for Accommodating Deaf & Hard of Hearing
Students in Your Classroom
NOTE: The following
tips were compiled by the Learning Needs & Evaluation Center (LNEC).
Those with additional questions regarding deaf/hard of hearing students
or students with disabilities in a class and those interested in other
resources related to persons with disabilities should contact the Learning
Needs and Evaluation Center/Disability Services Office at 243-5180, LNEC@virginia.edu,
or visit their website at http://www.virginia.edu/studenthealth/lnec.html.
information on this and related topics, also see our Diversity
students are different and require different accommodations based on their
experience, degree of hearing loss, and preferred mode of communication.
Some Deaf/HH students use hearing aids, some have cochlear implants, while
others use neither; some know sign language, others do not; some can speak
intelligibly, others cannot; etc.
can range from the less obvious (preferential seating, note-taking assistance),
to the noticeable (personal FM system consisting of a transmitter worn
by the professor and a receiver/headphone unit worn by the student), to
the highly visible (a sign language or oral interpreter, cued speech transliterator,
communication access realtime translation (CART), or closed-captioned
videos) and any combination of these. Accommodations can even vary for
the same student from one class to another. Note: Details about how different
service providers work appear below.
are some basic tips for working with Deaf/HH students in your course.
It is important to keep in mind that research and practical experience
prove time and again that accommodations like those described below for
Deaf/HH students (and most accommodations made for all students with disabilities)
not only benefit the intended student(s), but all students.
- As early
as possible, you will receive an Accommodations Notice from LNEC informing
you of a Deaf/HH student taking your class and explaining the approved
accommodations for him/her.
- You may
be asked to provide a list of video materials used in your class to
assist LNEC in securing closed-captioned versions and determining whether
the classroom is equipped to show closed-captioned materials. Videos,
DVDs and other visual media are normally marked with a "CC"
logo if closed-captioned.
- You may
be asked to provide a syllabus, vocabulary list, or other course materials
to assist interpreters in preparing for the course and/or to allow CART
reporters to program their equipment.
- Take a moment
to assess your classroom setup, materials, requirements, projects, and
teaching style in light of all the suggestions given here. Also, consider
the implications that field trips or special activities, like going
outside on a nice day, may have for a student (e.g., CART reporters
need an outlet and cannot move their equipment outdoors).
the LNEC will work with you to help you accommodate a Deaf/HH student.
In addition, LNEC can refer you to professors who have worked with Deaf/HH
students in the past. Feel free to contact the LNEC if you have any
questions or concerns.
- You generally
do not need to slow down or alter your speech pattern or vocabulary
to accommodate a Deaf/HH student. The student or service provider will
let you know if they need you to slow down. Depending on the student,
you may need to minimize moving around the classroom.
- Don't exaggerate
your mouth movements, speak louder than normal, or direct additional
attention towards a Deaf/HH student. Do try to keep an eye out for expressions
of frustration, confusion, and inattention in such students. Feel free
to talk with the student outside of class if you sense any problems.
- Work with
the student and his/her service provider to assure a proper seating
arrangement that maintains the best sight lines and comfort, along with
the least distractions.
- Please speak
and ask questions directly to the Deaf/HH student; i.e., don't turn
to the interpreter and say, "Ask her to do the next problem,"
or "Is he/she getting everything?" Even questions like, "Am
I going too fast?" can be directed to the student. The student
can then consult the service provider.
an overhead projector or screen projector (e.g., PowerPoint) allows
you to face the students, it is preferable to a black or white board.
If you use a blackboard, finish writing before turning to the class
to discuss the material rather than speaking while writing and facing
away from class.
- It is helpful
for the Deaf/HH student and his/her service provider if you write out
key names and terms to be discussed that day on the board, overhead,
or in a handout because the service provider will be finger spelling
or keying these terms. This is especially important for difficult-to-spell
it is difficult to write while someone is interpreting or cueing for
you, it is helpful to write on the board any important reminders, assignments,
due dates, schedule changes, etc.
- Try not
to ask students to fill out forms or sign attendance sheets while you
are lecturing. Consider using a class list that can be quickly marked
or discretely start a sign-in sheet with the Deaf/HH student. Start
lecturing when he/she is done.
Deaf/HH students cannot watch an interpreter, cuer or transcription
while reading, give students a few moments to read handouts before discussing
the material on them, (i.e., try to avoid saying, "As you look
this over, let me mention...").
when and from what source you will read something verbatim and allow
students to find and reference it, e.g., "A good example is at
the bottom of page 48 [pause]
the paragraph beginning
It's generally easier for the Deaf/HH student to read directly from
- Before answering
students' questions, repeat, restate, or rephrase them, especially if
an FM system is being used; the system amplifies only the professor's
voice. If the question comes from the back of the room, the student
and/or service provider might not have heard it completely.
- During group
discussions, ask students to speak one at a time and acknowledge/identify
them or have them acknowledge/identify themselves before they comment.
Asking students to raise hands before being called on tends to promote
fairer participation for Deaf/HH students than allowing students just
to start speaking.
- Keep in
mind the slight lag time involved in interpreting, transliterating,
and reporting when you prompt the class for any type of response; wait
just a few seconds longer for responses than you normally might.
- Try to avoid
large podiums, microphones or other materials that obscure or block
your face and mouth since many Deaf/HH students use facial and lip-reading
cues to follow what is being said (even when using a sign language interpreter).
that most Deaf/HH students will be using LNEC's peer note-taking program
since it's difficult to read lips or focus on the service provider and
take notes at the same time. Assistance with securing note takers and
addressing any problems that may arise is greatly appreciated If you
have additional suggestions or alternatives for securing good class
notes, pleases let LNEC know.
that focusing intently on an interpreter, cuer, or the screen of a reporter
for up to an hour or more is extremely fatiguing. Like other students,
Deaf/HH students may "zone out" or even doze off during class
and generally the service provider will keep on going. If the student
must leave class for a moment, the service provider will stop for that
time. If a student fails to show up for class, service providers are
instructed to wait for 10 to 15 minutes before leaving as discretely
as possible. Although LNEC has attendance policies for Deaf/HH who use
service providers, Deaf/HH students are equally subject to your attendance/absence
policies as anyone else.
generally no problem with acknowledging that the service provider is
there, making a joke when you think something particularly difficult
to interpret or key was said, etc. If you want to involve the service
provider/interpreter's perspective, just ask the Deaf/HH student if
you may. He/she will generally not have a problem with it, but respect
his/her decision regardless.
ASSESSMENTS, GRADING, EVALUATIONS
- Please be
sure that instructions/directions are written on exams. Because the
service provider will often not stay around during an exam period, write
important information (e.g., time remaining, corrections, additional
instructions, etc.) on the board or overhead.
- You should
grade Deaf/HH students the same as any other students and hold them
to the same standard. Assignments/requirements that need to be modified
due to the student's disability should involve the same amount of work
and degree of academic rigor as the original assignment. "But,
I spelled that wrong on the exam because my interpreter did" is
not an acceptable excuse if the student would have also seen the terminology
Language Interpreters interpret in sign language what is being said
in class. Interpretation may range from signed English to American Sign
Language. For longer classes, you may have two interpreters who switch
off every 20-30 minutes to combat fatigue. Generally, it is best for
sign language interpreters to situate themselves as close to the speaker
(i.e., professor) as possible with the student generally in the front
Interpreters present what is being said in class on their lips (i.e.,
mouthing), possibly substituting similar words that are more easily
distinguishable on the lips. It is generally best for oral interpreters
to be situated as close as possible to the student. The student doesn't
necessarily have to sit in front, but that's usually best.
Speech Transliterators present what is being said in class in a
system that combines oral interpreting and a system of hand signals
that help distinguish between sounds that look the same on the lips
(i.e., an enhanced lip reading system). It is generally best for transliterator
to be close to the student, but being close to the speaker is important
Realtime Transcription (CART) Reporters use a stenography machine
and laptop computer(s) to key in all that is being said in class so
that it appears in written form on the screen of the laptop placed in
front of the student. CART Reporters need access to an electrical outlet.
It is generally best if the reporter is close to the student, but also
important that they are close to the speaker.
Transcription/Computer-Assisted Notetaking System Reporters work
similarly to CART reporters, but they utilize a regular keyboard/laptop
computer with specialized software to input what is being said in class,
which is transmitted to the screen of another laptop placed in front
of the student. More editing and discretion are involved here than with
Note: Be aware
that, depending on the Deaf/HH student's speech abilities, they may depend
on the service provider to be their "voice;" i.e., the student
will sign, cue or even type their response, question, comment, etc. and
the service provider will voice it for them.