Special Needs Transportation

Dealing with Hearing-Impaired Riders

Posted on December 1, 2001

Because ability levels range widely among students with hearing impairments, it is vital that drivers and assistants work with students and their teachers to determine student riders’ needs. The transportation staff should not expect most hearing-impaired students to gain information from lip reading alone. Instead, they should cultivate other communication methods. Here are four tips to get you started. Be visible — Get the student’s attention before speaking. Keep a good light on your face, stay at a comfortable distance, keep your head toward the student and don’t obscure your mouth. Be clear — Speak clearly, perhaps a little louder than usual, but don’t shout. This only distorts the lips, which makes lip-reading difficult. Speak with ordinary rhythm and flow of speech. Be concise — Make sure the student understands the subject from the beginning and get right to the point. Don’t change the subject without warning. Be patient — Be prepared to repeat things. If you’ve tried a couple of times and can’t get the message across, rearrange the sentence and present it in a different way. Don’t ever say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” or “It’s not important.” Source: Special-Needs Transportation Handbook, Dr. Ray Turner, www.whitebuffalopress.com.

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