College is an exciting time filled with learning about yourself and the subjects that interest you. But you may be feeling stressed or anxious about navigating college classes and spaces with hearing loss. Even if you wear hearing aids, experiencing hearing loss in this new chapter of your life can feel overwhelming because you don’t know what you expect. This is completely normal and we want you to know that there are several strategies you can practice to help you feel prepared. The following tips can help you successfully navigate college while supporting your hearing needs:
- Learn more about campus resources. Before starting classes, you can learn more about the campus wide resources your school offers. There are specific services and resources that all campuses provide for people with different learning needs. There will be an office you can go to to learn more about the resources available to support your hearing needs. It is important to check-in with the people who can connect you with the resources that will best help you succeed.
Be sure to learn about the support they offer for students with hearing loss. This can range from resources and accommodations like:
- Access to live captioning services
- Written class notes or transcripts
- Test taking accommodations
- Office hours with your professors
There may also be support groups or student organizations that you can learn about an join. This allows you to create a support system on campus which is a great way to be supported while you navigate college life.
- Choose seating ahead of time. Another useful strategy you should practice is being intentional about seating. Thinking about and identifying where you are going to sit in your classroom can really support your hearing needs. The following tips around seating are helpful:
- Avoid sitting near sources of noise: fans, windows, a/c units, speakers etc. This places you next to sources of background noise which make it harder to hear. Additional noise creates more noise for the brain to have to process and filter through.
- Sit closer to the front and in the middle. This allows you to have a clear line of vision of the professor and any visual aids they may use (powerpoint presentation, video, photos etc.).
Communicating the importance of seating to your professor ahead of time can help you secure the best possible seating.
- Disclose your hearing loss. You may be wondering if you should share your hearing loss with others. Though it may feel awkward or tough to talk about your health, it is important that you disclose your hearing loss with others. This offers several important benefits that best serve your hearing needs. This includes letting others know that you may experience some challenges during conversations, there are ways they can help and support your hearing needs, and it provides you with access to the support that can help you thrive. For example, sharing your hearing loss with your professors enables them to send you notes and presentations.
- Share communication strategies. Disclosing your hearing loss invites others to participate in making sure conversations and spaces are more accessible. It allows you to share communication strategies that are most helpful for your hearing. These strategies for effective communication can include:
- Grabbing your attention before starting a conversation.
- Maintaining visibility by facing you.
- Rephrasing rather than repeating when you haven’t heard something.
- Speaking in a natural voice, taking pauses between sentences.
- Reducing background noise as much as possible.
- Avoiding multitasking during a conversation so everyone can be fully present.
- Texting or emailing detailed information.
- Advocate for your hearing needs. Be sure to always prioritize and advocate for your hearing needs. This includes asking for clarification when needed, requesting notes/agendas/presentations via email, sharing communication strategies etc.
- Protect hearing health. Be sure to also practice ways to protect your hearing health on campus. Tips include wearing hearing protection (earplugs, headphones, earbuds etc.), avoiding noisy spaces especially during peak hours, taking listening breaks throughout the day, and maintaining lower volume settings on your electronic devices.
Practicing these strategies can help you navigate your college campus and classrooms with greater ease and confidence. Contact us today to learn more about the resources and technologies available to support you and your hearing health!