Teachers with disabilities

Discussion in 'General Education' started by supertaz93, Oct 2, 2008.

  1. supertaz93

    supertaz93 Rookie

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    I am a teacher with a hearing disability that is really effecting my ability to teach. I was wondering if there are other teachers on here who have a disability and if they would be willing to share how they overcame their disability in the classroom. For me I have a hard time hearing students in my large classes. I also have trouble pinpointing where the sound is coming from because the sound bounces off the walls. I was at the point of throwing in the towel but my union rep has suggested getting a para in my room.

    :thanks:
     
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  3. midwestteacher

    midwestteacher Cohort

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    I know a vocational teacher that is a parapelegic and is in a wheelchair. I know this isn't really like your case, but his school has gone to great lengths to accomodate him in the classroom. He has lots of space to get around, he uses a SMARTboard and his chalk board is lower so he can reach it. He also uses an overhead a lot. I know this isn't like not being able to hear students well, but there are teachers out there with disabilities.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    supertaz, have a hug. I can't offer you much else. But you're by no means the only one on A to Z with a hearing disability: there's cutNglue for sure, and several others who will doubtless check in and have some good counsel for you.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    CutNglue is a wonderful resource for you.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    cutNglue is a wonderful resource, full stop. But the same can be said of a number of others on A to Z.
     
  7. supertaz93

    supertaz93 Rookie

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    Thanks, I hope to hear from cutNglue.
     
  8. Annie227

    Annie227 Companion

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    My favorite teacher in high school was blind (since early childhood). The district hired an aide to enter his grades and he would usually have a student helper to take roll. He taught for 30+ years and rarely had a problem in the classroom. He had all his lecture notes in braille. The school also helped by minimizing the amount of "stuff" in his classroom - just desks, chairs, his desk, and 1 file cabinet - and making sure janitors didn't rearrange furniture. He was an incredible teacher!
     
  9. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    I suffer from dyslexia, but that's really not the same thing. What I do, is use an LCD projector so most of my stuff is already spell checked and when I have to write on the board, if I make a spelling mistake, I give the kid who finds it a candy as a reward.
     
  10. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    I also have a hearing impairment. I haven't yet had to teach a large class, but I'm concerned that it might cause difficulties. For this reason, I'm considering looking for jobs like resource room or title I instead of classrooms when I re-enter the job market. So far, I've had small classes and it hasn't been a big deal. Occassionally I mis-hear or have to ask for a repetition, but I don't consider that too problematic.

    I'm also considering getting hearing aids. Until now I felt that my loss wasn't serious enough to justify the expense, but when I started teaching I did begin to feel some strain. I'm wondering if they would actually help, though.

    Now I have a couple of questions for you!
    Do you use hearing aids?
    What made you realize your problem is "affecting your ability to teach?" At what point do you draw the line and say, This isn't great -- I need to do something?
     
  11. supertaz93

    supertaz93 Rookie

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    I do use hearing aids. I started wearing them in July. They are very frustrating. Although my hearing loss is moderate to severe, I do not always feel that it is that bad. My biggest difficulty is in understanding speech. I only get 85% of the words correct when they say a word and I have to repeat. The frustration with the hearing aids is that I hear every little thing that I could care less to hear and still can't hear what I really need to hear. I realized it was affecting my teaching when all I can think about is the noise that I am hearing. I want to hurry up and get done with the lesson so I can space out so I don't have to hear every pencil stop, shoe move, book open, pages turn. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I have been working with my audiologist to tweek the aids but it seems like we make one adjustment and something else changes. The sound bounces off the walls and it is very hard to pinpoint where the sound is coming from. Another frustration, especially since I teach high school, is when I don't hear a question and have to have them repeat. There are times I have to have them repeat 3 times. Many times they give up before that and someone else assists them. I should see that as a good thing but it hurts me. It's almost like I have a disconnecton between my brain and my ears. If someone asks and question and someone else is talking (evenly quietly), my attention goes to the other person. I am working on that but it is really difficult. When I taught two years ago in a small school with small class sizes I did not have any problems. All of my kids were within 2 rows of me. Now my kids are 6 rows deep. My suggestion on the hearing aids is find a place that will let you try them out for a month. Honestly, I need small class sizes or a more one-on-one atmosphere. I am either going to go back to the previous school I taught at or try to get into math resource.
     
  12. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    I am dsylexic as well. I do not have a projector, wish I did. I have however shared being dsylexia with my students and asked them for help if they see me writing things wrong. My 8th graders are great about helping me with this.

    I hope everything gets better for you.
     
  13. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    Have you thought about reorginizing your room maybe into a u shape? Have you really worked on silence during the lessons? Due to a disablity I have difficulty discerning sounds when a lot are going on at once, so the first few months are spent training the kids that when I talk if I haven't called on them no one talks.
     
  14. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    I agree with Emonkey about the room arrangement -- it may not work depending just how huge your class is (/room isn't!) but even if you do two rows in a semicircle, it can help keep everyone visible (I assume you rely at least somewhat on speechreading) and also with directionality -- a bit easier to tell who's talking when there are fewer people in each direction. It also helps communication among the whole class -- makes it easier to have a whole class discussion without a lot of smaller breakaways, resulting in fewer conflicting noises for you. Could be a great management strategy overall.
     
  15. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    Supertaz -- My hearing is quite a bit better than yours, but from my research into hearing aids it seems that most people eventually get used to the little background sounds. You might want to check out some sensory processing resources for strategies on coping with that as most people with sensory processing problems have difficulty filtering out background noises.

    As for the tweaking, that's a major reason why I decided to put off getting aids. I'd heard that the adjustment process can be long and difficult and didn't want to mess with my hearing while I was teaching. Maybe trying a different position with smaller groups would be a good idea at this stage.

    Right now it sounds like the aids are more of a problem than the disability! (Though of course I have no idea about your specific situation) What happens if you try going without them? I've heard of people trying to get used to hearing aids by wearing them in easier situations first -- e.g. at home before trying to deal with all the sounds in the classroom. If you have to ask for repeats a lot -- well, I know how annoying it is and how much it hurts when people just give up on communicating with you. But you should expect your students to respect you just as you would demand that they respect a classmate in a similar situation. Are you frank with them about your needs? Have you told them that you are listening, want to hear what they say, and have a lot to offer in response, but need them to speak loudly and clearly and sometimes repeat?
     
  16. who me

    who me Rookie

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    I, too, have a hearing loss. I am almost completely deaf in one ear. I have not found it to be a real significant problem. I have great difficulty with the directionality of sound but because I've stuck with lower grades that's not much of a problem. All I have to say is "Who is talk?" and the kids love to rat out the source of the noise, even if it is their best friend. I know all that changes as children get older. I wish you luck and hope you find what works for you.
     
  17. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    yarnwoman - its nice to know that I am not alone as a dyslexic teacher. As for the LCD projector, I actually bought it myself because I felt I needed it!
     
  18. supertaz93

    supertaz93 Rookie

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    I wonder if I had a projector where I could walk around the room and be in the middle of the kids if that could be a possibility.

    As far as the U shape, I don't think that is feasible in my room. I have been trying to come up with a different seating arrangement. I have 2 classes of 25 and 1 with 29 and they are those big student desks. the room holds five columns with enough walk room between each. I am open for suggestions on seating arrangements.
     
  19. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    LONG POST AHEAD!!

    Thanks for thinking of me! Alice clued me in about this thread.

    I have never taught a full class having my level of hearing loss. I am profound in one ear and severe to profound (without the aid) in the other ear. Having said that, I have taught informal hearing classes for kids from pre-k-5th grade. By informal I mean Sunday school or after school programs, etc. I also grew up in hearing schools without an interpreter so I have learned a few skills or two. From the sound of it you are going through 2 major adjustments. One adjustment is your hearing aids. I wish I could say that is going to be solved overnight but it isn't always quite that easy. I can go back and forth on that all day alone and you can PM me if you are interested. It is, however, a lifesaver once it does get worked out. The second adjustment is figuring out how to work with your hearing loss and finding some coping strategies to help deal with it.

    Having a para in the room could be a very good start. I like that idea. Here are some other things you can try....

    Plan a variety of ways students can respond to you during your lessons: (Examples)
    • Use mini dry-erase boards (to display personal answers)
    • Rethink how you use your smartboard and other technology (if available) to make them more interactive.
    • Use visual/body cues. Raise your hand if you think the answer is “yes.” Put your hands behind your head (like you are lounging) if you think the answer is “no.”
    • Give multiple choice answers and let them refer to a sign language alphabet to respond (it’s different).

    Teach them different responsive coping strategies to help you: (Examples)
    • Ask them to reword the question if you didn’t hear it the first time.
    • Teach them to open their mouths (as best as you can without embarrassing them).
    • Ask them to write the question out or point to what they are talking about first.

    One of the best coping strategies for figuring out a conversation is knowing the topic. Ask them to tell you the topic first then go into the question or the explanation. Let them work in groups to chart out ideas so when they explain things you have something to reference to. This helps you make inferences.

    Consider off the wall ideas that might help you. I actually went to a hearing debating type meeting with a panel of hearing people and I managed to get them to respect my red folder. This means when I raise it, turn taking is not happening appropriately and I'm not following or there is too much talking at once. I also gave them each one and they actually used it themselves!!

    DO consider the layout of your room. Visibility is the key. Your eyes may need to replace your ears to detect where sound is coming from (takes practice). Even WHICH classroom you are in makes a tremendous difference. Make sure the sound quality in your room is good to begin with. Try different classrooms. You might be able to request a switch if the classroom you are in isn't a good match. You also should not be hearing sounds from other classrooms or from your AC if you can help it. ANYTHING you can do to minimize noise will help you.

    The excess noise needs to stop. Explain why these noises are bothering you. Give a good heart to heart talk. I'm telling you, I have done this with ADULTS who no matter what were not respecting these types of things when I told them I couldn't hear but when I explained things more clearly, things changed. If you need help with that, I can give you a few pointers. Hint, just telling people you can't hear well is not clear enough. Put some tally marks when you hear too much tapping, etc. Show them visually how many disruptive sounds you are hearing. Ask them to help you figure out how to minimize this. This will only work though if you have built up enough rapport with them. Consider a Yakker Tracker (buy online) if things persist.

    There are so many different hard of hearing strategies you can try, but only time will help you fit what will help you the most in the situation you are in. The key is to be creative, flexible and willing to consistently rethink the situation. Honestly, there are days when it wears me out and I’ve been this way since I was 2 years old. It is never easy, but it can be doable. A small resource room is another great idea, but for this year…try some of these suggestions and look for more along the way.
     
  20. supertaz93

    supertaz93 Rookie

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    Thanks for the information.
     
  21. Bored of Ed

    Bored of Ed Enthusiast

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    CutnGlue -- I'm happy you've found so much cooperation from your colleagues. I have a really hard time in my college classes where some people just yak straight through and it's hard for me to hear the profs. I didn't think it would be an issue at the college level -- we're all adults, many hoping to be teachers ourselves, and yet even when the teachers ask for quiet, they don't listen! :(
     
  22. runnerss

    runnerss Comrade

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    Wow! Yall are amazing. Yall have overcome your difficulties and done a great job. :)
     
  23. runnerss

    runnerss Comrade

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    I don't consider mine a disabilty ( i guess it is how you look at it). However, I am very proud in the fact that I have overcome ADHD without medicine. It is VERY hard at times. There are times when I don't have the energy to deal with my ADHD. I just want to sit back and do whatever. But then I check myself back into reality immediately. I know that wouldn't benefit anyone. Some people don't realize that it is a VERY real problem for those who truly have it. I have figured out when I need a break, take lots of notes, when I put something down I will say it out loud where I put it, how to organize myself to be successful, etc.
     
  24. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I know you say you have too many desks to do a horseshoe, but have you tried the "double horseshoe?" Some people call it the horseshoe within a horseshow. The desk are in a squared-off U shape, and then there is a line of desks in front of that in the middle. It is amazing how much better you can hear because you will be able to see all of their faces and their mouths.
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Aural Rehabilitation is not a bad idea. IF you get a good one, then they can teach you many small techniques to help improve your ability specific to your needs.
     
  26. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Our insurance doesn't cover them but I can't live without my hearing aide!
     
  27. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Better than me! I can't pick up anything without it. I can make out shouted speech (most of it unintelligible) if it is within a foot of me.
     
  28. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 12, 2008

    I ran across something I haven't thought about in a couple of years and thought of this thread.

    http://www.harriscomm.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1279

    This may not be the easiest on the eyes or even the best loop system but it'll give the idea. If you are interested, you can contact your local audiologist for more assistance.

    Basically it is a thin wire that goes around the classroom and when you turn your hearing aid on the telephone (t-coil) mode, then it picks up the recirculated, amplified sounds. That's my quick understanding. It isn't completely cheap but it is reasonable enough that you should be able to ask your employer to get it for you. It is $300 for this system.
     
  29. teacherfan

    teacherfan Cohort

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    I got my hearing aids at Costco and they work fine. I paid about half the "regular"cost, they are digital, open ear aids.
     

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