Many are already receiving acceptance letters to their desired colleges and universities. If you can relate, then a congratulation is in order! Applying to college can be a daunting task in itself, however, it’s a long road of focus and study once school finally begins next fall. If you have a hearing loss this upcoming acceptance can be filled with as much anxiety as it is for celebration. It’s important to remember, that with a little bit of planning and extra communication you can have the same advantages in your learning experience as anyone with normal hearing.
Hearing Loss and Educational Support
It is important to be open and forward around your hearing loss. The advantages of disclosure around your loss can be the difference between success in your new school or confusion and frustration. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and generations of advocacy around disability issues in educational settings, colleges and universities have many resources in place to support hearing-impaired students. It’s important to discover and take advantage of these resources. They are there specifically to support you.
Reach Out to Your Instructors
You don’t have to disclose your hearing loss to your classmates if you don’t want to but you must let your instructors know about your disability. This will enable them to offer accommodations that can help you learn. Just after you register for your classes, take the time to reach out to your instructors via email. This is a great time to introduce yourself, disclose your hearing issues, and offer examples of ways they can accommodate you best. If you aren’t completely sure what could help best, there is no cause for concern. Chances are, you are not the first student most of your instructors have had with a hearing impairment. They may have suggestions as to how you may be best supported to learn in their class.
Get Familiar with Disability Services
The next step is to reach out to your school’s disability office. You may be pleasantly surprised just how many resources they have to offer. Let your school’s Disability Services about your hearing loss and find out what resources they offer. Common resources include personal FM systems to amplify sound or even telecoil induction loops which allow instructors’ voices to be delivered electromagnetically to your compatible hearing aids.
ASL translation and speech-to-text services may also be offered which can help you excel despite hearing issues. Don’t let these valuable resources go to waste.
Position Yourself for Success
Depending on the size of the school you’ve been accepted to, you may find yourself in some rather large classrooms. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of sitting in the back of the class. A big part of hearing relies on where you are seated and how much you can see. Many students with hearing impairments unconsciously rely on lip reading, facial expression, and body language to supplement what they can’t hear. Make sure you have a clear view of the instructor. Positioning yourself in the front of the class will also give you the advantage of being able to hear clearly. If your hearing is asymmetrical, sit in a seat that favors your ear with greater hearing ability. Avoid sitting near noisy AC units, doors, or open windows where distracting sounds can complicate your attention and hearing. Hearing in noise is often exasperated for those with hearing loss so make sure you have as few noisy distractions as possible.
Advocate Among Your Peers
As mentioned earlier, there is no need to disclose your hearing loss to your peers, but disclosure can work to your advantage. When you are open about a hearing loss you have the opportunity to let your classmates know the best ways to communicate. This will allow you to hear them clearly in group discussions or even on personal amicable levels. Most everyone comes to school to learn and you may be surprised how much you learn from classmates and how much you have to offer them.
Schedule A Hearing Exam
Before you head off to college make sure you have all the support you need, and this includes hearing care. Whether you are already a hearing aid user or suspect you have a hearing issue, make sure you schedule a hearing exam. This way, when you start school you will be ready with enhanced hearing, for whatever comes your way.