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Teaching Disabled Students
Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Deaf and hard of hearing students represent a population that often needs a varied range of services.

The need for services is determined by

  • Age of onset of hearing loss
  • Degree of hearing loss
  • Awareness of hearing loss
  • Presence of other disabilities

Due to their diversity, deaf and hard of hearing students may use various combinations of language and speech to communicate. It is important to remember that lip reading is not a reliable method for successful communication. Lip reading is determined to be at best only 30% accurate. Lip reading is beneficial only when used in conjunction with other communication systems.

Even though hearing loss is a pervasive disability, it often remains undiagnosed. Students frequently do not associate a hearing problem with its resulting classroom and/or social difficulties. When this is the case, counseling intervention may be recommended.

The Services for Individuals with Disabilities staff makes every effort to inform an instructor if an interpreter is assigned to his/her class. If necessary, the student, interpreter, and instructor may meet to discuss additional classroom needs. The classroom interpreter's role is to convey messages between instructor, student, and others in the educational environment. Interpreters function under a professional Code of Ethics. Interpreters do not instruct, counsel, or supervise students.

It is each student's responsibility to develop relationships in the classroom and to seek clarification regarding academic concerns.

The following strategies may be used with students who are deaf and hard of hearing

  • Make a general announcement at the beginning of each term, inviting students to visit the office of Services for Individuals with Disabilities if they feel the need for services.
  • Provide syllabus on the first day of class.
  • Speak directly to the student. Avoid saying "tell her that....".
  • Speak naturally. Do not exaggerate lip movements.
  • Converse in well-lit areas. Avoid standing in front of a window or other extreme light source that could create a glare.
  • Do not hesitate to use pen and paper or ipad if necessary.
  • Ask questions to elicit feedback ensuring that your message is understood.
  • Write technical terms, assignments, and dates on the board. (Specialized vocabulary is often easily misunderstood, and may be difficult for the interpreter to spell.)
  • Provide front row seating. A clear line of vision is necessary for a student who depends on sign language, cued speech, or oral interpreters. The student must be able to see both the instructor and interpreter at all times.
  • If possible, create a circular or U shaped seating arrangement. This allows all students to see the speaker's face as well as creating an environment for the interpreter to freely move near each speaker.
  • Repeat comments and questions from others during class discussions. This is vital if the student is using an assistive listening device. Only the sounds carried through the instructor's microphone reach the student's receiver.
  • Invite students to share suggestions and strategies that have been successful in the past. Students are a great resource!
  • Do not write on the board and talk at the same time; students who lip read will miss what you are saying!