Thursday, December 19, 2013

Maximize FM Use

So, you went out and introduced yourself to everyone in the schools where you work, right? Perfect! Now you’re going to need the IT department and it’s a good thing you know each other J

Schools spend a great deal of money on FM systems for our students and it is our job as the itinerant teachers of the deaf to make sure that teachers are maximizing the use of the FM. I want to highlight a few of my favorites strategies here.

How many times have you walked into an assembly to find your student with no access to the person who is speaking? During assemblies, there are often multiple speakers making it necessary to pass the microphone from one person to another. Some of the speakers may have no experience with the proper placement of the FM microphone. It can also be cumbersome for the speaker(s) to wear the FM transmitter while talking into the main auditorium microphone. I have the perfect solution! In one school, we used rubber bands and a ruler to attach the FM transmitter to the auditorium microphone. I listened through a student’s hearing aid while another adult spoke– it sounded good! My students also reported improved access with this method as opposed to the shuffling of the FM transmitter back and forth.

When a classroom does not have a pass around microphone for peers to use, teachers often comment on the difficulty of passing their transmitter around for discussions. Generally, students do not know how to hold the transmitter microphone unless they have been explicitly taught, and my students with hearing loss complain of hearing “scratching” as it is passed around the room, impeding their access even further! My colleague shared the picture below of one clever solution:


Made from rulers and tape, students are now able to hold and pass the transmitter- without any scratching sound! Instantly, access improves!

Media shown on the Smartboard or other projectors is becoming more and more common in classrooms. While our students with hearing loss have visual access through the use of captions, they deserve to have equal auditory access as well. One of my cochlear implant users spoke with me about the poor quality of sound she perceived when the microphone of her FM transmitter was placed near the Smartboard speaker. Determined to resolve the problem, she and I investigated! We went online, we called audiologists, we called the FM manufacturer- there was an inexpensive solution… a splitter! I was able to purchase a splitter for under $10 at a local audio store. Connecting the splitter to the FM transmitter was not so simple (here's where IT comes in). I spoke with the head of the IT department at the school and he met me one morning in the classroom before students arrived. He knew what to do right away and was able to set up the splitter. Now, the class hears the media though the Smartboard speakers and my student gets the audio sent directly to her CI through her FM receiver. Because each classroom technology set up is different, I have enlisted the help of the IT department at each school where I work to help me set up splitters. I have had 100% success. I highly recommend it!


What are other ways you maximize FM use for your students ?