How to address your hearing loss at school

As summer winds to a close, students are returning to the classroom. Starting a new school year can be difficult, with different environments, classmates, and teachers. Here are a few ways to address your hearing loss at school and make the transition easier!


Send an Email Introduction

A convenient way to address your hearing loss at school is to let your teachers know through an email. If you have an IEP or 504 plan, they will receive information about your accommodations before school starts. However, it is a good idea to reach out directly as well. Make sure you do this well in advance of the first day.

Start the email with a brief introduction. This is also a great chance to start a conversation with your teacher. Explain your hearing loss and some strategies you employ. Mention what hearing devices you use. This is especially important if they are devices that the teacher or other students need to wear or pass around. You can directly list accommodations you find helpful. Some examples include:

  • Preferential seating near the front of the class
  • Extended time on tests or quizzes
  • Captioning on videos shown in class
  • Written instructions on classwork and homework

Think about modifications in other classrooms you have made and incorporate them in the email. At the end of the email, thank them and sign off with your name and class.

Watch: A Back to School message from Phonak 

Utilize Office Hours

If you don’t feel comfortable cold emailing your teachers before the start of school, there are other options. If you have a resource room teacher, enlist their help. Or set up an in person meeting. Better yet, send an introductory email and follow up after the first week of school, either by email or in person.

Take the first week of school to adjust to your new environment. Make notes about any difficulties you encounter and figure out what, if anything, you still need. If you want to discuss this list in person, set up an appointment or visit during office hours.

Be Upfront About Your Hearing Loss

On the first day of school, many teachers will use icebreakers to allow students to get acquainted. A great way to let your classmates know about your hearing loss is to incorporate it in the icebreaker if possible. Your hearing loss can be integrated as a fun fact about yourself. Or if everyone introduces themselves, give a quick description when it’s your turn. That way you don’t have to worry about getting weird looks about any of your accommodations or having to repeat the same information to individual classmates. They might even offer to help once they know!

“A great way to let your classmates know about your hearing loss is to incorporate it in the icebreaker if possible.”

You could even give a presentation for your classmates (this might be easier in elementary school).

Phonak has provided Powerpoint presentation templates that make it easy to explain hearing loss at school. There is a Powerpoint for elementary-age students and middle-and-high school students. The presentations can help explain your hearing loss, display your devices, and talk about your needs.

Read more: These PowerPoint presentations make it easy to explain hearing loss at school

Display Your Hearing Devices Proudly

Another handy method to signal your hearing loss is to display the hearing devices you use. When starting a new school year, I purposefully wear my hair in a ponytail so my hearing aids are clearly visible. It is a great conversation starter. It also lets those around me know without my having to announce it out loud.

Read more: SweetHearts’ braids makes hearing aids shine

Advocate for Yourself

Advocating for yourself is a must. It might be difficult in the beginning in a new environment with unfamiliar people. But it pays off in the long term. If you need certain accommodations, have them implemented as early on as possible. This makes it easier for your peers and teachers to adjust to as well.

Read more: Teens with hearing loss: How to be an advocate for your education

Always keep in mind that everyone is ready to help out! Most teachers have had students with special needs in their classes. The hardest part is taking the first step to reach out.

Deaflympics athlete Boon Wei Ying

Deaflympics athlete Boon Wei Ying has been awarded several medals at the Deaflympics by performing in her favorite sport of badminton.

Badminton Background

Now 27 years old, Deaflympics athlete Boon Wei Ying was interested in playing badminton at the age of eight. Though a challenging sport, she finds happiness in the game. “I find badminton interesting and exciting because it requires the coordination of our body and mind during the games,” she says.

“I find badminton interesting and exciting because it requires the coordination of our body and mind during the games.”

It was Wei Ying‘s audiologist who brought to her attention that badminton was a popular sport among deaf athletes. He introduced her to another deaf badminton player around that time. This led her to play in her first national championship in 2015, through the Federal Territory Deaf Sports Association. From this experience, Wei Ying learned about other deaf athletic championships – the Asia Pacific Deaf Games/Championship, World Deaf Championship, and Deaflympics.

She won her first ever national prize in 2015. She then was selected to be on the Malaysia badminton team for Asia Pacific Deaf Games in Taoyuan, Taiwan 2015. Her next stop was in Samsun, Turkey in 2017, where she competed successfully. In 2022, she competed in Caxias do Sul, Rio and added more medals to her collection.

Competing in both singles and doubles matches, she has performed well. In the 2017 Summer Deaflympics, she was awarded a silver medal. In the 2022 Summer Deaflympics, she won gold, silver, and bronze medals. For 21 years, Malaysians hadn’t won a gold medal in badminton Deaflympics until she brought home the gold.


Wei Ying fits in her training for badminton in after work and during the days she has off. Her typical day starts with working 9 am to 6 pm. Then she finishes her evening by training from 7 pm to 9 pm. Wei Ying is grateful for her friends and family. From treating her to delicious food after a tournament to giving her words of affirmation, she feels uplifted by those in her life. “They always support me unconditionally, especially whenever I lack confidence,” she says. “They will talk to me, motivate, and encourage me.”

A graduate of the University of Malaya, Wei Ying earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sports Science. In her spare time, she likes to watch television or movies. Unsurprisingly, her absolute favorite hobby to participate in is badminton, which she plays with her family and friends.

Read more: Deaflympics Gold medalist Ashley Derrington

Wei Ying’s Hearing Loss Story

Wei Ying’s story of hearing loss begins in high school when she was close to 15 years of age. Her teacher recognized she was lacking full attention in class and wasn’t answering when asked a question. This sparked the teacher to be curious if something was up. Wei Ying’s family noticed similar trends at home. That prodded her father to recommend a hearing evaluation. This is when they found out Wei Ying had hearing loss and needed hearing aids.

As a young adult who learned about her recent onset of hearing loss, Wei Ying had to find self-acceptance.  “At the beginning, I was very reluctant to tell my friends that I was diagnosed with hearing loss, worrying that they would unfriend or discriminate against me,” she says. “Fortunately, they accepted it, motivate and encourage me a lot, which I think that helped me a lot.” It helps that her family and friends were patient when she asked them to repeat things.

Wei Ying has upheld a positive perspective in life that encourages others to succeed. “I’ve learned that we must appreciate what we have in our life, and we should not give up easily on any challenges,” she says. “Besides, the support and encouragement from people around us plays a very important role in helping us to overcome any challenges.”

The Best Inventions of 2022 – Phonak Audéo Fit

Hearing aids are often stigmatized as a device for the old or infirm. But the latest hearing aids are anything but old–fashioned: they’re teched out with AI, fitness trackers, streaming capability, and more. Now Phonak is out with the first commercially available hearing aid with a heart-rate sensor. Audéo Fit’s receiver-in-canal device tracks fitness data, such as steps, activity level, and distance walked, while also monitoring the wearer’s heart rate when paired with the MyPhonak app. Currently available through licensed hearing–care providers, Audéo Fit pairs with up to eight Bluetooth devices, including smartphones and TVs.

One of Phonak’s most innovative designs, the Audéo Fit goes beyond hearing improvement and brings a more holistic health functionality to your hearing aids.

  • Build healthy habits by tracking distance and steps, activity levels, average wearing time, and heart rate in the myPhonak app*
  • Connect to smartphones, TV, Roger™ devices, and more with Bluetooth® connectivity
  • Unrivaled sound quality**, crisp natural sound, and brilliant speech understanding
  • Includes two performance levels to best suit your lifestyle needs: Premium (P90) and Advanced (P70)

Benefits of health data tracking*

Tracking physical activity can motivate you to engage more with your health. When Audéo Fit is paired with the myPhonak app, it can track and display your live heart rate, resting heart rate, and an overview of your heart rate on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.* Lower resting heart rate is linked to better health over the long-term.

When paired with the myPhonak app, Audéo Fit enables fitness tracking at your fingertips by tracking activities such as:
  • Heart rate
  • Steps taken and distance walked or ran
  • Customizable goals

A study debunks how hearing works

How We Thought Hearing Works

The way we hear is made up of a variety of mechanisms. Researchers from Linköping University explain these mechanisms in a SciTechDaily article. We’ve previously believed that those mechanisms were not so interconnected but rather more unique, and separate. For example, we’ve believed hearing to consist of sensory cells in the ear, with each cell having its own unique “optimal frequency.” What this means is that each sensory cell was said to have a different number of sound waves per second (frequency). Those sound waves or frequencies then prompt a reaction from the hair cell in the ear. While there are still separate mechanisms that help us hear, certain processes may be more interconnected than once believed.
Another widely held belief of hearing is that different parts of the tiny bone shaped structure of our ear, the cochlea, had similar functions. However, the  researchers behind this study discovered what we’ve believed for years might not actually be the case. After all, more and more research has been coming out on new information regarding the cochlea.

Read more: Researchers prove accessibility of the cochlea

The Study

Researchers set out to fill a gap that hasn’t yet been widely studied. Not much was known on how regions in the cochlea that encode sounds of low frequency worked. Researchers used the cochlea of guinea pigs with similar hearing capabilities, particularly in lower frequencies to humans. They used pure tone stimuli that only consisted of one frequency, and studied how responses were carried out. However, they explain that even though only one frequency was used, sounds naturally produce different frequencies. They discuss in depth how responses to this frequency can be changed by the auditory neurons that exist from the brain-stem to the cortex.


The findings from this study are remarkable. They show there are actually numerous cells within the inner ear that react to low frequency sounds all at once. For frequencies of less than 1,000 Hz, many cells are reacting together as opposed to separately as previously believed. Sounds in the low frequency category include vowel sounds of verbal speech, middle C on the piano, etc.

[The findings] show there are actually numerous cells within the inner ear that react to low frequency sounds all at once.

What This Means for the Future

These incredible findings have the potential to advance the field of hearing loss and hearing care. More specifically, researchers believe this could be a major headway into improving the design and function of cochlear implants. Currently cochlear implants are designed based off what was previously believed: that each cell has its own frequencies. Therefore, cochlear implants are structured for each individual electrode to stimulate the nerve at specific frequencies.
Based on the findings, researchers suggest implementing a new design. Anders Fridberger, professor from Linköping University told SciTechDaily, “The design of current cochlear implants is based on the assumption that each electrode should only give nerve stimulation at certain frequencies, in a way that tries to copy what was believed about the function of our hearing system. We suggest that changing the stimulation method at low frequencies will be more similar to the natural stimulation, and the hearing experience of the user should in this way be improved.”

Hearing loss and autism spectrum disorder

A collaborative study by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has found a link between hearing loss and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Individuals who are on the autistic spectrum usually have an increased sensitivity to sounds. Researchers have been looking into the explanation of why this is occurring. Previous studies looked at neural pathways in the brain to see if there was a connection between ASD and hearing sensitivity. Up until now, they hadn’t found much of a potential link.


Prior to discovering a link between hearing loss and autism spectrum disorder, ASD patients were found to have hearing loss. However, hearing loss in ASD patients leads to an increased, over-stimulation of the senses. Sometimes this intense input of sound can be uncomfortable and overwhelming. How could this hearing loss end up causing an over amplification of sounds?

An interesting, proposed phenomenon, called central gain, is an adaptive response due to decreased auditory input. When the auditory stimulation is lowered, this theory suggests that the body increases neuronal gain. This neuronal gain usually results in excessive sound stimulation that can be both painful and unpleasant.

Hainan Lang, M.D., Ph.D, professor of Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, wanted to find out if this central gain could be causing the brain to respond incorrectly in ASD individuals. He approached this by stating, “We didn’t have a clinically relevant model to directly test this important fundamental question.”

Read more: How to support a child with ASD and hearing loss


This study is powerful as it was a collaboration between the Department of Neuroscience, the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and the Hearing Research Program at MUSC. These departments came together with their knowledge in genetics and cell biology. Dr. Lang was able to partner with Christopher Cowan, Ph.D., chair of Neuroscience, to test her preclinical model. Dr. Cowan’s lab had been testing mice with a very specific gene, MEF2C. In typical neurodevelopment, there are two functional copies of this gene. MEF2C is a transcription factor that aids in development of multiple body systems, such as the heart, brain, immune, and vascular systems.

Dr. Cowan’s lab was looking at this gene to see its implementation in brain development. Their lab had noticed symptoms that were like ASD behaviors, such as repetitive actions and hyperactivity. They appeared when there was only one functional copy of MEF2C. This became even more interesting when mice with one functional copy of MEF2C also had mild hearing loss.

Noting that there was a potential link between hearing loss and autism spectrum disorder, the team began to investigate further. The researchers found that the activity of the auditory nerve was decreased in these mice who had one functional copy of MEF2C. They even recognized that this hearing loss was very similar to the degeneration of hearing that occurs with increased age.

Hearing Loss and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Study Conclusion

But why was there a reduction in functionality of the auditory nerve? The study concluded that there was increased inflammation around the nerves, vascular degeneration, and immune cell activation. These specific factors caused destruction of the auditory nerve, leading to hearing loss.

“Now we understand that auditory nerve activity can also involve the immune system, and that’s the beautiful new direction we want to continue to study,” Dr. Lang said.

“Now we understand that auditory nerve activity can also involve the immune system, and that’s the beautiful new direction we want to continue to study.”

With these new findings, researchers can continue to investigate the link between hearing loss and autism spectrum disorder. This study helps researchers better understand the MEF2C gene’s role in development and gives a more accurate picture of what is causing the hearing symptoms.