Peer Inclusion

Q: What can I do to support peer inclusion for my Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child at school?

  1. Work with your child's teacher to find a day in the first month or so after school starts to do a short 15-20 minute presentation about hearing loss and the hearing or communication technology your child uses. All Cochlear implant manufacturers will provide fun FREE youth educational materials to share with the class. There should be educational materials available from your BAHA or Hearing Aid manufacturers as well. You just need to call your child's device support team and they can get you connected with the right department. Providing your child's peers an opportunity to ask questions about hearing loss, deafness and assistive listening and communication technology, brings the peers into the advocacy realm of DHH allies.
  2. Set up a special place for a small group of kids to eat lunch together outside of the lunch room. This can be in their classroom or in a quieter and/or less visually distracting area designated outside of the lunchroom. The lunch room is an especially noisy and visually over stimulating area and it is difficult (if not impossible) to participate in spoken, transcribed or visual conversation. Eating in a small group or with a buddy outside of the lunchroom not only makes peer conversation possible, it also gives your D/HH child a much needed break from noise and over stimulation that will prevent the effects of hearing fatigue from setting in during the afternoon lessons.
  3. Work with your school counselor to host weekly indoor 1:1 recess... Your D/HH child can choose a new friend each week to play an indoor game or activity, supervised by a school counselor or member of the special education team. This gives your child an opportunity to learn about the rules in the popular playground games, build friendships and develop interactive social skills within a more controlled listening environment OR using a Transcription device OR ASL Interpreter. Through this process your D/HH child will be able to apply that knowledge, grow those relationships and apply those social skills on the playground and in class working groups! In addition, this gives your child's peers an opportunity to learn key strategies to communicate effectively with your child (i.e. Get attention, tap shoulder or hand, make eye contact, take turns talking when in a group, etc.). This process also builds self advocacy skills and peers that are confident and comfortable advocating for your child's group inclusion.

Q: My child uses American Sign Language, are there extra things I can do to support peer inclusion?

  1. You can ask your child's IEP team, ASL interpreter or Teacher of the Deaf (TOD) if they can teach a once a week ASL class for peers and teachers before or after school.
  2. Ask the IEP team for a tablet/device with caption services to communicate with peers when the interpreter is absent.
  3. You can ask a teacher to host an ASL Club with the support of your TOD.
  4. Ask for a weekly "Voices Off" lunch group!
  5. Share resources for friends and teachers to learn ASL online!