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Hearing Loss and Fatigue

Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind individuals can experience fatigue when using residual hearing to communicate because of mental and auditory resources used to attend to listening tasks. The more distracting the background noises, the more mental and auditory resources are needed, and the more fatigue increases. As well, working through another language, such as American Sign Language to understand and follow English, can be mentally exhausting. Fatigue can cause the following problems for Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind students:

      • Stress, long-term, can cause an increase in the likeness of getting illnesses.
      • Higher rates of absenteeism.
      • Loss of concentration/distractibility.
      • Reduced mental processing and decision-making capabilities.
      • Less productive in classroom discussions and for assignments, leading to poorer grades or failure.

    For more information on the topic related to student fatigue please check our webinar held in March 2020 followed by a Q&A session.

    Professors can do the following:

          • Exercise turn taking in class through raising of the hand and ensure that the person has been acknowledged before he/she starts to speak.
          • Provide preferential seating in the classroom if requested
          • Provide notes in class or place notes in LMS to be downloaded by students
          • Provide written information on assignments, either in class or to be downloaded from an LMS.

    Related article by NATALIA ROHATYN-MARTIN "Answering questions about inclusion in schools needs to involve students"

    • Less active social life and more prone to being socially isolated.

Due to fatigue, Deaf, hard of hearing, and DeafBlind students will begin to ‘tune out’and cease to follow a conversation or classroom lecture. Feelings of social embarrassment can lead to students ‘faking’their understanding of what is happening around them.

Students can do the following:

  • Admit to fatigue. It is a natural consequence of attending to your surroundings and to the concentration needed to communicate. It is nothing to be ashamed of and should never lead to you pretending to understand, i.e. ‘faking it.’ Faking understanding is ultimately detrimental to your social life, your education, and your working career.
  • Learn coping strategies to deal with your fatigue. E.g. physical exercise, meditation, getting enough rest, taking time to deliberately ‘tune out’, admitting when crowded coffee shops, and/or bars are not the best place to try to communicate, making sure hearing aids and cochlear implants are properly programmed, etc

Webinar on Student Fatigue with Natalia Rohatyn-Martin

Checklist of Fatigue Symptoms.

Understanding Cognitive and Physical Fatigue in Diverse Classrooms