Rödl Employee Fund for Children’s Aid: IT equipment for children and young people with hearing impairments


published on 4 March 2021 | reading time approx. 2 minutes

The LVR Johann Joseph Gronewald School in Cologne is a school for children and teenagers with hearing impairments. The focus of the school is on hearing and communication. Developing communication skills is the only way to establish and maintain social contacts – and this is a special focus of the Gronewald School.


Because of the coronavirus pandemic, face-to-face teaching is not possible at all or has taken place only occasionally. The current teaching process is only remote and has therefore been largely digitally adapted.

That is why the chairperson of Leonie Kamp Support Association approached us because the students had to be equipped digitally. The need is very pressing – and the funds required to cover this need are lacking.


Signs as the main information medium

Because of their hearing impairment, the students of the Gronewald School must see the teacher’s mouth movements to retrieve information comprehensively; in some classes, communication is possible solely in sign language. Even in the classes where the teacher actually speaks while teaching the students, the teacher’s words are accompanied with signs. Therefore, the children are particularly dependent on good digital equipment. While access to remote lessons is also possible per mobile phone in case of other schools, obstacle-free or low-obstacle participation in the lessons by means of a smartphone is out of question for the students of the Gronewald School.

Facial expressions are an important part of sign language - and so they are of paramount importance for communication. Even the children who have hearing aids, CIs, etc. must still see the mouth movements of their teachers for comprehensive communication since (different from the situation with eyeglasses) a hearing impairment cannot be fully compensated by means of a hearing aid. Signs and pictures in the video are the main information medium for the transfer of knowledge. Therefore, it is important to ensure that these are accessible in an adequate size and quality.


Independent information retrieval through iPads

Information retrieval is more difficult in particular for people with hearing-impairments. They often have to rely on simplified/adapted language. It is often not possible to obtain information from the usual media, as there are no signs or the information is only being conveyed through speaking. With iPads, pupils can be empowered at an early stage to retrieve information on their own and are thus less dependent on the assistance of others. These competences could also be promoted by the teachers remotely.

Because of the large coverage area of the Gronewald School, friendships are made over distance. While other students from the same district/community can still meet friends out of school during the pandemic, these opportunities do not exist in the discussed situation because sometimes the distances are quite large. Remote learning is often the only means of contact with one’s peers. Students who cannot participate in remote lessons because they lack adequate technical equipment are particularly vulnerable to the threat of isolation.

The detailed and vivid description of the needs and situation made it very clear to us that support was truly necessary and worthwhile, and that is why it has become clear to us that we would get involved.



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Nicole Reum

+49 221 9499 091 30

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