Auditory-Oral Communication

When thinking of education for students who are deaf, people typically assume that sign language is a necessary component.  However, children who have hearing loss often use another method of communication: the auditory-oral communication method.

The Auditory-Oral Communication Method

Early diagnosis of hearing loss is critical.  The earlier the diagnosis, the sooner the child can be fitted with appropriate amplification. There are different levels of hearing loss that range from mild to profound.  With the use of digital hearing aids or cochlear implants, learning spoken language is a realistic goal for students who are deaf.

In auditory-oral communication, children are required to use their residual hearing (the hearing that remains after a person experiences hearing loss) to process, understand, and use spoken language.

Auditory-oral education begins in the home with the family.  The parents are taught how to incorporate listening and spoken language in their daily routines by a teacher of the deaf. In auditory-oral communication, children are required to use their residual hearing (the hearing that remains after a person experiences hearing loss) to process, understand, and use spoken language.

Parents who choose auditory-oral communication for their child may think it’s an easier route than learning sign language.  However, hard work and lots of effort are still required in auditory-oral communication.

While a child with hearing loss might be able to hear speech sounds, whether in isolation or as part of words and sentences, how their brain processes that information is what’s critical.  

The act of hearing is much different than listening.  While a child with hearing loss might be able to hear speech sounds, whether in isolation or as part of words and sentences, how their brain processes that information is what’s critical.  All children are taught to listen, even if they have typical hearing. Listening skills are often taken for granted with a child who has typical hearing, while children with hearing loss have to work hard to access to spoken language and produce intelligible speech.

The Benefit of Auditory-Oral Communication

There are numerous benefits to choosing auditory-oral method of communication. It allows a child with hearing loss to:

  • interact with their family using their native language
  • interact with the general population without the use of an interpreter
  • have greater employment opportunities

As a child who is deaf grows and develops, their educational placement needs to be considered. If a child is on track developmentally and able to attend a preschool with typically developing peers, this communication method may be best. On the other hand, if a child has some delays in their communication skills and need to attend a special program for children who are deaf, another method might be the way to go.

The Goal of Auditory-Oral Communication

The ultimate goal of auditory-oral communication is to have a child who is hard of hearing attend their neighborhood school in a general education setting.  Teachers who teach children who are deaf or hard of hearing in an auditory-oral method believe those children can learn to listen and speak.  Language development and communication skills are an important part of their programming and curriculum.

Teachers who teach children who are deaf or hard of hearing in an auditory-oral method believe those children can learn to listen and speak.  

In order to teach children who are deaf in a public school setting, teachers need a:

  • bachelor’s degree or higher
  • passing score for the state general knowledge test
  • passing score for professional certification exam
  • passing score for the state certification exam for deaf/hard of hearing

While a degree focusing on auditory-oral education specifically is not needed, there are specialized trainings and certifications that are offered throughout the country that focus on listening and spoken language for children with hearing loss. Most of the settings for auditory-oral education will be in public schools, though there are some private schools that offer that type of education as well.

While a degree focusing on auditory-oral education specifically is not needed, there are specialized trainings and certifications that are offered throughout the country that focus on listening and spoken language for children with hearing loss.

Overall, it’s about finding what works best for each individual student and forming a specialized education plan for them. If auditory-oral communication is the best route for a child to take, their teacher should do their best to provide that education for them.