Children's hearings training resource manual: volume 2

Volume 2 is a children's hearings handbook, focusing on the problems that some children face, the environment in which they live, their needs and their rights.

8 Speech and Language : Comprehension and Diversity

As was stated earlier ability and disability may affect communication. There may be difficulties regarding comprehension (understanding of language), and expression (use of language).


It is important to talk in a way which means one is understood. However this process is more complex when communication is affected by disability.

It is helpful if the hearing can get as much information about child's level of understanding from adults involved with child i.e. parents, carers, teachers, auxiliaries/educational psychologist/speech and language therapist. If necessary someone could be asked to come to the hearing to assist with communication, particularly if the child needs an interpreter. Children may get tired/distracted if sitting for more than 10 minutes. It is important to give child time to respond. Adults who come to hearings with children may also have problems with communication and measures should be in place to assist them with communication.

Hearing impairment

Things which may assist comprehension:

  • look directly at person particularly if they use lip-reading
  • slow down rate of speech and don't shout
  • be aware of positioning. If there is light behind the face of the person speaking a lip reader may not be able to follow
  • cut down on background noise and distractions
  • use visual clues. pictures, gestures, facial expression
  • if an interpreter is used, address the person not the interpreter
  • check whether any hearing aids are working
  • use age appropriate language
  • check whether there are any other considerations-visual impairment, learning difficulties.

Visual impairment

Things which may assist comprehension:

  • the person speaking should be in line of sight. The person with visual impairment may have some vision and the speaker's voice should come from in front of them to be natural. It is helpful to think about lighting and positioning. e.g. avoid sitting with the light behind you
  • body language or gestures should still be used even though they cannot be seen as they give depth and colour to what is said and allow for a more natural flow of speech restricting them is unnatural
  • keep distractions to a minimum. There should not be too many voices coming from different directions
  • use age appropriate language

Hearing impaired

  • check whether the child has understood what has been said, if not re-ask the question
  • check all distractions. people/ noise- are they as minimal as possible?
  • check whether the hearing has the child's attention
  • ensure the child has ways of verifying what has been said
  • child's speech may be unclear, is there someone present who is familiar with their speech and can clarify or interpret
  • do you need interpretation of signing/symbols if signing/symbols is used?
  • check whether the child has understood what has been said, if not re-ask the question
  • check all distractions. people/noise are as minimal as possible


Back to top