July 24, 2020 | By NACE Staff
TAGS: best practices, operations, diversity and inclusion, students with disabilities, nace insights, coronavirus
Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
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The challenges that students with hearing loss may face during their career explorations and job searches may be exacerbated during this pandemic, with requirements for wearing masks and physically distancing.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has identified these issues and provides guidance for overcoming them. ASHA has compiled resources in response to its members’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including resources that might be helpful for career services practitioners working with college students and URR professionals recruiting them. For example, ASHA recommends using clear face masks during in-person interactions.
“When students with hearing loss require an in-person meeting, having clear masks available so that the student has access to visual cues during your communication will be very helpful,” says Paul K. Farrell, Au.D., CCC-A, associate director, ASHA audiology practices.
The recommended use of clear face masks is a practice ASHA recently promoted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends the use of face masks and solid cloth coverings to limit the spread of viral pathogens. ASHA points out that while necessary to contain COVID-19, face mask usage can pose significant everyday challenges for people with communication disorders, potentially impacting their health, safety, and quality of life.
At least 46 million people in the United States have a hearing or other communication disorder, underscoring this as a pressing public health issue, ASHA notes. In its letter to the CDC in early June, the association urged the CDC to revise its recommendations to emphasize the need for clear face masks and the use of other communication aids as resources that should be widely available. The CDC has since modified its guidelines on “Considerations for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings” to include clear face coverings under the “Feasibility and Adaptation” section.
Wearing cloth masks, which has become the new normal in most states, can cause a breakdown in communication and can negatively affect communication by:
“Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may rely on visual cues to be able to better understand what is said and also clue in on the speaker’s emotions,” says Regina E. Zappi, Au.D., CCC-A, associate director, ASHA audiology practices.
While ASHA recommends using a clear face mask for face-to-face interactions during the pandemic, the association provides the following tips to bolster communication while wearing any type of mask:
The pandemic has also created and increased opportunities to use virtual communication platforms like Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime that allow full access to facial cues, clearer voice quality, and use of interpreter services. ASHA offers several suggestions that may be helpful when using virtual platforms with students who have hearing loss:
“Consider using real-time captioning during video conferencing, interpreter services, and hearing assistive technologies to ensure that students with hearing loss have full access to your communication encounter,” Dr. Zappi says.
“It is important to determine which type of access a student needs in order to communicate effectively virtually.”
During classroom instruction, which may include presentations by career services staff and/or recruiters, FM systems may be used to provide students with hearing loss and wearing hearing aids, direct access to the information through a microphone worn by the presenter that goes directly into the student’s hearing devices. Depending on the student’s communication needs, an FM system may be supplemented with an interpreter or captioning.
“If students are being seated further from each other in the classroom in order to physically distance, it will become harder to hear the teacher,” Dr. Zappi points out.
“A sound field FM system will benefit all the students in the classroom and will help the [presenter conserve his or her] voice.”
Other strategies ASHA offers for effectively working with students with hearing loss in a classroom setting include:
“Also, check in with the student,” Dr. Farrell continues.
“If you are switching between on-campus and virtual classes, make sure to check in with the student to see if the new way of learning is working for them. They may need some extra help.”
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