Self-Advocacy: Equipment Management

8/15/16areas of self-advocacy

When I think about what my students need to become successful in school and life, I have teased out the 5 categories of skills shown above.  Let’s consider equipment management first.

What is equipment management and why is it important?

Whether a hearing loss is sensorineural or conductive, it means that the brain has limited or no access to sound.  Many teachers and administrators think that hearing aids, cochlear implants and FM systems are like glasses.  Wait – this is not true!  You can easily put them on but a student does not automatically know:

> how they work

how to use them

> how to troubleshoot when something goes wrong

how to maintain them.

This is specialized knowledge that the student must learn and use in order to maintain access to school and life.

What do students need to know?

Just as with any device they need to know:

ο the names of the important parts

ο how the device works

ο what they need to do to keep it working.

Continual updates in technology means that amplification continually improves and changes.

Where do I get this information? 

Ask the parent, another professional or look on the student’s audiogram to determine the manufacturer and model.

Manufacturers’ websites – each type of hearing aid, cochlear implant, and FM system has the manufacturer’s name printed  on it somewhere.  (You may need a magnifying glass to read it).  The major hearing aid manufacturers are Phonak, Oticon, Seimens, Starkey and Widex.  There are 3 cochlear implant companies:  Cochlear, Advanced Bionics and Med-el.  The major companies that make FM systems are Phonak and Oticon.  The websites have user guides with labeled diagrams.

Go to my website and download free data sheets  for hearing aids and 2 models of Phonak’s FM systems:  inspiro and Roger Pen.

Students with cochlear implants who received them at an implant center usually have a team that you can contact with questions.

How do I assess a student’s knowledge for a Present Level, Evaluation or Progress Report?

I always start with the actual device or a picture of the student’s own device.  To see what they know, I ask them to name parts as I point to them then I name the parts and ask them to point.  This will give “can name” and “can point out” data for a Present Level, Evaluation or Progress Report or for an IEP goal.  Example:  The student can point out 4/10 parts of his cochlear implant and name 2/10 parts.

Next is assessing what the various parts do.  I like to use games whenever possible and I developed Hearing Aid TicTactoe Bingo and FM Bingo – for both inspiro and Roger Pen.  These games come with 3 sets of cards – one each for pictures, labels and functions.  If the student can read, I mix the 3 sets together and ask him/her to sort the pictures into rows of 3 that go together.   These games are available as apps in iTunes and digitally at    This information will give you data and an IEP goal such as “understands or can explain the functions of 3 out of 10 parts of her FM system”.

How do I teach amplification information?

I like to start with a photograph of the student’s own equipment because that is functional and meaningful for him/her.  File Feb 09, 9 23 17 AM

      1.   I have pre-printed hearing aid and FM inspiro parts that you can grab here to match to the part on the picture.

    2.  I love to import these photos into the free apps Telligami,  Chatterpix and Educreations.  Each app allows an audio recording so the student can explain the information.   Also, using apps where a product is created allows you to send the creation to parents and other professionals for communication and collaboration.

   3.  Hearing Aid TicTactoe Bingo (iTunes, TPT), FM Bingo – inspiro (iTunes, TPT, website) and FM Bingo – Roger Pen (iTunes and TPT) are fun ways to work on learning this information.  The digital and hard copies come with 5 additional activities you can do with them.  Both FM apps come with a matching activity that can be used for instruction or review.

What’s the goal of spending time on this information?

In order for the student to maintain auditory access in the school environment the student must learn how to troubleshoot his/her equipment.  I like to create a troubleshooting guide with the student, using photos and tape it onto the box of their supplies.  That way it is available to be referred to at any time.  Here’s an example.

OP troubleshooting

This information can also be used for data and IEP goal as in “The student can or cannot troubleshoot his hearing aid/cochlear implant/FM system.”

Have you subscribed to my website yet?  When you do I will send you 25 evidence-based and/or brain-based activities to build vocabulary.  These activities can be used with to practice amplification equipment vocabulary.  Click here to subscribe.