Q&A: Tips for heading back to school with hearing loss

A little over a month ago, we had the great fortune to spend the day with Wisconsin native Landon Potter, 14. Landon’s mom, Joyce, had entered our May Better Hearing Month contest on behalf of Landon, and on June 30, we invited them both to come to our Minnesota headquarters to have Landon fit with some new hearing aids. During that visit, Landon and I got to talking about some of the struggles he faces at school and how to overcome them.

A talented lacrosse player and dedicated student, Landon provided some great tips to help kids with hearing loss succeed in school!

What if I can’t hear my teacher?

“I try to sit next to somebody I know and try to sit as close to the front as possible.”

What if I am studying a foreign language?

“Some are hard, and some are easy. I took German, Mandarin and Spanish last year. German was the easiest because it had less accents to worry about, but Mandarin was the hardest for me. Some things that helped were having the professor slow down while talking, space out her words and repeat words multiple times. I also practiced a lot.” 

Bonus tip: Another tip was shared with Landon during his fitting by another hearing aid wearer and Starkey employee, Trevor. Trevor, who is fluent in German and proficient in Armenian and Korean, said watching TV shows and music videos in the language you are learning—with both audio and captions on—really helps to associate the specific sounds and words you are learning.

What if it gets too loud—like at lunch or in homeroom?

“It can get really loud at lunchtime, so I just turn the volume down on my hearing aids. I also sit with a close group of friends who know I have my hearing loss and can help when necessary.” 

What if I miss things when taking notes?

“Take as many notes as you can and then check in with a friend to see if you missed anything.” 

*NOTE: some schools offer assistance programs through the school’s administrative or disability office and can work with you to provide a note taker for class.

What if I miss an assignment?

“I’ve missed assignments before and not realized it until the day it was due. I just didn’t hear it announced at the end of the class. Now, some teachers are better and write it down on the board or it’s on a computer system.” 

Bonus tip: If you think you’re missing out on important announcements in class, like assignments or upcoming test dates, try asking your teacher if they can try to write assignments and important announcements on the board for everyone to see. Also, checking in with your teacher at the end of class is an easy way to make sure you didn’t miss anything important. 

What if I play sports?

“More hand signals for players would be helpful versus yelling, especially during a game. You can also look to other players for direction during practice.” 

Bonus tips: During team huddles and meetings, try to be as close to the coach as possible so you don’t miss anything and ask a friend to help you hear for anything important—those team huddles can get rowdy and loud! Also, if it’s windy outside, ask your coach if end of practice or pre-game strategy meetings can be held inside. This way you don’t miss anything and nobody else does either! Finally, your coach can best help you if he or she understands your needs. While you might not be comfortable yet talking to the coach about your hearing loss or hearing aids, doing so can really go a long way in helping them help you enjoy and succeed with your sport. 

If you have some other tips for back to school, share them on our Facebook page here. Thanks for letting us spend the day with you Landon, and best of luck on your first day of high school! 

On a final note, here’s what we heard from Landon’s mom after just a few weeks wearing his Halo 2 hearing aids!

Landon is doing great. He enjoys the clarity that he receives from the Starkey hearing aids. He recently played in a tournament that required him to participate in what’s called a face off position. It requires him to react to the referee’s whistle. Prior to receiving his hearing aids, he struggled to hear the whistle blow. This last tournament he could hear perfectly and performed, as well as won the face off. Very exciting.”


By Sarah Bricker