Hearing disabilities include a broad spectrum of experiences of people who may identify as Deaf or hard of hearing and/or who may experience a range of limitations in perceiving auditory information. Students with hearing loss have variable experiences with perceiving auditory information. Students that are hard of hearing or Deaf vary greatly in the degree (mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe, and profound) and type (conductive, sensorineural, combined) of hearing loss they experience and may engage in different ways of communicating (speech-reading, speaking, amplification devices, sign language, or combinations of these methods).
Each person with hearing loss may respond differently to amplification (hearing aids, cochlear implants) if such devices are used, and it is important to note that amplifications do not completely correct hearing loss to the same degree that glasses can correct vision. Hearing amplification does not clarify sounds, they simply amplify sounds. While environments with moderate background noises, such as classrooms, may cause difficulty with communications, environments that are one-on-one and quieter may still cause challenges.
Barriers to Access
- Understanding conversational speech in one-on-one settings
- Understanding spoken language in group settings
- Comprehending recorded auditory/video content
- Detecting environmental sounds
Considerations and Tips for Improving Accessibility
Students’ accommodation letters outline the accommodations they are approved for with D&A. Following delivery by the student, instructors must provide each reasonable accommodation listed. The following list includes suggested instructional tips and practices to consider in addition to the provision of ADA accommodations. (Information about a student’s disability is confidential with Disability & Access, and while a student may choose to disclose their disability, this information cannot be requested by instructors).
- The deaf or hard of hearing student may need a notetaker so that he/she can give full attention to watching the speaker or interpreter. See Notetaking Accommodations
- Instructors should offer assignment instructions in written form.
- The speaker should face the class as much as possible and speak clearly and audibly.
- Avoid covering your mouth or standing with a light source behind you when speaking.
- Students will need to sit close to the speaker for maximum intake of visual cues.
- The instructor should keep a minimum amount of lighting on when presenting audiovisual information so the instructor or interpreter can be seen at all times. It is helpful to supply the student with a written explanation of a demonstration in advance.
- Videotapes or movies should be open or closed-captioned.
- Refrain from speaking while writing on a chalkboard or while turned away from the student.
- The use of visual aids (chalkboards, overhead projectors, diagrams, charts, etc.) greatly assists students with hearing disabilities.
- In a group discussion, ensure that one person is speaking at a time. Point to the speaker or have speakers raise their hands. It may be necessary to repeat questions or comments so the student can keep up with the discussion.
- Allow extra time when referring to written material, since the student with a hearing disability must look at the material and then return their attention to the classroom to keep up with the discussion.
Interpreters in the Classroom
Interpreters are trained professionals bound by a code of ethics. Interpreters have no knowledge of the student’s classroom performance or the etiology of their hearing loss. In addition to the suggested modifications listed, the following suggestions are helpful for working with an interpreter.
- Speak directly to the student who is deaf. Don’t ask the interpreter to “Tell him …”
- Look at the deaf student, not the interpreter. The interpreter will sign whatever you say and voice whatever the student signs. The interpreters are not permitted to voice their own personal opinions or enter the conversation.
- Speak at a normal rate. The interpreter will ask you to slow down or repeat if the delivery is too fast.
- Allow the interpreter to sit or stand near you. The interpreter and the instructor should work out the best place for the interpreter to work. The closer the interpreter is to the speaker, the easier it is for the student to see the interpreter, the instructor and any visual aids.
- Remember that the interpreter will be a few words behind the speaker. Allow the interpreter time to finish so that the student may ask questions or join the discussion.
- Provide the interpreter with extra copies of materials being discussed in class. This allows the interpreter to study pertinent vocabulary and be prepared for the class. (Providing a list of technical terminology to be discussed can be helpful as these words can be difficult to interpret).
- Interpreters are paid professionals and skilled interpreters are in great demand. This makes it important to inform students of any class cancellations or changes as early as possible so they can make arrangements with their interpreters.
- If the interpreter does not show up, the student must notify the Interpreter Coordinator and a substitute will be sent if one is available. If no substitute is available, the student and instructor can decide what to do (tape the lecture to be interpreted later, allow the student to leave, stay, etc.).
- Initially, an interpreter’s presence may be distracting to the instructor and other students. However, the initial curiosity will subside and it should be a comfortable situation for all concerned.
Please visit our website for more information about working with Deaf/HH students
| Back to top |