Module: Deafness/Hearing Impairments (Page 5 of 10)


  1. Definition
  2. Manifestation
  3. Institutional Accommodations
  4. Assistive Technology Accommodations
  5. Teaching Strategies—
    What Can Faculty Do?
    1. Specific Strategies per Disability
    2. General Strategies
    3. Shaping the Environment
  6. Learning Strategies—
    What Can Students do?
  7. Resources
  8. Feedback


The term deaf refers to those who are unable to hear well enough to rely on their hearing and use it as a means of processing information. When capitalized, Deaf refers to a community of people who share a language—typically American Sign Language (ASL)—and a culture.
Hearing Impairments/Hard of Hearing:
Hearing Impairments and Hard of Hearing refer to those who have some hearing, are able to use it for communication purposes, and who feel reasonably comfortable doing so. A hard of hearing person, in audiological terms, may have mild to moderate hearing loss.


Inability or low level of ability to hear exhibited by:

  • Low comprehension of auditory-based modes of communication such as in lectures, class information, and assignments including auditory-based information in videos, radio, podcasts, on the telephone, using alarms, and other auditory-based means of communication.
  • A lack of clear pronunciation of words when speaking.
  • Verbal communication that may be louder or softer in volume than what is typical.

Institutional Accommodations

  • Alternative testing arrangements
  • Captioned films, web pages, DVDs, podcasts
  • Interpreter
  • Priority registration
  • Note taking support
  • Real Time Captioning
  • FM systems personal or classroom
  • Telephones with amplification, TTD signals
  • Visual Warning system for emergencies

Teaching Strategies—What Can Faculty do?

Specific Strategies - Deafness/Hearing Impairment

Consider the interpreter’s role
Allow the student and interpreter to choose an optimal location to sit: one that allows them easy viewing of each other, of the instructor/presenter, and of any visual information.
Remain visually accessible
Maintain an awarenessof the student’s ability to see your face and lips while you are speaking. Additionally, avoid any unnecessary pacing and moving about.
Caption materials
such as films, web videos, and visuals to provide conversion of audio-based learning into visual (written) learning.
Allow for only one speaker at a time during discussions
Repeat discussion questions and statements made by other students
Speak at a reasonable pace
Visually display technical words
Wear a small microphone
You may be asked by a student to wear a microphone to transmit amplified sound to the student or to transmit Real Time Captioning to the student.
Write discussion questions/answers on the board or overhead projector.

General Strategies

Provide Accessible Course Materials
Ensure that all curriculum materials (syllabus, notes, presentations, assignments, etc.) are available in an accessible format that can be used and manipulated by a computer (Word, HTML, RTF, PDF, etc.). To learn how to create accessible materials, see Training Modules and Tutorials on this website.
Plan Ahead
Select textbooks and materials needed for the semester as early as possible.  Students with disabilities will need time to take class materials to the Disability Service Office for conversion to an alternative format.
Provide Structure
Provide a syllabus and class assignments with clearly delineated expectations and due dates.
Provide Guided Notes on the Web
Prior to lectures, provide students with consistent, structured notes that are in an accessible format. Since students with disabilities sometimes have more difficulty than others in processing new information (especially while simultaneously trying to take notes), having notes ahead of time will increase students’ ability to follow along during class and more effectively process course content. If it is not acceptable for all students to have lecture notes ahead of time, make alternative arrangements for students with disabilities such as emailing lecture notes to the student(s) or setting up an office mailbox where the student(s) can receive notes ahead of time.
Provide Multiple Methods of Presentation
Present information and ideas in multiple ways in order to address different learning styles.
Engage students in multiple ways of learning
Incorporate active teaching/learning methods where possible. For example, problem-based learning activities, community projects, in-class activities and discussions, etc.
Encourage Multiple Methods of Expression
Offer more than one way for students to demonstrate what they have learned in class. For example, students can be given a choice between taking a test, writing a paper, giving an oral presentation, producing a video, etc. Additionally, keep in mind that some students may have difficulty working in a group. Alternative ways of completing a group assignment may need to be considered.
Repeat or paraphrase questions and responses so that the whole class can hear.
This is especially important in large classrooms and when a microphone is used during live and taped presentations.
Highlight Key Points
Provide an overview when introducing a new topic, and highlight key points in a variety of ways throughout class lessons and in written materials. Use visual, verbal and interactive cues for added emphasis. This helps students know what to expect and what is most important, thus improving their ability to achieve the learning objectives.
Summarize Key Points
Summarizing key points at the end of each class will increase the student’s ability to process and integrate new information.
Chunk Information
Break large amounts of information or instructions into smaller segments (“chunking”).
Provide Study Aids
Provide study questions, study guides, and opportunities for questions and answers to help students review and clarify essential course content.
Allow the use of digital recorders
Provide students the opportunity to process and review class material at their own pace, both after class and later during the semester. Review of material in this manner is especially helpful in preparation for mid-term and final exams.
Engage with Students who Self Advocate
Team up with students with disabilities (who disclose their accommodation needs) to determine a plan that is effective for all involved.

Shaping the Environment

Reduce background noise in the classroom whenever possible.
Seating and Positioning
Encourage the student to sit in the front of the class, near the interpreter, away from doors, air conditioning units, windows, or any other possible sources of distraction.
Avoid unnecessary movements around the room and face forward when speaking
These actions allow the students and/or interpreter to follow what is being said.

Learning Strategies—What Can the Student do?

Advocate for self
Connect with the disability service office to learn about available services and supports. Communicate with instructors about personal learning style and any individual accommodations that are being requested. Students should also be encouraged to read the ACCESS Self-Advocacy Handbook for College Students with Disabilities, available on this website.
Contact Assistive Technology (AT) Resources
Before classes begin, communicate with AT staff members regarding the campus locations where adaptive hardware or software may need to be installed.
Identify Additional Resources
Numerous organizations provide textbooks and leisure books in electronic format once the student is a member (free or nominal fee). The Disability Service Office and Assistive Technology Office can assist students in locating relevant community resources.
Peer Support
Seek the peer support of other students with disabilities. Refer to the Disability Service Office for information about peer support groups.
Record Class Lectures
Ask professors for permission to record class lectures.
Plan Ahead
In order to have required course materials at the start of each semester, communicate in advance with professors about required text books for each class, purchase books early, and bring them to the Disability Service Office with ample time for conversion to an alternative format.

Resources — Deafness/Hearing Impairment

Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
One of the world's largest membership organizations and information centers on pediatric hearing loss and the auditory approach.
American Academy of Audiology
General information and resources on audiology.
American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA)
Professionals networking for excellence in service delivery with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
American Sign Language Browser
Provides signs for letters and animated signs for words and phrases as well as information on Deaf culture.
American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
General information on Speech Language Hearing.
Better Hearing Institute
Comprehensive information on hearing loss, tinnitus, and hearing aids.
Provider of closed captioning and audio description services. Partner with DCMP (formerly Captioned Media Program) to caption and describe educational video for distribution via DVD and download.
Clearinghouse on Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Technology (COMETS)
Information on science, mathematics, engineering, and technology, including technical signs for students with hearing impairments and educators.
Deaf Resource Library
An online collection of reference material and links intended to educate and inform people about Deaf cultures in Japan and the United States; as well as deaf and hard of hearing related topics.
Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)
Information regarding open-captioned, free-loan media and other services.
Disability-Related Resources on the Internet
A comprehensive list of Web sites and discussion lists related to disability.
Gallaudet University
Liberal Arts University for Deaf and hard of hearing students, with demographic and research information on Deaf people worldwide and extensive resources for teaching Deaf students.
Visual language dictionary.
League for the Hard of Hearing
Information regarding hearing rehabilitation and human service programs for people who are hard of hearing and deaf.
National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
A consumer advocate organization promoting equal access to communication, education, and employment opportunities for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
National Captioning Institute (NCI)
NCI provides captioned programming and technology for millions of people who can benefit from captioned television.
National Center on Supercomputing Applications
NCSA Mosaic Access Page for Computer accessibility.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Comprehensive site providing information on deafness and communication disorders.
National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)
To promote effective communication through the establishment of a nationally based system for sharing signs used by skilled signers in particular academic and career environments. Includes publications by the National Task Force on Quality of Services in the Postsecondary Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
Pepnet Resource Center
PEPNet, the Postsecondary Education Programs Network, is the national collaboration of the four Regional Postsecondary Education Centers for Individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Postsecondary Education Program Network
For colleges and universities serving Deaf and hard of hearing students, and on-line orientation to teaching students with hearing impairments.
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. (RID)
A membership organization which includes professional interpreters and transliterators.
Hearing Loss Association of America
Information, education, support and advocacy for people with hearing loss.
VITAC - Descriptive Video Resource
Providing both captioning and video description services.
Working Together: Computers and People with Sensory Impairments
Video presentation and publication featuring computer technology for people with visual and hearing impairments.

General Disability Resources

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
ADA Home Page (U.S. Department of Justice)
ERIC Digest
Overview of ADA, IDEA, and Section 504
Equal Access to Software and Information (EASI)
Workshops, publications, and resources about computer access for people with disabilities
University of Washington - Disability-Related Resources on the Internet
A comprehensive list of Web sites and discussion lists related to disability.
Faculty Room
The Faculty Room is a site for faculty and administrators at postsecondary institutions to learn about how to create classroom environments and activities that maximize the learning of all students, including those with disabilities. This page is specific to faculty rights.
PACER Center – Champions for Children with Disabilities
ADA Q& A: Section 504 & Postsecondary Education
U.S Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights
Three documents by the Office of Civil Rights describing the rights of wounded warriors to a postsecondary education under the new GI Bill:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
Office of Civil Rights (OCR)
Discrimination on the Basis of Disability
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

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