Radio aids – optimising listening opportunities: Guide

Gill Weston, Pauline Cobbold, Cate Statham and Helen Maiden with contributions by James Mander, Gary Webster and Brian Copsey | View as single page | Feedback/Impact

Use in Educational Settings

Hearing loss in the classroom  is a video that demonstrates the effect of using a radio aid in the classroom.

Before the lesson begins

  1. Ensure teacher is wearing transmitter and it is charged and switched on.
  2. Ensure pupil is wearing receivers and they are connected correctly.
  3. Check that the microphone is in the correct position - 15 cm from mouth.
  4. Discreetly check with the pupil that the system is working.
  5. If using more than one transmitter, check the others are working too.
  6. Connect to soundfield system if using one.

During the lesson

  1. Hearing-impaired pupils still need to see your face while you are talking.  Avoid being in shadow as this makes lip reading difficult.
  2. Only one person should speak at a time.
  3. Pupils contributing to the lesson should use the transmitter.  If this is not possible the teacher should repeat the contribution to ensure the hearing-impaired pupil has heard clearly.
  4. Mute the microphone when not talking to the HI pupil, to avoid them overhearing irrelevant topics or coursework.
  5. If appropriate, pass the transmitter to other pupils for small group work.
  6. Keep background noise to a minimum.  The noise will still be picked up by the microphones on the child's hearing aids and conflict with your voice.

Ten Top Tips for mainstream teachers using a radio aid transmitter in the classroom  This is downloadable as a PDF

  1. Switch the transmitter on when talking to the whole class or group in which the deaf child is taking part
  2. Remember to switch the transmitter off if you or the child leaves the room.  Otherwise the child will still be able to hear you or there may be interference as the receivers try to ‘find’ the transmitter.
  3. Help the child to choose an appropriate place to sit without unnecessary disturbances or distractions.
  4. If using a soundfield system along with the radio aid, make sure both are working and that they are connected to each other.
  5. Test the range of the radio aid system with the child so you can be sure that they can always hear you and so that you are aware of any limitations in your classroom.
  6. Switch the radio aid off, or mute the microphone/transmitter, if you go to speak to a group of other children which does not include the deaf child, or when having a conversation that the deaf pupil doesn’t need to hear (the signal can travel some distance and even through walls), when going on a comfort break or when leaving the classroom.
  7. Avoid standing in a noisy place, close to any noisy equipment or near an open window, as the microphone can pick up background noise and transmit this to the deaf child
  8. Avoid letting the microphone knock against your clothing or jewellery as this will create noise through the system, this can affect the child's listening skills if this happens often.  They stop listening and the effectiveness of the system diminishes.
  9. Remember to put equipment on charge at the end of the day, even if it has not been used for every session that day.  It is more effective to charge equipment routinely every night rather than ‘only when it needs to be’.  This could also can result in it not being charged ready for the morning or running out of power in the middle of the day!  
  10. Remember not to go home wearing the radio aid transmitter (it is surprisingly easy to do).

(Adapted from the NDCS booklet - ‘How radio aids can help - A guide for families’)

Oticon Foundation report

In the Oticon Foundation Report - Study of FM in Real World Settings(2012) Wendy McCracken and others investigate the ‘real world’ use of radio aids, with a mixture of scientific measurements and the views of teachers and pupils.