Flexible Placement for Children Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

​​​​​Many factors need to be considered when selecting educational placements for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. School placement needs to support a child's learning and social development. Different settings accomplish these goals for individual children. 

Depending on where you live, you may have various educational placement options for your child.  Here are some examples of different placements ​

Girls looking at teacher holding bookChildren watching teacher read bookChild with cochlear implant watching sign language Classroom kids looking at teacher and sign language interpreter
​Special classroom for children who are D/HH may include hearing peers.​Regular classroom setting often includes supports like hearing assistance technology (HAT) & services of a speech pathologist or teacher of D/HH).​Regular classroom may provide special supports (e.g., sign interpreter, captioning, hearing assistance technology, speech pathologist and/or teacher of the D/HH). ​Self-contained classrooms in a school for the Deaf or other programs may provide sign language access.


Your Placement 

Some of the key school placement factors are: 

  • Child's current speech and language abilities 
  • Academic readiness 
  • Socialization abilities and needs 
  • Auditory abilities 
  • Visual abilities 
  • Communication access needs (e.g., spoken language, sign language, cued speech) 
  • Support needs (what supports are needed to ensure success in the classroom environment?) 
  • Available class sizes & teacher characteristics 
  • Classroom characteristics  

Educational placements range from full time inclusion in regular classrooms, part-time inclusion in a regular classroom with part-time special classes, inclusion in a special class focusing on spoken language, inclusion in a regular classroom with a sign language interpreter, or enrollment in a school for deaf children, or other combinations, depending on the needs that parents and educational team see.​

An important point is that you might try a placement and find out that it is not supporting the child in the way the team envisioned.  The team can explore other placement options – this flexibility helps you find a good match between the child's needs and the educational environment.   

A child who receives one kind of program, but doesn't learn as successfully as parents and teachers had hoped, may make wonderful progress by changing to a different kind of program. 

Resources on Educational Placements from Parent Perspectives

Deciding if my child is ready for a regular school 

Is Your Child Ready for a Mainstream School? A Checklist* 

*The information in this final section was originally developed by a team that created a website for families focused on “raising deaf kids”​ (See About Us). Minor edits may have been made. 

Use this checklist to see if your child is ready for the mainstream. 

Are you thinking about sending your child to a mainstream school? Going to a school with mostly hearing children can have its rewards. It can also be tough. Before you make your final decision, ask yourself if this is the right choice for your child: 

  • Is your child ready to go to a school where she may be the only student who is deaf or hard of hearing (DHH)? 
  • Is the school ready and willing to help your child learn? 
  • Are you ready to help your child with any problems that may come up? 

Use this checklist to see if you and your child are ready for the mainstream. You don't have to have all the points on the list. However, the more you have, the better the chances are that your child will do well in school. 

Your child may do better in the mainstream if she: 

  • Knows how well she can communicate with other people. 
    Your child will be in classes with mainly hearing people. Does she know various ways she can communicate with hearing people? If she does, she can try flexible ways to communicate with classmates and others. 

  • Can use her hearing technologies (hearing aids, cochlear implants, remote microphone technologies) on her own. 
    Your child should know how to keep them on. And she should be able to tell when they're not working. That way, she can tell the teacher when there's a problem. 

  • Can ask for help in class. 
    Your child may be the only student who is DHH in the class, and the teacher may not understand what kind of helps she needs. It will be up to your child to ask for this help. This could be anything that will help her learn - from asking for the teacher's notes, to getting extra help after school, to setting up a study group. 

  • Can work with an interpreter well, if she uses one. 
    This means paying attention to the interpreter, and what's going on in class. It may be hard, but the interpreter may be your child's only way of understanding what's being taught. 

  • Gets along with other children well and can make friends.
    This is important, especially if your child is one of the few students who are DHH in her school. If the other children are shy about talking to a person who is DHH, she may have to be the one to go up to them.  

  • Feels good about herself.  
    Your child may be the only child who is DHH in her school. She may feel different from all the other students. If she feels good about herself, she'll see being different as a good thing, instead of a limitation. 

  • Has deaf role models and friends.  
    Your child can look to her friends and role models for help if she has problems at school. 

  • Is willing to work hard.  
    A different school may be harder than the school your child has been going to. She may have to work extra hard to keep up or to catch up. 

Your child may do better in the mainstream if her school has: 

  • Had other children who are DHH.
    If the school has had other students who are DHH, the staff may know what help these students need. This can make it easier to get the same kind of help for your child. 

  • People who can help your child if her hearing aid, cochlear implant or RM (remote microphone) system stops working. 
    If your child's hearing aid stops working all of a sudden, what will she do? Getting sent to the library for the rest of the day would be a waste of time. If her school has someone on staff to help her, she can keep going to class. 

  • A teacher in your child's grade who has had students who are DHH in his class before. 
    A teacher who has taught students who are DHH before could be a big help. He may know what kind of extra help students who are DHH need. He may be more prepared to help your child. 

  • A psychologist or social worker that has worked with children who are DHH before. 
    Many schools may not have these kinds of people on staff. Having one can help a lot if your child is having trouble in school. 

  • An IEP team that has worked with other children who are DHH. This IEP team would have a better idea of what kinds of help students who are DHH need. They will know how to set goals for these children. 

  • Classrooms that don't echo a lot. 
    Noisy classrooms can be a big distraction, especially to someone using hearing aids or cochlear implants. Putting down carpet and padding the bottoms of chair legs and desk can make a room quieter. 

  • Educational interpreters. 
    If the school already knows of trained interpreters who can work with your child, it should be easier for your child to get an interpreter if your child signs. 

Your child may do better in the mainstream if you and your family: 

  • Can talk or sign with your child well enough to help her through getting used to a new school. 
    Going to a new school can be lonely at first. Your child will probably need your help in getting through it. Make sure you're there for her. ​