Suggestions from Faculty who have Worked with Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

As a teaching professional, you must communicate a variety of details, information, and instructions to your students. You are also responsible for measuring their learning progress. This requires an ongoing communication exchange between you and your students, as a two-way channel is essential to a successful teaching process.

If you have had little or no experience working with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, what techniques can you use in the classroom to enhance the visual tools and cues that students rely upon to understand you? The following suggestions have been offered by faculty members who have had the experience of teaching students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Visual Aids: Visual aids such as handouts or using the board can be a tremendous help to both interpreters, captionists and students. These aids often ensure correct spelling of technical vocabulary or names and accurate notation of formulas and equations.

Permit Viewing Time: Remember to pause before continuing with an explanation of a visual aid so that the student has time to look at the visual, review it, then look back to you or the interpreter/captionist for explanation.

Identify Different Speakers: Group discussions are often difficult for students to follow. Either they must have their attention called to an individual speaker for the purpose of lip reading, or figure out the identity of the person for whom the interpreter/captionist is signing/captioning.

Minimize movements: Be aware of those movements which will distract or block student’s view of the interpreter, captionists screen or your face (for lip reading). For example, do not stand between the interpreter and the student; and do not talk while you are facing the board.

Be Aware of Lighting: Notify the student or the interpreter/captionist when there is a need for special lighting (slide shows, movies, videotaping, Etc.). Be aware that with the lights turned off, the student may not be able to see the interpreter or the speaker.

Manage Interactions and Discussions: The interpreter/captionist can only capture one comment at a time. If students talk at the same time or interrupt other speakers, the service provider will not be able to capture both comments at the same time. This is also true for a student who lip reads. A lipreader cannot look at two speakers at the same time.

It is critical that the instructor control discussions and exchanges so that only one person is speaking at a time and that ample time is given to the student to change their focus when a new speaker begins their comments.

If you have any further questions about working with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing, an interpreter/captionist or would like more information, contact:

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Phone: 978-241-7045 (VP/V)