• You're NOT Loud Enough

    Posted by Monica Weick on 2/28/2022

    Imagine you’re trying to have a conversation with the person next to you, but all you can hear is the live music in the restaurant or the shows squeaking, and the ball banging on the floor, and shouting in the gym during a middle school basketball game. How do you feel? Do you understand everything you’re listening to?Do you feel like you’re guessing what others are saying? For many, it’s nearly impossible to have a conversation without yelling and guessing what is being said. This is due to the noise to sound ratio. How loud is the background compared to how loud the person is speaking? 

    For different people, a different ratio is needed and there are tests and assessments that can be used to determine those needs. However, it doesn’t need to be as extreme as a basketball game, with the buzzers, whistles, and squeaking shoes or a concert’s blaring speakers to impact our ability to hear those around us. Instead, it can be as simple as a fan blowing, music playing softly in the background, or someone talking on the other side of the room. Those “small” changes can make or break someone’s ability to hear and comprehend what is being said. 

    In the classroom, noise is inevitable: students whispering, a teacher talking to a small group, laughing, noise from a chromebook, the heater blowing air,  or even the scraping of chairs (in the nicest scenario). These sounds make it difficult for teachers to hear students and for students to hear teachers. If we add things like music, an extra fan on a hot day or to dry out the floor after a pipe bursts, or trying to talk over students, it becomes nearly impossible to fully and efficiently access the information so critical to the day's lesson or even that conversation, especially for those with processing concerns, hearing loss, sensory processing, or if neurodivergent. It doesn’t matter how loud or the volume of your voice, you’re just not loud enough. The louder we talk (or yell) the more distorted the sound becomes (think about talking with Grandma or Great Uncle Pete). 

    Having an appropriate signal to noise ratio in your classroom can be a game changer for EVERYONE, not just students with an IEP or 504. The first thing to do is take control of the extraneous noise you can control. Try turning off any background music playing if any audible communication is taking place, get the class’ attention prior to speaking, use area rugs on hard surfaced floors, and if possible turn off any fans. However, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that all noise can be controlled by us (would be nice though). There are times when we need to increase the signal (the voice of the person talking). We often do that through amplification of some kind. It could be a microphone and speaker system for the entire class, it could be a microphone streaming directly to a hearing aid or cochlear implant. Another way to combat noise is by using written directions or visuals to provide context to the discussion or even provide automatic captioning for everyone using something like Webcaptioner. 

    **For more information on captioning check out the article, Captioning for All, by Tai Botkin. 

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  • Hearing and Auditory Fatigue

    Posted by Tai Botkin on 11/29/2021


    My children are avid athletes.  It is not uncommon for them to be participating in multiple sports in simultaneous seasons.  I’m often asked if they get tired, and the truth is, yes!  There are muscle aches, soreness, and other physical side effects to their training.  An athlete faces adverse physical reactions, voracious readers may experience weary eyes after a lengthy book, and prolonged auditory attention can result in listening or auditory fatigue . 

    We have all experienced listening fatigue, even though you may not have known it had a name.  Symptoms of listening fatigue can include zoning out, daydreaming, feeling the need for a break or overall tiredness.  As adults, it is easier to meet our individual needs but not so easy for students.  As if listening fatigue weren’t difficult enough, imagine that you also have hearing loss.  Ian Noon, Head of Policy and Research at the National Deaf Children’s Society in the United Kingdom, explains what the listening process looks like for those with hearing loss, “It’s about the energy involved in lip-reading and being attentive all day long. Processing and constructing meaning out of half-heard words and sentences. Making guesses and figuring out context. And then thinking of something intelligent to say in response to an invariably random question. It’s like doing jigsaws, Sudoku and Scrabble all at the same time.” (Listening Fatigue Within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community-Hear For You, 2020) The hearing process is quite complex and for our students with hearing loss it is not automatic.  

    “Recent research has shown that even the “simple” act of listening and understanding can be exhausting. Individuals with hearing loss must put forth more “listening effort” and cognitive resources to attend to auditory information.” (Davis, 2021)  I have listed a few things that may be done to minimize auditory fatigue.  

    • Reduce background noise in the classroom and shut the door to dampen hallway sounds. 
    • Provide accommodations.  These may include preferential seating, a copy of class notes, and using visuals within the classroom.
    • Make sure the student is using their amplification.  Do they wear personal amplification and is there additional technology such as a teacher-worn microphone that may help?  Reach out to your Teacher for the Deaf for assistance with this.
    • Use captioning in your classroom.  There are many auto-generated captioning options available.  You may find a list on my website
    • Review the child’s schedule.  I have had some students ask to have all of their content classes in the morning, or have them split up so they get breaks in between.

    If you wish to hear more about hearing fatigue from someone who experiences a moderate to severe hearing loss, I encourage you to check out the short video, What is Hearing Fatigue? from the youtube channel, Definite Hearing.

    "Listening Fatigue Within The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Community - Hear For You". Hear For      You, 2020, https://hearforyou.com.au/listening-fatigue-within-the-deaf-and-hard-of-hearing-community/. Accessed 13 Sept 2021.

    2021 Supporting Success for Children with Hearing Loss. Late March Update. Author: Hilary Davis, AuD 

    Youtube.Com, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZOT-Tb7RlM. Accessed 13 Sept 2021.

    Welcome to: - Captioning . (2021). Retrieved 13 September 2021, from




    Tai Botkin, Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearning

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  • Embedded Live Captioning

    Posted by Tai Botkin on 9/29/2021

    Enable Live Caption

    Class is starting and you’ve just found the perfect video to kick off the lesson, or at least it would be if it were already accessible.  Let’s be honest, accessible content makes it better for all of us.  Bryan Carvalho states, “As learners, we all benefit when we can consume content more easily, in different ways, at different times.” (Carvalho, 2020)  This is why I was so excited to see that Live Caption is an accessibility feature now capable on Google Chrome. It enables captioning of all videos!  Simply toggling on this feature in your settings can enhance learning opportunities for your students.  If you need additional assistance try Google Chrome Help

     Carvalho, Bryan. (2020, July 15). How To Make Your Teaching Videos Accessible (and why). Spaces. https://spacesedu.com/how-to-make-your-teaching-videos-accessible-and-why/





    Tai Botkin, Teacher for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing


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