Activity 2: Identify Difficulties

Start thinking about problems that you may want to solve to help people with hearing loss. Refer back to El Deafo if it is accessible to you. What were some of the problems that Ms. Bell had when she was your age? How did her hearing loss impact how she learned, played, and made friends? If you don’t have the book, don’t worry. Talk to your family about hearing loss. Ask a parent or guardian if they know someone with hearing loss. Perhaps you have an older relative that doesn’t hear well.  How are they affected? What problems do they experience in their lives?

Students working on poster activity together

Right now, you are thinking about ideas for a person with hearing loss and what they may find useful. Can you think of useful and unique solutions—inventions—that may address how they are affected? You can share your ideas and inventions with people who have hearing loss and get their feedback on how useful your ideas are. Perhaps they would like to invent with you!

Real-Life Inventors

Let’s see what real-life inventors invented for a children’s invention competition!

Portrait of student Jaylin


  • What did Jaylin invent?
  • What problem was she trying to solve?

Portrait of student Mahesh


  • What did Mahesh invent?
  • What problem was he trying to solve?

Portrait of student Trinidad


  • What did Trinidad invent?
  • What problem was she trying to solve?

Inventions to Help Communications

Let’s explore inventions for communication while you think about problems that you may want to solve for and with people with hearing loss. You are probably familiar with video chatting and text messaging. Do you know about closed captioning? This is a process to show the text of what’s being spoken on a television or video screen. Think about how each of these would impact you if you had hearing loss.

Video chatting, text messaging, closed captioning
  1. Circle one communication technology from above you want to now reflect on.
  2. How do you use this technology? Could someone with a hearing loss use it in the same way you do?
  3. How would someone with a hearing loss use this technology differently than you do?

The Invention Cycle

Invention cycle: find and define problems, inquire & research, design, build & test

Inventors are always curious and empathetic. They are constantly learning new things. And, they find and define problems all the time. Can you list four problems you found out about this week? You may need to inquire with people or do some research online to define the problem. This will help you think about what you are going to design for your invention.

Problems I want to solve are:

  1. ______________________
  2. ______________________
  3. ______________________