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Why do some youth with cochlear implants or hearing aids request communication accommodations and others do not in meetings or classrooms?

A common question is why some people with hearing aids or cochlear implants may have different accessibility needs than others.  Both cochlear implants and hearing aids have microphones that will amplify all the sounds coming into them.  This is important to note, as it doesn't amplify only the particular speech signal the individual wants to hear.  Cochlear implants and hearing aids do not bring perfect hearing. . There are many other factors to consider:

  • Good acoustics and noise control – They play a major role in the intelligibility of speech
  • Electromagnetic interference (EMI) - Electromagnetic fields are the by-product of many electrical devices and systems, such as fluorescent lighting, electric motors, and electric power lines. They interfere the ability of hearing aids and cochlear implants to receive the speech signals.
  • Proper lighting – Adequate ambient and artificial lighting is important for speechreading or watching an interpreter
  • Experience in using cochlear implant or hearing aid – Users need to get familiar in accessing clear speech signal or interpret the sender and the receiver of the message under environment conditions
  • Making use of assistive listening devices (ALDS) in group settings – They often supplement hearing aids or cochlear implants for full communication accommodation in difficult listening environments
  • Real-time captionist or interpreter for group setting  - Some youth might require accommodations such as an interpreter or real-time captionist even though they have a cochlear implant.

Post-secondary education institutes or employers should check how to determine accommodation needs in what kind of communication accommodation is best for meeting the individual youth's needs.  College or university classrooms and the rate at which content is presented will likely be different than from high school environments. This will also be different in the workplace.

Possible solutions

Look at appropriate acoustics

Rooms need to be designed for proper reverberation and attenuation of sound

Provide media or TV captioning

Televisions and media materials (video, DVD, YouTube, etc.) used in classrooms, meeting rooms, place or study or training, etc., should display closed or open captions

Make use of Assistive Listening Devices

Devices that make communication easier in difficult listening environments. Explore the chs.ca e-store on technology readily available for group settings

Set up proper indoor lighting

Adequate ambient and artificial lighting is important for speechreading, visual clues, watching interpreters or captionist

Be aware of open space designs

Open space designs provide sight and light solutions that benefit youth who are deaf or hard of hearing, but acoustics could generally be worse.

Source: Pepnet 2 (Resources website for deaf and hard of hearing students)

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