Top 3 Things NOT to do with an FM System

Do students with a hearing-loss still use F.M. systems in classes? Or is there an app for that now these days? I am only half-kidding with that remark!

For those who may not be familiar with it, this is essentially how an F.M. system works: There is a transmitter and a receiver. On the receiving end is the student who usually wears a little add-on piece that attaches to the hearing-aid. On the transmitter end is a device that can can resemble a microphone and is either clipped onto the teacher, or is placed near the area where people are talking.
Some people may be wondering, well if you have a hearing-aid isn't that enough? Ultimately what is considered to be 'enough' will depend on the student's hearing-loss. For me it wasn't enough because in a classroom setting there are chairs squeaking against tile floors, there are lights humming, radiators blasting, pencil sharpeners churning, lockers slamming, and of course -- other students making their own thousands of noises! (It's really shocking how much noise one 7 year old can make if you give her a pencil, never mind a classroom of 21 others!) A hearing-aid will pick-up on all of these sounds and it goes into the student's ear; so by the time the teacher speaks, his or her voice may be all but drowned out or muffled at best.

With the added use of an F.M. system the voice(s) that need to be most 'focused' on is then better able to be funneled directly to the student via the transmitter. But of course when you give a child any piece of technology or adaptive equipment... in the eyes of a child/student its uses can transmit much much more than just the voice of a teacher, or that group discussion. Here are a few things to NOT do from my own wonderful life experience:

1. Don't leave it in the bathroom. 
In middle school was the time when I first experienced classroom changes. For each subject we had we would have to go to a different classroom, and during that 4 or 5 min transition girls would gab in the bathroom together. I was, of course, barely responsible enough to remember my own homework so giving me the responsibility of taking the microphone from one teacher to the next was a lot. Often I would absentmindedly leave the microphone on the sink in the girls bathroom and then go off to Social Studies class, then suddenly be terribly embarrassed when I heard a toilet *swoosh, flush*

2. Don't ask your teacher about that private conversation.
A common happening with the F.M. system is that it forgets to be turned off. I can't even begin to tell you how many private conversations I accidentally was 'looped into' because my teacher forgot to turn it off, or take off the microphone. Does she really think Stephen peed his pants? Does he really think that Megan's mother is the most annoying ever? Does the lunch lady really despise watching the classroom? Was the bus driver really smoking on the playground? Avoid repeating these stories if you want to avoid awkward moments... for everyone involved.

3. Don't say "said" when the teacher says "Repeat what I said." 
Unless of course you have a teacher who has any sense of humor! I may have mentioned this before but paying-attention is not my greatest strength.. which of course doesn't really help the whole hard-of-hearing-student bit. Often teachers weren't sure if I had just not heard what they were saying, or maybe the F.M. system was malfunctioning, or maybe ...I was just spacing out again and chatting with my friends. I even had lots of crafty teachers who had caught on to my ability to lipread, so to test the F.M. system functioning they would turn away and whisper quietly into the mic so only I could hear, "Sandy if you hear this and if you're paying attention you can have a gumdrop from my desk.." Then they would turn back to the class and call on me "Sandy, repeat what I just said." And 7 times out of 10 I was probably not paying attention and would guiltily say... "...said?" 

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