Strategies in working with students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:

  • Students who are deaf or hard of hearing often read lips, so it is important to face the class when speaking. If you need to write on the board, write, then turn and face the class so they can see you as you explain what was written.

  • Using a set of guided notes, Power Point, or other information that will be presented during the lecture helps the student keep track of what is taking place in the class.

  • Some students may request a professor to wear a microphone connected to an FM amplification system – it is not a regular microphone, but one tuned to a receiver or to their hearing aids. These microphones are wireless so the professor can move freely about the classroom.

  • If showing videos or DVD’s, be certain that they are close-captioned when they are ordered. All of the campus’ TV’s and “smart” classrooms have closed-captioning output capabilities. Ask the instructional resource staff to show you how it works for the set you are using.

  • Students who have hearing impairments often have paid notetakers – a great way for a classmate who is a good notetaker to make some money. Please assist the student in finding a notetaker if one is needed. (See the sections on notetaking and learning disabilities for other options – online notes, guided notes, completed Power Point information, etc. may be a good substitute.)

  • If a student needs an interpreter, the interpreter may ask questions for the student who is deaf. Respond to the student, facing the student, not the interpreter. You may be asked by the interpreter to spell a word if it is jargon for the field. Disability Services staff will provide the interpreters with textbooks and other materials needed to properly present the material, but sometimes there are no simple signs for specialized vocabularies.

  • Do not be hypersensitive using terms like “hear” and “sound” – students who are deaf use them both literally and figuratively, too.

  • If a professor or staff member needs to call a student who is deaf or hard of hearing, email has become the preferred way to communicate with students who are deaf according to national surveys of deaf students, instead of using phone relay services. Phone relay service numbers are in the local telephone directories; there is no charge for this service, just for the call.

  • Students who are deaf and who use American Sign Language (ASL) may have significant problems with writing. ASL is a “shorthand” language – a way of passing on information but it does not have the articles, tense, voice, or standard syntax of Standard English. However, when students write papers or essay exams, they are expected to write complete sentences and use a standard format. Their sentences may be shorter and simpler than their peers. Their thought processes and the interpreter’s narration of their ideas can be quite complex. Encourage them to work with a writing specialist to produce their best work.

  • If you are planning out-of-classroom experiences (field trips, museum tours, etc.) please alert the Disability Services staff so an interpreter can accompany the student. The interpreter is hired to be there with the student in all aspects of the class.