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Group Work/Discussions Case Study

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Melissa and Group Work/Discussions: A Case Study on Accommodations for Hearing Impairments

My name is Melissa. I am a pre-education major who is hard of hearing. I wear a hearing aid. One of my introductory education classes requires small group discussion and projects as essential parts of the course.

Access Issue
I do fine in one-on-one conversations, but in small groups I have trouble hearing the instructor and all members of the group at all times. With other conversations going on in the room, I am not able to clearly and consistently hear the members in my group.

I contacted the disabled student services office and described my access issue to a counselor. They provided me with an FM amplification system to use during the discussions. With this system, the speaker is provided with a microphone and the sound is transmitted through a receiver directly to my hearing aid. This eliminates a lot of the background noise. When our group met for the first time, I explained how the FM system worked. The group consisted of five people. As each member spoke, the microphone was passed to each person. Although it was awkward for group members in the beginning, group members adjusted their communication styles and used the system without difficulty as the semester progressed.

This case study illustrates how:

  1. Technology can be used to provide access to group discussions for students with hearing impairments.

  2. Students can advocate for themselves and initiate the accommodation process.

  3. Some accommodations require the support of other students in order to be effective.