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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Alanna Tomazin

Softer voices speak up with new hearing technology in school

Itinerant support teacher for hearing, Isaac Laurence, Rutherford Public School year 6 student Ellsie Kuhn and principal Andrew Brown. Picture by Alanna Tomazin

A NEW piece of technology is helping children hear clearly in the classroom in a first for the Hunter region.

Rutherford Public School has purchased 25 Hearing Augmentation Systems, allowing teachers to speak softer and students to speak up.

Known as "sound fields" the systems will be placed in kindergarten to year 2 classes and include a touch screen microphone wore by the classroom teacher and a small microphone that is passed around to students. Students who have hearing aids can connect to the microphones via wifi.

Itinerant support teacher for hearing, Isaac Laurence said the sound fields help benefit students with undetected hearing loss, temporary or conductive hearing loss, hear over the top of background noise in the classroom.

"A teacher is trained to project their voice but if a student has hearing loss and one of their peers shares something, that student might miss the back and forth between the teacher and disengage," he said.

"This provides clarity and helps with a strain on the teachers' voice and fatigue."

The hearing systems have been trialled in the classroom for the last five weeks and year 6 student Ellsie Kuhn says they've been helping her and her peers stay engaged in learning.

"The whole class can hear when students are speaking and everyone's really interested in what's going on," she said.

"I'm really excited that we are all able to contribute to class conversations."

Coinciding with World Hearing Day on Sunday, March 2 principal Andrew Brown said there was no better way to launch their new initiative.

Rutherford Public School students are excited to launch the new hearing system in their classrooms. Picture by Alanna Tomazin

"We're always looking for ways to improve and tweak things to make them better, we're delighted at how effective the system is," he said.

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