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Hearing Impairment


Hearing impairment is a term used to describe all types of hearing defects, ranging from a minute hearing loss to profound deafness. If you are deaf or experience hearing loss you may have a combination of the following:

  • Slight, mild, moderate, severe, or profound loss of hearing
  • Fluctuations in hearing
  • Speech difficulties
  • Difficulties with the structure of written language and comprehension of text
  • Understanding idioms or colloquialisms, and the subtleties often construed through spoken language
  • Difficulty picking up tone of voice, particularly confusing when tone is used to portray sarcasm
  • Social isolation from the rest of the class

The impact of hearing loss depends on the type, extent and timing of loss.

How does a hearing impairment affect my learning?

Learning styles:

  • You usually prefer a visual /kinaesthetic style of learning which means learning by reading, looking and writing.


  • You may require the support of a Communication Support Worker or a specialist teacher of the deaf to understand others.
  • You may or may not use speech.

Individual requirements:

  • Expert support will be needed for advice on your needs within the college.
  • You will need note takers who are trained in preparing notes for British Sign Language users. You may depend on lip reading, although only 25% of words can be lip read.
  • Hearing aids may be used but they do not give perfect hearing, particularly as they amplify all sounds including background noise.
  • Loops which can be permanent or portable can be set up and worn around the neck.


  • You will take longer to read as the process of lip-reading a word and seeing the actual word are separate and do not come together automatically, as is the case for fluent readers.
  • There may be significant gaps in understanding vocabulary.
  • You may misunderstand words with more than one meaning, for example, insight/incite, red/read, plane/plain.
  • You may have difficulty learning vocabulary, grammar, word order, idiomatic expressions, and other aspects of verbal communication.


  • Group work may be stressful for you. The learning environment will need to be well-lit, and you will need to be seated near the front of the class if possible.


Further guidance, information and support on Hearing Impairment can found here: Action on Hearing Loss.

Strategies to support learning for those who are hearing impaired

Classroom management:

  • Make sure that you are seated at the front of the class and have a clear view of the tutors face.
  • Ask questions to check that you have fully understood what you are expected to do and what you think is expected.
  • Make it clear what support you need to enable your needs to be met.


  • Discuss with the your support worker and tutor how you need things to be modified.
  • Create a glossary of key words, technical terms and definitions.


  • Make sure that you have understood the full instruction.
  • Repeat the instruction to ensure that you have got the correct sequence and all of the detail and steps.


  • Ensure that a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) takes place.


  • Ensure that the visual appearance of handouts/text is appropriate, as this is an important aid to understanding.
  • Ask the support worker to make notes that support you learning needs.

Additional resource:

  • You may require transcripts of video and audio tapes.
  • A phonetic approach is often taken to spelling.
  • The use of a spell checker, computer-based dictionary and a thesaurus may be necessary to support written work.


Last updated: 16th August 2023

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