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Teaching Hearing-Impaired Students

A woman with a hearing impairment has approached me to say that she would like to join my class—and that she would feel more comfortable if she were able to read my lips as well as use her hearing aid. Do you have any suggestions on how to best integrate her into a class?

Read Aadil Palkhivala's reply:

Dear Arlene,

I have many students with serious hearing impairments, and I place them in the front of the room. I am conscious to articulate my speech very carefully and clearly whenever they are in class, and I make a particular effort to look at them while I am talking so that they can see my lips. The situation simply requires you to be more conscious and careful of your position in the room.

It is also best to look at the hearing-impaired student after each major teaching, to check her face for understanding. If she's wearing a puzzled look, repeat yourself.

While doing Savasana (Corpse Pose) in particular, I ask my hearing-impaired students to do the pose with their heads very close to mine so that they can hear more clearly (since they cannot lip-read in Savasana). I tell them in advance that I will gently touch them to let them know when Savasana is over. This way, they are not worried that they will miss the end and be embarrassed by remaining supine when others have risen.

In short, you will need to remind yourself to become more alert and more sensitive when teaching hearing-impaired students.

Recognized as one of the world's top yoga teachers, Aadil Palkhivala began studying yoga at the age of seven with B.K.S. Iyengar and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's yoga three years later. He received the Advanced Yoga Teacher's Certificate at the age of 22 and is the founder-director of internationally-renowned Yoga Centers™ in Bellevue, Washington. Aadil is the director of the College of Purna Yoga, a 1,700 hour Washington-state licensed and certified teacher training program. He is also a federally certified naturopath, a certified ayurveda">Ayurvedic health science practitioner, a clinical hypnotherapist, a certified shiatsu and Swedish bodywork therapist, a lawyer, and an internationally sponsored public speaker on the mind-body-energy connection.

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Reader Comments


I am hearing paired and have gone to yoga classes for many years. I have found teachers to be insensitive when I tell them. So I usually don't and I follow along as best I can. It is also hard to balance and I find that instructors get impatient. Having said all of this I still attend. I have developed thicker skin. I love yoga.

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