Hearing Disabilities: Teaching Tips
The following is a list developed from various publications and the collective experiences of teachers, parents of hard of hearing children, and adults who grew up with a hearing loss. It is taken mostly from the Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc., Information Series #161 with a few additions and subtractions. Although all of the following material may not be applicable to every class, it may help you, the professor, think about issues that can arise when a deaf student takes one of your courses. Some of the advice about how to teach (like not speaking when you are not facing the class) is particularly useful. The information that follows was edited by Josh Andrix and Rick Webb, 10/97.
Additional information about "strategies" for teaching students with disabilities can be found via Eberly College of Arts & Sciences: Inclusion in Science Education for Students with Disabilities
Classroom Instruction with a Deaf Student Present
- A meeting prior to the start of class between you and the student is always a good idea. This way the student can get an idea of the course material, and you can begin to develop a more personal "feel" for the student's needs.
- Assign the student a favorable seat close to the area where you instruct. Avoid moving around excessively in class.
- Remember that you are a model for the students in your class in how you respond to the student who is deaf. Encourage the student to participate in class activities and be sensitive to the student's special needs, but do not expect less work or achievement from him or her.
- Speak naturally, at a moderate pace, and face the student; he or she may rely heavily on visual cues to aid understanding.
- Be careful not to "talk to the blackboard."
- Introduce new topics clearly with a short sentence or key word so the student can follow changes in activities.
- Use visual aids whenever possible, such as the blackboard, an overhead projector, or handouts.
- When students are speaking, indicate which student is speaking by pointing to the speaker or saying the student's name.
- Written instructions and summaries help the student to keep in touch with lesson content.
- Place a simple lesson outline on the blackboard.
- Write key words or phrases on the blackboard as the lesson progresses.
- New vocabulary should be written on the blackboard and the pronunciations made clear.
- Write homework assignments on the blackboard to include date due and other important information.
- Restate or write down important points or announcements.
- The student with a hearing impairment may have speech and language problems.
- If you have difficulty understanding the student, ask him or her to repeat.
- Do not call attention to the student's speech errors in the classroom.
- Realize that the student may have limited vocabulary and syntax, both receptively and expressively. The student's failure to understand may be related to his or her language deficit as well as the inability to hear normally. If the student does not understand what you said, rephrase it.
- Be sure the student understands when questions are being asked.
- Give written tests whenever possible, making sure that they are written at a level the student can read and comprehend. When preparing an academic test, ensure that it tests their knowledge of the subject and not his or her reading or writing skills.
- Captioned films and filmstrips should be used whenever possible.
- Depending on the student's hearing loss, amplification, and use of residual hearing, some tutoring after class and note taking during class may be necessary. It is often helpful to have another student take notes. It is difficult to speechread and take notes at the same time.
- Communicate regularly with the student about how the class is going and whether he or she is understanding the material and is comfortable in class.
- In the case that the student has an interpreter present, the professor should understand that the interpreter will be speaking for the student as the student and to the student as the professor. Statements like "tell him/her" should be avoided. Comments should be directed at the deaf student and not the interpreter. Also, it is important for the professor to give advanced notice if there is a special discussion or speaker coming so that arrangements can be made to have an interpreter present.