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Office of Disability Services

About Deafness / Hard of Hearing


What are the educational challenges for a student who is deaf or hard of hearing?

Because exposure to verbal communication is limited for students who are deaf/hard of hearing, even those with superior intelligence and abilities are at a great disadvantage in acquiring language skills. English, being a phonological language, is often a second language to sign language, a visual language, for students who are hearing impaired.  

Through amplification, many students who are deaf/hard of hearing are able to hear at an acceptable level. Personal hearing aids and assistive listening devices, using a radio link between instructor and student, in many cases enable the student to participate in the classroom without the help of an interpreter or aide.  


Instructor Tips

  • A student who is deaf/hard of hearing may use a combination of techniques to comprehend what is spoken in class. They may use sound amplification, lipreading, sign language interpreting and "real time" captioning.
  • Transcribing services, using a transcriber who keys in what is spoken in class, may be necessary. The student is able to read the transcription as it is typed.
  • If an interpreter or other aide is present, look at the student when speaking rather than the aide.
  • Be aware that a student in your class may be lipreading.  Be sure that the student is able to clearly see you and refrain from speaking when not facing the class.
  • Providing the student with a copy of lecture notes may help the student to better follow the lecture. A volunteer notetaker in class may also be helpful.
  • If an assistive listening device is utilized, the instructor will wear a small wireless microphone on the lapel. The student will demonstrate its use to the instructor.
  • Discuss the preferred method of accommodation with the student. The student will be able to suggest the best methods for individual learning success.    

Student Tips

  • An initial planning session with the Director of Disability Services will assist in planning proper accommodations for a student who is deaf/hard of hearing. After review of proper documentation of the disability, the student and the director can develop a strategy, using the student's preferences in accommodations,  to ensure the success of the student.
  • Assistive listening devices are installed in all campus meeting rooms or classrooms which seat 50 or more.
  • Interpreter services can be arranged through Disability Services.
  • A text telephone (TTY) is available by contacting Disability Services.
  • Volunteer notetakers can free the student to more closely follow visually without the distraction of taking notes. The student should pick up a packet in the Office of Disability Services at the beginning of every semester.  Please follow the instructions in the packet and distribute the information sheets to the instructor, if needed, and the volunteer note-taker.
  • Visual fire alarms will be installed in the dormitory room of a student who is deaf/hard of hearing to aid in evacuation in case of an emergency.

Any further assistance or accommodations needed should be discussed with the Director of Disability Services.