STRATEGIES FOR WORKING AND
COMMUNICATING WITH DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING STUDENTS
- Contact the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program
– firstname.lastname@example.org) before classes begin to ask any questions you may
have and to learn more about support services for Deaf and Hard of
- Several things would be helpful for the students and
interpreters/captionists (also called service providers) to see ahead
- A brief course outline or syllabus early in the
- A list of new vocabulary or specialized terminology
it comes up in class
- Copies of the instructor’s lecture notes
- A list of visual and auditory media that will be shown
class before it is presented
- Be conscious of your actions – your attitudes towards
students with disabilities will be observed by all students in the
classroom. This is your opportunity to create an atmosphere of
support and understanding.
- We encourage students to arrive early on the first day
introduce themselves to you and also the service provider(s).
Being early will assist with opening up lines of communication
regarding the students’ support services.
- Keep a clear line of sight in the classroom
between you and
the student. Deaf and Hard of Hearing students will need to see
you clearly. Some students will request appropriate seating areas
prior to class. Allow the student to be seated in a spot where
he/she can maintain eye contact, away from light sources coming from
behind or the side of you. Try to avoid standing in front of
windows or other light sources. The glare from behind you makes
it difficult to read your lips and your expressions. When another
student speaks and is not in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing student’s
direct line of vision, repeat the comment or question and point or
motion to show who is speaking. This makes it easier for the
student to follow the discussion.
- Allow the service provider(s) to sit or stand
on one side
of you, where the student may maintain eye contact with both the
interpreter and you. The service provider(s) may also need to sit
where he/she can hear you clearly, away from loud noises such as a fan
or busy hallway. Often the student and the service provider(s)
will determine the most appropriate seating location in the classroom.
- In question-and-answer periods, the student may
his/her hand, be recognized, and sign the question to the
interpreter. The interpreter will voice the question to the
instructor and the class, and then sign the response back to the
student. For a student using speech to text services, the
provider will need time to finish typing the text to the student.
Be sure to allow time for this to occur to ensure the student has an
opportunity to participate in class.
- Be sure to allow extra time in science or
computer labs for
the student to find things that you are pointing out. She/he may
need to get instructions from the service provider(s), locate the
materials, and then turn back for the rest of the discussion
- If requested, assist the student in finding a
notetaker. It is impossible to watch you, the service
provider(s), and then at the same time take notes.
- Make important information (like an assignment
or a change
in schedule) especially clear by writing it on the chalkboard.
You should also have a system to notify the student if you cancel a
class, so that she/he can cancel with the service provider.
Students and service providers have remarked on how D2L has been
helpful in communicating information about the course.
- Each student has their own unique approach to communication,
communicating in a way they are comfortable. Allow the student to
communicate with you regarding their communication preferences.
Not every Deaf and Hard of Hearing student communicates in the same way.
- When communicating with the student, speak directly to
to the service provider(s). For instance, ask, “Do you?” instead
of “Tell him/her” or “Does he/she?”
- Speak clearly and naturally, do not over-enunciate, and talk
or with exaggerated mouth movements. This makes it more difficult
to speech-read. Also, please refrain from blocking your mouth
with your hands or other objects. Body language, facial expressions,
gestures and writing things out may help get your message across
- Try to avoid long periods facing away from the students or
chalkboard while you speak. If you pace around the room you make
it difficult for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to see your
GENERAL AWARENESS TIPS:
- Don’t talk down to the student—their hearing is impaired,
- Be objective about evaluating materials written by hearing
students. If there are problems with grammar, syntax, or fluency
of expression, you can advise the student about such remedial services
as tutoring, language development labs, or other resources, which are
available on campus for all students.
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing students are expected to be treated
other student without a disability in the classroom. The same
university policies and conduct guidelines apply to students with a
disability as well. If you have concerns about the student’s
academic progress, please address your concerns with the student
- The first day of class may be stressful for you, the student
support service people (such as interpreters, captionists and
notetakers). Be patient and flexible! Issues can be resolved
smoothly and timely with open communication and creative solutions.
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