regardless of whether it’s COVD-19, could further damage what hearing ability I have remaining. It’s scary to step out into the unknown.

If you are looking for guidance in higher ed as to how to provide services and educational offerings to hearing-impaired people, take a look at the following sources:

The Los Angeles County Office of Education released a planning framework on May 27, and included these links to help teachers assist their hearing-impaired students:

In April, Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction provided guidance in its document Supporting Inclusionary Practices During School Facility Closure. It included links to these resources to help educators provide services to their hearing-impaired students:

North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction provided a resource page for teachers working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Education uses a flowchart to find the best mode of education for children with disabilities.

For a more comprehensive list of resources, consult the Center on Reinventing Public Education site, which has compiled a list of state responses and school district responses to COVID-19 school closures and special education resources and guidelines.

In England, the National Deaf Children’s Society recently published an article on The Impact of Face Masks on Deaf Children.

And finally, check out this article on 10 Tips for Managing Face Masks and Hearing Loss.

Law librarian. Hearing impaired. Find me on Twitter @maricheney

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