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Working with Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students

Instructional Tips for SDSU Faculty and Staff:

  • Speakers should face the class as much as possible while speaking clearly and audibly. 
    • Try avoiding to speak when writing on the board or while turned away from the class.
    • Repeat questions asked and comments made by other students in order for the student to follow the discussion.
    • Control discussions so only one person is speaking at a time.
    • Ensure any verbal announcements (ex: class cancellation, re-scheduled classes, class activities/field work, assignment instructions, etc.) are provided in a written format.
  • Utilize classroom sound system. If is in not in working order, contact Classroom Technology Services for assistance.
    • Keep background noises minimized as much as possible.
    • Provide videos and PowerPoints with captioning. If not available, provide an outline or summary of the material.
    • It can be helpful for the student if multimedia approaches for increased visual representation are incorporated into the lecture including whiteboards, projectors, charts and diagrams. 
  • Offer the student preferential seating near the front of the classroom. Some students may not wish to sit in the front, so be respectful of their choices.
  • Allow students to record lectures or, preferably, make available copies of lecture notes prior to the class period.
    • Students may utilize a note taker as an accommodation for the class. 
  • People who are hard of hearing may only be able to hear specific frequencies or sounds within a certain volume range and may use a combination of hearing aids, lip-reading, and assistive listening devices such as Roger Pens.
  • People who are deaf may have little or no speech and may use American Sign Language as their primary form of communication. Or they may use hearing aids and/or cochlear implants and spoken language to communicate or a combination of spoken language and sign language.
    • Some students who use interpreters choose to have the interpreter voice for them, others may choose to use their own voices to communicate.

Working with An Interpreter:

  • Some students may utilize sign language interpreters to facilitate communication
    • Look at and speak directly to the student and not the interpreter when communicating.
    • Speak at a normal rate (interpreter will ask you to slow down if needed).
    • Allow the interpreter to sit or stand near you so the student is able to see both the interpreter and presenter.
    • Because the interpreter will always be a few words behind you, it is helpful to allow for a few pauses between topics and main ideas so the student has a chance to ask questions. 
  • Interpreters may request class material ahead of a class period to allow them time to study the vocabulary and prepare for the lecture.
    • If class is canceled, please notify the student who utilizes sign language interpreters as soon as possible to allow them time to cancel interpreters.