Seating selection is more than just a chair

Most students have a seating preference. However, with student veterans these preferences may be based on self-accommodation, learning style, and comfort level which can affect their ability to focus, learn, and participate in class. In particular, seating preferences for student veterans with hearing loss can depend on the instructor’s tone of voice, pace of speaking or accent, as well as the student’s affected ear or the type of assistive technology being used. Some students may also select seat locations to help ease PTSD symptoms and anxieties and to improve their general comfort in the classroom.

One-on-one conversations during office hours are appropriate places to discuss these preferences and can help to build trust with your student.

Points to Consider

  • Depending on the level of hearing loss and on which side the veteran is experiencing the hearing loss on may determine where they sit in the classroom.
    • This is often considered self-accommodating if they have not been given chair-selection as an accommodation through disability services.
  • The chair selection can be the reason they are able to hear, concentrate and focus during class.
  • Disruption of their seating preference can have a great impact on their ability to learn.

Online Considerations

  • Seating can be a distinct choice to enhance learning when in the classroom, which can allow the student to stay engaged while still attending to their physical and mental needs
    • The transition to online learning may be requiring student veterans to sit for longer periods of time sequentially than typical courses 
  • Understand that student veterans may need to stand during class to accommodate for physical disabilities and chronic pain, in doing so for online courses may interfere with their ability to lip-read they may be doing for their hearing loss depending on the size of the speaker image
  • Some student veterans sit close to the front of the room for lip reading, make sure that the important speakers have proper front lighting and no “halo” effect so students relying on lip reading have the best possible chance of seeing the speaker clearly
    • When possible ensure that the instructor’s video is the featured screen, the largest or easiest to see