Four ways to make a PC easier for students to hear

If a child you know is having difficulty hearing you or their classmates speaking, they’re probably also having trouble hearing their PC.

Four ways to make a PC easier for students to hear

If a child you know is having difficulty hearing you or their classmates speaking, they’re probably also having trouble hearing their PC. Learn about options to help students to hear their PCs more clearly—without making them stand out in class. Watch the video

Fortunately, there are options to help students to hear their PCs more clearly—without making them stand out in class.

Here are four ways students can quickly and easily make the PC easier to hear:

Increase the volume

It might seem obvious: If you can’t hear, just move the volume control button or knob for your PC’s speakers. But there are even easier ways to increase the volume of a PC. Many people aren’t aware, for instance, that you can control the speaker volume using the Windows operating system. The quickest way to change the speaker volume on a PC is to click the Speakers button in the notification area of the taskbar and then to move the slider up or down to increase or decrease the speaker volume. This adjusts the volume only for the program you are using.

Screen snip of a PC speaker volume sliderUse the speaker volume slider on your PC to adjust the sound level.

See a demo: Adjust the sound level on your computer.

You can control the overall level of sound on your computer using the Windows operating system. Here’s how to adjust the sound and speaker volume on your PC:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  • If your speakers are not working, the speaker sound is distorted, or you’re experiencing other sound difficulties, review these tips for fixing common sound problems.

    Use headphones to decrease background noise

    Sometimes, increased volume still isn’t loud enough or doesn’t have enough sound clarity. And in some cases, the increased volume may interfere with another student’s ability to hear or concentrate. Students with auditory processing disorder (APD), who have a hard time recognizing subtle differences in sounds—even when the sounds are loud and clear—may be especially affected by a noisy classroom or computer lab environment.

    In these cases, it helps to plug headphones into the PC. Not only will the student receive greater volume and audio clarity, but also the distracting background noise will be removed, enabling him or her to distinguish sounds more clearly without distracting nearby classmates.

    Here’s how to connect headphones or a headset.

    Change the sounds on the PC

    Some students have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds. Others find it hard to hear low-pitched sounds. Many students associate certain sounds with other devices besides their PC and may have trouble identifying that same or a similar sound on their PC.

    To help these students hear their PC better, you can select the sounds that play when certain events occur on screen.

    Here’s how to change the sounds on your PC:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista
  •  Screen snip of Windows operating system Sound dialog box, with the Sounds tab selected

    With the Windows operating system, it is easy to change the sounds associated with on-screen events. 

    Use text or visual alternatives to sounds

    If adjusting the volume and changing the sounds are not enough, consider revising the way the PC notifies students about events, such as the arrival of email messages or system warnings. Windows lets you choose to have text captions or visual cues replace sounds as alternatives for notifications. One example is to have a text caption or a flash notification—such as a flashing caption or window—appear when a new email message arrives or when a reminder pops up. Instead of a sound, Windows can give you a visual cue. This is also handy for classrooms or computing labs with a lot of PCs, when too many sounds could be a distraction to students.

    Here’s how to set up visual alternatives to sounds:

    More ideas

    Depending on the learning environment, students may be able to use Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Office Communicator, and other instant messaging services for receiving text rather than spoken dialogue to communicate with fellow classmates. A combination of Speech Recognition to translate into text the voice of someone who is speaking (Windows Speech Recognition is available in Windows 7 and Windows Vista), along with Microsoft Outlook and instant messaging, can help students who have difficulty hearing to communicate in real time.
     
    If you try these tips and a student still struggles to hear the PC, he or she may find additional assistive technology support helpful. Personal listening devices and personal amplifying products can help some students. Or a student may need a classroom sign language interpreter or other accessibility solution to be able to communicate actively in their classroom. More information is available in Accessibility: A Guide for Educators.

    Teacher tips

       
    • Perfect pitch

      Change the sounds on the PC to a lower pitch or a higher pitch so that hearing-impaired students can better hear alerts.