Hearing Impairments

Some Considerations

  • The inability to hear does not affect an individual's native intelligence or the physical ability to produce sounds.
  • Some deaf students are skilled lip readers, but many are not. Many speech sounds have identical mouth movements, which can make lip reading particularly difficult. For example "p," "b," and "m" look exactly alike on the lips, and many sounds (vowels, for example) are produced without using clearly differentiated lip movements.
  • Make sure you have a deaf student's attention before speaking. A light touch on the shoulder, a wave, or other visual signal will help.
  • Look directly at a person with a hearing loss during a conversation, even when an interpreter is present. Speak clearly, without shouting. If you have problems being understood, rephrase your thoughts. Writing is also a good way to clarify.
  • Make sure that your face is clearly visible. Keep your hands away from your face and mouth while speaking. Sitting with your back to the window, gum chewing, cigarette smoking, pencil biting, and similar obstructions of the lips can also interfere with the effectiveness of communication.
  • Common accommodations for deaf or hard of hearing students include sign language or oral interpreters, assistive listening devices, TTY's, volume control telephones, signaling devices (e.g., a flashing light to alert individuals to a door knock or ringing telephone), note takers, and captions for films and videos.

Instructional Strategies

  • Circular seating arrangements offer deaf or hard of hearing students the best advantage for seeing all class participants.
  • When desks are arranged in rows, keep front seats open for students who are deaf or hard of hearing and their interpreters.
  • Repeat the comments and questions of other students, especially those from the back rows; acknowledge who has made the comment so the deaf or hard of hearing student can focus on the speaker.
  • Assist the student with finding an effective note taker or lab assistant from the class.
  • Face the class while speaking; if an interpreter is present, make sure the student can see both you and the interpreter.
  • If there is a break in the class, get the deaf or hard of hearing student's attention before resuming class.
  • Because visual information is a deaf student's primary means of receiving information, films (provided they are captioned), overheads, diagrams, and other visual aids are useful instructional tools.
  • Be flexible: allow a deaf student to work with audiovisual material independently and for a longer period of time.
  • When in doubt about how to assist the student, ask him or her.
  • Allow the student the same anonymity as other students.