Tips for Teaching

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Many individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing rely more upon visual input than upon auditory input when communicating. Learning to use the visual aspects of communication (EG. body language, gestures and facial expression) is essential in order to effectively communicate with students who are deaf of hard of hearing. The following is a list of suggestions for enhancing classroom learning for these students:

  1. Make sure you have a deaf student's attention before speaking. A light touch on the shoulder, a wave, or other visual signal will help.

  2. Offer the student preferential seatings. The student should be seated in such a way that she/he can get as much from visual and auditory cues as possible. Such a position is generally near the front of the classroom, however, a student may have an individual preference.

  3. Don't talk with your back to the class, as when writing on the blackboard. It destroys any chance of the student getting facial or speech reading cues.

  4. When showing slides, movies, or videos, it is helpful if an outline or summary of the materials to be covered is provided.

  5. When questions are asked from the class, it would be of great help if the questions are repeated before answering, or phrase the answer in such a way that the questions are obvious.

  6. Beware of giving procedural information while handing out papers. Loss of eye contact may mean loss of information. Likewise, allow time for reading materials which are passed out before beginning any discussion of those materials.

  7. Recognize that the student may have need of a note taker for your class. When you are "listening" with your eyes, via lipreading or the use of a sign language interpreter, it is difficult to take good notes simultaneously.

  8. English is actually a second language for many students who are deaf or hard of hearing. When grading written assignments and/or essay tests, it is important to emphasize accurate and comprehensive content rather than writing styles.


Working with an Interpreter

Although many deaf or hard of hearing students are able to speak and read, it may be necessary to have an interpreter available. Here are a few tips for working with an interpreter:

  1. Be sure you've been introduced to the interpreter. Ask for a brief explanation of the interpreter's role in the classroom.

  2. Discuss with the student and the interpreter(s) where it would be best for the interpreter(s) to be located in order to provide the greatest benefit for the student without distracting other class members.

  3. Let the interpreter know if you expect to use any special audio-visual equipment for films or slides. The interpreter will need adequate lighting in order to be seen.

  4. During class, if you are speaking too fast, if someone speaks inaudibly, or if several people talk at once, the interpreter will not be able to provide a clear interpretation to the student. Avoid this whenever possible.

  5. The interpreter is in the classroom to facilitate communication for both the student and the instructor. Speak directly to the student as you would any other student. The instructor, the interpreter, and the student should all feel free to ask for clarification to insure accuracy of the information conveyed.

  6. The interpreter's only job in the classroom is to facilitate communication. She/he should not be asked to run errands or proctor exams. She/he must not participate in the class in any way.

  7. The interpreter may require a break from interpreting after 45 to 90 minutes, as it is highly taxing, both mentally and physically. If two interpreters are available, they can alternate to provide breaks.

  8. If you wish to discuss any problems with the interpreting situation, wait until a break or after class when these problems can be discussed together with the student.

If you have any questions, please contact the Advisor for Disability Support Services