One to One Communication with Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students

Most hearing students benefit when speakers face them, speak clearly without rushing, and use gestures and other visual aids to enhance their messages. For Deaf/Hard of Hearing (HOH) students, these things are absolutely necessary. The important thing to remember is Deaf/HOH students receive messages visually. Therefore, you must be a visual communicator. Students using speechreading only (watching the speaker's face) will not have access to what is being said unless the speaker follows these basic rules:


  • Address the student directly, not the interpreter. It is important to refrain from saying to the interpreter, “Tell him/her…”.
  • Converse in a quiet place with few distractions.
  • Maintain eye contact with the student when speaking one on one. If you have to turn away, hold your conversation until eye contact is re-established.
  • Speak clearly and at a normal pace, but do not exaggerate mouth movements.
  • If the student does not understand, repeat your message. If the student still does not understand, re-phrase your message.
  • Use body language, facial expressions, and gestures.
  • Stand where your face can be seen. Be sure nothing is obstructing the student's view of your face, such as shadows or changing the shape of your mouth, such as when chewing gum.
  • When an interpreter is not available, it is also acceptable to communicate with the student using a legal pad, dry erase board or keyboard back and forth on a computer.
  • To contact a student out of class, use e-mail, Relay North Dakota, or a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf).
  • In conducting demonstrations, speak first and then demonstrate or demonstrate first and then speak.
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