Devices to assist students.
Devices to Assist Students with Hearing Impairments
The hearing aid is a miniature public address system worn by
the user (listener). It works best in quiet, structured settings, where the
speaker is no more than a few feet away and extraneous noise is minimized.
Hearing aids are generally available in four styles: body-worn, behind-the-
ear, eyeglass, and in-the-ear. School-age children most often use postauricu-
lar hearing aids, which are designed to fit unobtrusively behind the ear.
Almost all people with hearing loss, including “nerve loss,” can benefit to
some extent from hearing aids.
Frequency-Modulated (FM) Amplification Systems:
Also known as an auditory
trainer, the FM transmission device creates a direct link between the
teacher, who wears a microphone, and the student, who wears a hearing
aid. In this system, background noise is reduced and the teacher and stu-
dents are free to move around the room. For more than 40 years, FM sys-
tems have been used by teachers and students in the classroom, and they
are still one of the most commonly used auditory enhancement devices in
schools because of their versatility and portability for use in or out of the
The audio loop is another type of amplification system. It was
introduced in an attempt to meet the need to control the sound level of the
teacher’s voice, to maintain consistency in auditory cues between home
and school, to deal more effectively with background noise, and to provide
maximum mobility within a classroom. An adaptation of the FM device
described above, the audio loop directs sound from its source directly to
the listener’s ear through a specially equipped hearing aid. Sound may be
transmitted through a wire connection or by using radio waves. Audio
loops can be built into the walls of a room or created to surround only a
certain section of seats in a room.
Infrared systems transmit clean, clear sound invisibly to
hearing impaired listeners. They provide better hearing in public places
without the hassle of wires and cords, and they suffer less from interference
emanating from pagers and other outside radio signals, but they may have
limited accessibility because of issues related to line-of-site or distance
between the emitter and the transceiver. Nevertheless, as costs come down,
the popularity of infrared systems is increasing.
A cochlear implant is a relatively new device designed to
provide sound information for people with profound hearing impairments.
While hearing aids and other assistive devices are designed to amplify
sound, an implant can actually enable the wearer to hear sounds that were
previously indistinguishable. The implant, which is surgically placed
beneath the skin, bypasses the damaged parts of the inner ear and stimu-
lates nerves that have not been stimulated before. Signals are sent contin-
uously when sound is present in the environment, but special circuitry in
the speech processor reduces unwanted background noise.
Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDDs):
The TDD, which enables a
person with no hearing to make or receive telephone calls, is the most
widely known telecommunication device used today. The TDD is attached
to a telephone and resembles a small keyboard with a screen to display the
incoming or outgoing messages. Some TDDs have a paper printout to
record a permanent copy of the conversation. To use a TDD, the user types
a message on the keyboard that is automatically converted into tones and
transmitted over the phone line to another TDD, which converts the mes-
sage back into text form. In this system, both the sender and the receiver
of the message must have access to the technology. Although these tech-
nologies are not typically used in the classroom environment, they enable
students with disabilities to interact with each other outside of the school
environment for both academic and social reasons, just as their nondisabled
Captioning refers to the addition of text to a visual dis-
play, where the words that are spoken are seen as text. The early form of
captioning was seen primarily as subtitles for translating foreign films.
There are two kinds of captions, open and closed. Open captioning is
seldom used, because it cannot be turned off and is consequently unpopu-
lar with the general public. Conversely, closed captioning is very common
and it can be turned on or off by the user on all modern televisions. Since
1993, all television manufacturers have been required to place built-in
decoders in their products to provide individuals with hearing impairments
with access to closed captioned television programs and videos for educa-
tional and recreational purposes. Given that consumers purchase more
than 20 million televisions each year, the majority of classrooms and private
homes in this country have access to this technology.
Live Speech Captioning:
Live speech captioning is another variation of this
technology that allows individuals with hearing impairments to access
words as they are being spoken. This technology works much like steno key-
boards that are used to record judicial proceedings. When captioning is
used in educational settings, a stenographer typically enters information as
the teacher talks and the text is displayed on a computer monitor. This
technology has proven to be very helpful for students with hearing disabil-
ities who are enrolled in college courses or who attend public lectures.