I hope this next post gives you some insight into what it’s like being deaf with a Cochlear™ Implant within the school environment so you can become more aware of this amazing technology and how to implement strategies if you are a fellow implantee like me 🙂
I went to mainstream primary and high school during my schooling years, it was a challenge for me, but I am a stronger person for it. I was lucky to have such supportive teachers as well as fantastic itinerant teachers (extra support teachers to assist and improve on any difficulties the person is having within the learning environment – particularly literary such as vocabulary). I couldn’t have completed school without them.
One of my teachers had a profound impact on me, instilling in me that I could be or do anything I wanted in life whether it’s life in general, academically or on the sporting field. She was once nominated for an American Teacher’s Excellence Award before she moved to Australia, so I was super lucky to partner with her from Grade 6 to 12. She taught me to be more assertive in the classroom and advocated for my rights to be able to learn without having underlying barriers such as requesting for the provision of captioned videos/ DVDs. My long-term itinerant teacher has paved the way for my future by instilling confidence and determination into my life so that I can better handle future situations.
In conjunction, throughout my high school years, the Cochlear™ implant technology went through some amazing and ground-breaking changes including downsizing from the speech processor box and ear piece to being just all behind-the-ear! It was pure freedom for us implantees who were now able to participate in sports without risking damage to the processor.
Can you imagine what it was like to lug a small box with wire going to our ear everyday? We weren’t allowed to play contact sports and people would look at us weirdly wondering why we have this wire coming from our pockets or back (I wore mine like a little backpack underneath my uniform/ t-shirt) to our ear! Perhaps they thought it was like a cool new music headphone invention! Or perhaps they thought we were aliens from outer space! But regardless, we were still lucky to be hearing with the speech processor no matter what it looked like at the time!
The release of the behind-the-ear Nucleus® ESPrit speech processor came at the absolute best time for me – I was in Grade 8 (around 14 years old) where body image and fashion was of utmost importance on any teenage girl’s mind, so I was able to finally go shopping and get some cool dresses without worrying about the bump (speech processor) on my back or the dangling cords! It also gave me better self-esteem and body image to not worry about what people think of my appearance, even better, the behind the ear processor made me feel proud and want to embrace the hearing device more so!
This current generation of implantees should be proud to wear the new Nucleus® 6 processor with its pretty cool technology including being water proof, better sound quality (they can hear better then me!), eliminating background noises in noisy environments or when talking on the phone or when in group conversations – too good to be true? But wait there’s more… it can also enable us to listen to music on our iPods as loud as possible without making a noise to the outside world (like a sound proof room!) and there’s a hearing loop so we can focus hearing to the radio/ TV/ internet clips/ cinemas/ phone through the use of wireless/ Bluetooth technology.
Perhaps this might appeal to the hearing population as well?!😆
Sorry to cut this short! But getting back to the real focus now! Here are 3 top tips/ advice for implantees/ teachers/ students or anyone really, on how to cope within the classroom environment (only a few but I’ll add more throughout my future posts):
- Be assertive: The only way you are going to learn on an even playing field is by being assertive. Educate and let your teachers know of your hearing impairment – teach them deaf-awareness as you are the only one that knows what you need to enable the best learning environment and engagement in the classroom. For example, there are many teachers that speak with their back to the class while writing on the blackboard/ whiteboard – we need teachers to be facing the class when they talk. Some also mumble quite a bit (especially us Australians – I’m sorry in advance, but many of us are lazy when it comes to using our mouths properly when we talk!), so ensure they are always speaking clearly (doesn’t have to be loudly either as we can hear you perfectly fine – just speak clearer with better use of your mouth when talking! 😁).
- Peer Groups: Don’t be afraid to ask again or repeat what the conversation was about – we may have difficulties trying to listen in on a convo if we don’t know what it was about initially. But once we know what the topic is about, we are all good! And please – never tell us the 2 dreaded words we hate to hear: ” Never mind” – it’s definitely not cool being told that! This pretty much tells us that we are excluded from the group convo or topic.
- Make the most of your implant: Implantees – make sure you really know how to make the most of your implant, such as changing the settings for different environments (Nucleus® 6 users, your processors do this automatically) such as background mode for noisy environments, use of hearing loop when watching DVDs in classroom, tuning into speech mode so we can focus our hearing into what the teacher is saying, wear a sweat band when playing contact/ land sports to protect it from contact/ sweat damage, and wear the Aqua-Accessory (or Aqua+ for Nucleus 5 or 6 users) if you have school sports involving water sports.
I will certainly share more tips and advice through my future posts, so stay tuned for the next one!
Hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you’ll also get to know us a bit better from a deaf perspective over these posts 😉😎
Until next time 🙂