Blow are common questions and suggestions for teaching students who are deaf. Use the method/s that work best for your needs. WHAT DO I DO IF....

I want to get the attention of the class to begin?

  • Take your place at the front of the class.
  • Indicate to the class that you are ready to begin.
  • Flash the lights in the room to let them know you are ready to start.

I want to get the attention of one deaf student?

  • Call the student by name. The interpreter will sign your comments.
  • If the student isn't looking, you may have to go to him/her with the interpreter.

The interpreter doesn't show up for class or is late?

  • Inform the student you will begin your lecture. A back-up plan may be needed to ensure the student has access to all lecture information. Below are suggested ways of providing information:
  • In most cases, a notetaker has already been coordinated and will be providing notes to the student, please ensure the notetaker is in class.
  • Audio-recording the lecture and providing a transcript to student.
  • Provide student with a copy of the powerpoint or a copy of the lecture outline.
  • If Tegrity is available, record the lecture and it can be captioned for the student.
  • Use whiteboard/chalkboard, overhead projector, or visual aids more.
  • Feel free to write notes to communicate with the student. Communication is the important thing!

I know a few signs? Should I use them when appropriate or let the interpreter do all of the signing?

  • Use your signs before or after class or during breaks.
  • Let the interpreter do the interpreting in class. Your signing would make the deaf students shift their eye contact to you and away from the interpreter.

I want to be sure the deaf students understand what I am saying?

  • Do whatever you do to find out if other students understand the material.
  • Ask questions.
  • Remember that the interpreter will interpret their answers or responses to you.

I am in the habit of moving around while I teach?

  • It is best to stand in one place unless it is necessary for you to move around in demonstrating something.
  • If moving is necessary, it is better for you not to talk while moving. Move and then speak. This will make the work of the interpreter more effective.


My regular or normal vocabulary when teaching deaf students?

  • Use the same vocabulary you would use in any class.
  • If there are specialized words for the subject you are teaching, it is a good idea to let the interpreter have a list of these before class. (NOTE: Providing Blackboard access to the interpreter will be requested. This allows the interpreter to prepare.)
  • Be sure to have definitions ready for new or difficult words. This will be helpful to all students in the class.
  • Write on the board or spell unfamiliar words.

My speed of talking when I use an interpreter?

  • If your normal speed is too fast, you may need to slow down.
  • It is possible to speak too slowly for the interpreter. Together you must try to work out the best speed for both of you.
  • Speak distinctly so the interpreter can easily understand you.
  • The interpreter should not have to turn and look at you to understand you.
  • Don't turn away from the interpreter or the class while you are talking.


On test days?

  • Taking cues from the student, the interpreter may come to the beginning of the class period to interpret directions, corrections, additions, etc. to the test and then after checking with the student and you, may leave.
  • If you have additional comments planned during the test time, the interpreter will stay.
  • If you make a correction during an exam and the interpreter is not there, write the information on the board and draw the student's attention to the board.

For field trips and special speakers?

  • Interpreters are provided for class related activities. This includes field trips and special speakers. (The student is responsible for requesting an interpreter for the activities by completing a form from Disability Services.)
  • If the location of the class is changed because of a special speaker, contact Disability Services (DS) and please attempt to notify the student.


Is not in class?

  • Interpreters will remain in the classroom for 15 minutes. If the student has not arrived, the interpreter will leave.
  • Real-time captionists will caption the class regardless of student attendance.

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