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Teaching Students with Hearing Impairments

  • Students who are deaf or hard of hearing should provide you with an accommodation letter from Student Disability Services outlining recommended accommodations for your course. If the student asks for accommodations but doesn’t present you with an accommodation letter, please refer the student to Student Disability Services for assessment and intake.
  • Students who are deaf or hard of hearing are expected to meet the same requirements as the students who are hearing in class. There may be some exceptions such as listening to material for an assignment or exam. You may choose to give a different assignment of equal value to substitute for this particular assignment.  SDS may consult with you occasionally to determine which accommodations are most appropriate for your course.
  • A student who is deaf or hard of hearing may find it difficult to take notes during the class and may need another student in class to be a notetaker to obtain copies of the notes.  Most often, Student Disability Services will find a notetaker for the student. If you know of a student in the class who takes good notes, please feel free to suggest that person as a notetaker.
  • It is helpful to write new terminology, homework assignments, schedule changes, exam dates, and exam question changes on the blackboard, overhead, or the class Blackboard site.
  • Your position in the classroom is extremely critical. If possible, try to remain centralized and avoid constant pacing in the classroom. Many students need to focus on your face in order to lip-read.  It is also helpful to avoid standing in front of a window, as glare can make lip reading difficult. 
  • If you are wearing an assistive listening device or lapel microphone as an accommodation for a student, please remember to turn the equipment on and off before and after your lecture.
  • As a courtesy, face the student directly when talking with him or her.  Always speak directly to the student and not to an interpreter, captioner, or companion.  If no interpreter is present, you may need to use paper and pen to help understand the conversation.
  • In class, discussions may be difficult for the student who is deaf or hard of hearing to follow. During group discussions, emphasize the importance of only one person speaking at a time and be sure that the student who is deaf or hard of hearing is aware of who is speaking.
  • Please be aware that most students who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot take in spoken instructions while reading or writing simultaneously. When test changes are necessary, either before or during the exam, please indicate those changes to the class in writing.
  • Students who are deaf or hard of hearing sometimes experience language and reading deficiencies because of the cultural differences in learning language and/or the hearing impairment. With this in mind, most students experience difficulties and delays in acquiring English language skills. Since reading ability is highly correlated with prior English language knowledge, many students have difficulties becoming proficient readers. A student may know the information from the class, but may need a little extra time to read the questions and write the answers to complete the test.  SDS may assist in providing exam accommodations if the student is eligible for and requests this service.
  • Closed-captioned videos and films and written transcripts of movies and films are often helpful, especially to the student who is deaf or hard of hearing and does not utilize an interpreter. To determine if the video or film you want to show is closed captioned, you will see the letters CC or the caption symbols on the case cover or label. You may also check with the Library to see if certain movies or videos are closed captioned.

If you are asked to use assistive technology as part as an accommodation (e.g., assistive listening devices, microphones, etc.), SDS will happily provide you with training on the use of the technology.