Sensorineural Hearing Loss Teaching Strategies

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
In this lesson, you will learn the definition of sensorineural hearing loss. Then you will learn some important teaching strategies for children with sensorineural hearing loss.

What Is Sensorineural Hearing Loss?

If you like to blast music in your car or go to loud nightclubs, you may want to think twice. Loud noises like this can damage your ear and lead to sensorineural hearing loss. This is a form of hearing loss caused by a problem in the inner ear, the brain, or the nerve that connects the brain to the inner ear. It is often difficult to tell if the hairs in the cochlea (inner ear) are damaged, or if it is nerve damage, hence the name sensorineural.

But sensorineural hearing loss doesn't have to be caused solely by loud music. Some people are unfortunately born with this type of hearing loss or acquire it for other reasons, like injury, early or later on in life. It is the most common type of permanent hearing loss and cannot be surgically corrected.

While many people are over the age of 60 when they experience sensorineural hearing loss, there are young people affected by it as well. In fact, some of these people may be your students. As a result of their limited hearing, you may need to employ special considerations in order to create the best learning environment for them. Let's take a look at some strategies for teaching a child (or adult) with sensorineural hearing loss.


Have you ever had a hard time concentrating because of the drip of a faucet or buzz of a fly? Now imagine those noise are consistent and impeding your ability to actually hear. This is what people with sensorineural hearing loss experience. One thing to consider in your classroom is the presence of background noise that may interfere with or obstruct the child's ability to learn properly. This could be something like highway traffic noise coming from a nearby freeway, a ventilation system within the classroom, or the chatter of other kids during a group activity.

In order to improve a child's learning experience with respect to acoustics, seat them away from sources of noise like windows or heating systems. Seat the child with hearing loss as closely as possible to the speaker as well. In some instances, this may not be enough. A room switch may be in order too, perhaps, a different side of the building that is away from the highway. Or, rooms may need to be modified by the school to minimize noise or to absorb as much background noise as possible. Modifications for this could include using carpeting instead of hard floors or using special acoustic ceiling tiles.

Classroom Strategies

There are other things that can be done within the classroom to help improve the child's learning experience. When arranging a classroom to better suit a hearing impaired child, place the seating arrangement in a circular or horseshoe shape so that the child can see everyone. If this is not possible, then reserve the front rows for students who are hard of hearing and/or their interpreters.

Ensure everyone has to raise their hand prior to speaking so the child can divert their attention to the speaker with a visual cue (especially when the desks are arranged in a circle). But the child may not always spot the other students speaking. This is why it's important that you repeat any comments or questions other students have made. When speaking for any reason, make sure you are always facing the class and not the class board.

If you will be giving out any instructions, keep them brief and clear. If you're going to repeat something, repeat exactly, and do not paraphrase. Additionally, try to take the time to review and summarize prior information periodically. It may be helpful to give your hearing impaired students written instructions as well.

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