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Why we should teach kids about hearing loss

By: Paul Harrison Updated: 8th October 2020 in: Latest News, Articles
Why we should teach kids about hearing loss

Why we should teach kids about hearing loss

Raising awareness on National Audiology Awareness Month 2020

Considering National Audiology Awareness Month – we thought it was the perfect time to discuss something a little bit different.  At Hearing Aid UK, we love any opportunity where we can talk about subjects that are very important to us.  This year we have decided to raise awareness about how important it is to teach children about hearing loss.

So, why is it so important?  Fortunately, we live in a time where information and resources are accessible on the internet, making it easier to gain an education on hearing loss or any other subjects.  Creating a digital world of tools, support, education, community hubs and forums - for people to connect and grow on their hearing loss journey.

There are so many dedicated people and charities that do a great job in raising awareness and just this year we’ve seen the launch of the hearing aid emoji and the dolls that have hearing aids or cochlear implants – all tapping into the younger generation and highlighting inclusivity.

 

“This is a huge step in the right direction - squishing the stigma surrounding hearing loss and hearing aids.  However, there is so much more we can do, and it all starts with the kids.  It’s a topic that isn’t taught at school, so when children meet children with hearing aids, they might label them as being different.  Even as adults, we know the lack of understanding evokes judgement and can contribute to bullying - either in the workforce or in the school playground.  We strongly believe that teaching a child about hearing loss early on can help and truly make a difference in how they respond and understand” 

Paul Harrison Founder & Audiologist at Hearing Aid UK

 

So, what can we do to raise awareness to the younger generation?  Here are a few ideas to make it simpler for these young minds:

How hearing works

  • Find a diagram of inside an ear online – perhaps you might want to print it off, so it is easier to see and point to.
  • Then point to the different parts of the ear – The outer ear canal, eardrum and the auditory nerve that goes to the brain.
  • Using your finger show how sound travels through the ear canal to the auditory nerve and explain that this nerve leads to the brain, where it works out what the ear has heard.  Then explain that your brain then tells you what sound you have heard – was it a bird?  Was it a car?
  • Point to the auditory nerve and explain that when children having hearing loss, it is because this part of the ear is damaged.

Ear Diagram

How hearing aids work

  • Explain that hearing aids work like a ‘funnel’, which zooms in on the sound and sends it straight to the ear.
  • The hearing aid makes sense of the sound so the auditory nerve can understand what it is.  Very clever!

How hearing aids help in school

  • Explain that it is hard for children with hearing loss to hear their classroom friends without wearing their hearing aids.  Children may be too far away for them to hear or read their lips.  Voices may be too quiet to hear even if they are close by.
  • Wearing hearing aids make voices and sound louder so that they can hear, follow and get involved with the rest of the classroom.
  • Explain that sometimes the teacher may wear a microphone around their kneck to help make her voice louder for the child with hearing loss to hear better using their hearing aids.

Hearing aids are cool, they don’t make children any ‘different’

  • It is important to let children know and understand that hearing aids don’t change a child.
  • A child with hearing loss still eats sweets, plays games and reads like all the other children.
  • Tell them that it is important to ask them to join in all your games in the playground with your other friends.
  • Remember that hearing loss does not mean being 'different' or that they should be treated differently – it means their ears need a little help.

By giving children a simple and easy to understand education about hearing loss and hearing aids they will realise that all children should be treated the same.  In turn, children will tell other children about hearing loss, which promotes inclusivity and a greater understanding.

We all just need to be willing and equipped into educating children the right way – in a way they understand.  Nurturing a young mind to not discriminate and to treat everyone equally throughout their lives is invaluable.  Education paves a path for understanding – so we no longer fear or judge what we cannot comprehend.

 

Read Next:  Types of Hearing Loss

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