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We typically learn many early reading concepts through what we hear, but also what we can touch, see, and manipulate. Students may have hearing loss, Auditory Processing disorder, or difficulty with spoken language as a result of a broader neurological or developmental condition. Students with hearing loss can lack critical early learning experiences and accordingly may have difficulty developing foundational phonological skills.
Hearing is measured as the ability to hear sounds in the typical human range of approximately 20 - 20,000 Hz. Hearing loss typically impacts high frequency speech sounds (e.g., /sh/, /s/, /f/, /th/) more than other frequencies. However, students with auditory processing disorder may not have hearing loss, but still struggle with understanding the content and context of spoken language.
Students with hearing loss may learn sign language as their primary communicative language or as supportive communication access. Because hearing loss and other auditory processing issues sometimes take upwards of 5 years to diagnose, students with hearing loss are vulnerable to missing sensitive windows for development that can make some concepts harder to grasp. Hearing aids and cochlear implants do not always completely restore hearing or support full language comprehension. Approximately 77% of deaf students are learning in general education classrooms, so steps should be taken to ensure that their learning environment accommodates any Hearing-related needs to ensure language skills do not impact other academic skills.
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