Teaching Deaf or Hard of Hearing students

Having students who are deaf or hard of hearing in a classroom can be a challenge to the level of accessibility of a class, but it can also serve as a catalyst for making effective Universal Design of Instruction changes that may improve the classroom experience for everyone.

When interacting and working with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are a few key characteristics to keep in mind. First, the degree of hearing loss may vary greatly from individual to individual. Second, students who are deaf or hard of hearing may or may not speak, and communication may or may not require an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter. One student who is deaf or hard of hearing may speak and converse as a fully hearing person would, while another student would only use ASL or lip-read; therefore, it is important not to make assumptions. Even though a deaf or hard of hearing person is speaking, they may not necessarily understand what you are saying.

In addition, when designing courses, it is important to consider the following classroom barriers that may limit the effectiveness of a course for students who are deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Lack of captions for multimedia files (such as videos, online lectures or flash animations);
  • Using audio materials without providing a written transcript;
  • Oral-intensive lectures;
  • Group work that involves quick discussions;
  • Fast paced classes in which there is no time allowed for interpreters to catch up with material;
  • Not including a statement on a course syllabus regarding the process for making disability-related requests.

For additional assistance on working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, please contact Disability Services at: 231-8463.

The above information was adapted from The University of Vermont’s College of Education and Social Services Center on Disability and Community Inclusion, How to Work With Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Additional resources:

Pepnet 2 is a federally funded project whose mission is to increase the education, career, and lifetime choices available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is a national civil rights organization of, by and for deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the United States.

DO-IT Accommodation Resources: Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students  The University of Washington’s Faculty Room is a space for faculty and administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create classroom environments and academic activities that maximize the learning of all students, including those with disabilities.

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