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Globally hearing loss affects about 10% of the population to some degree. It caused moderate to severe disability in 124.2 million people as of 2004 (107.9 million of whom are in low and middle income countries). Of these 65 million acquired the condition during childhood.
In a residential school where all the children use the same communication system (whether it is a school using ASL, Total Communication or Oralism), students will be able to interact normally with other students, without having to worry about being criticized. An argument supporting inclusion, on the other hand, exposes the student to people who aren't just like them, preparing them for adult life. Through interacting, children with hearing disabilities can expose themselves to other cultures which in the future may be beneficial for them when it comes to finding jobs and living on their own in a society where their disability may put them in the minority. These are some reasons why a person may or may not want to put their child in an inclusion classroom.
For a classroom setting, children with hearing loss often benefit from interventions. One simple example is providing favorable seating for the child. Having the student sit as close to the teacher as possible improves the student's ability to hear the teacher's voice and to more easily read the teacher's lips. When lecturing, teachers should try to look at the student as much as possible and limit unnecessary noise in the classroom. In particular, the teacher should avoid talking when their back is turned to the classroom, such as while writing on a whiteboard.
Some other approaches for classroom accommodations include pairing deaf or hard of hearing students with hearing students. This allows the deaf or hard of hearing student to ask the hearing student questions about concepts that they have not understood. The use of CART (Communication Access Real Time) systems, where an individual types a captioning of what the teacher is saying, is also beneficial. The student views this captioning on their computer. Automated captioning systems are also becoming a popular option. In an automated system, software, instead of a person, is used to generate the captioning. Unlike CART systems, automated systems generally do not require an Internet connection and thus they can be used anywhere and anytime. Another advantage of automated systems over CART is that they are much lower in cost. However, automated systems are generally designed to only transcribe what the teacher is saying and to not transcribe what other students say. An automated system works best for situations where just the teacher is speaking, whereas a CART system will be preferred for situations where there is a lot of classroom discussion.
For those students who are completely deaf, one of the most common interventions is having the child communicate with others through an interpreter using sign language
Road to Independence: The Road to Independence works towards independence for people with hearing loss. Our founder, Fanie du Toit works to provide support for those experiencing hearing loss, and to provide resources to assist with problems faced in the workplace and at home. Fanie is also involved in the development of white papers and legislation to prevent discriminiation and allow for reasonable accomodation for people with hearing loss. Road to Independence also aims to provide support for professioanls working in the hearing care field, such as audiologists, by providing training on the available legislation and how best to serve a patient with hearing loss in the workplace and beyond.