Working with Hearing Impaired Students

In Class

  • Announce at the start of several class meetings that students with disabilities can have a separate meeting with you to discuss the modifications or adaptations he or she may need.
  • Give front row or preferential seating to students who have hearing impairments.
  • Meet with the student before classes begin or as early as possible to discuss the strategies and modifications the student will need in class.
  • Provide new vocabulary, such as terminology specific to the topic, in advance if possible. Terms can be written on a board, overhead, or provided on paper.
  • Avoid unnecessary pacing and speaking when writing on a board. It is difficult to speech read or interpret when a person is in motion.
  • Use visual aids whenever possible.
  • Make sure the student doesn’t miss vital information by writing out changes in meeting times, special assignments, etc.
  • If necessary, assist the student in arranging for note takers or class partners. Note takers should contact our office for further instruction.
  • Slow down the pace of communication slightly to facilitate understanding. Allow extra time for the student to ask questions.
  • Allow full participation by the student in class discussions. Recognize the student from time to time to facilitate their participation.
  • Discuss beforehand alternate methods for taking tests. While alternatives are entirely negotiable between the student and the professor, it is best to be specific about due times and dates.

Communicating One-to-One

  • Get the student’s attention before speaking—a tap on the shoulder, a wave, or other visual signals.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Look directly at the student—avoid turning away when speaking.
  • Do not place anything in or near your mouth when speaking.
  • Use pantomime, body language, and facial expression to help supplement your communication.

Communicating Through an Interpreter

  • Speak directly to the student, not to the interpreter.
  • Speak clearly and in a normal tone; if reading verbatim text, read slowly.
  • Provide good lighting for the interpreter. If it is necessary to darken the room for projection equipment, make sure the student can see the interpreter.

Do not make any assumptions about a student’s needs and abilities.

Do not hesitate to ask the student how you can be of assistance.

This tip sheet is taken from a publication of The National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester Institute of Technology