Teaching Suggestions for Instructors of Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing Students

The following suggestions are offered as support in your effort to maximize learning by a student who is hard of hearing or deaf.

  • Preferential Seating – refers to flexible seating within six feet of you (or whoever verbally presents to the class). This should be away from background noise such as open doors to hallways, windows, or active areas as much as possible.
  • Visual Stimulation – A student who is hard-of-hearing or deaf often has very good visual skills which can be utilized as an area of strength. Always face the class when giving oral instruction, especially in the direction of the student and, when possible, use direct eye contact. Try not to turn your back to the class while talking as facial cues are an important source of information. Speak in a natural tone.
  • Reserve a front-row seat for the student. If an interpreter is necessary, the student should be positioned in such a way as to see both you and the interpreter. (The interpreter will often be able to help figure out the best positioning for the student).
  • At the beginning of a classroom presentation and after intervals, draw the students’ attention before speaking.
  • Use the chalkboard, an overhead, or a handout to reinforce spoken presentations to the extent practical.
  • When possible, provide the student with class outlines, lecture notes, lists of new technical terms and printed transcripts of audio and audio-visual materials.
  • Facilitate independent viewing time outside of class for audio-visual materials.
  • Highlight key words or new terms visually by writing them on the chalkboard or overhead. Present new terms in context by using them in sentences.
  • Ask the student questions occasionally in order to assess understanding of the information presented. However, make this a general practice for all students so as not to single out the student with the hearing loss.
  • Repeat or paraphrase the questions or comments of others in the class before responding.
  • When referring to an object in the room, walk over and/or touch it.
  • Provide an outline of visual media presentations such as slide presentations or videotapes.
  • Many commercially produced videotapes are closed captioned. Instructors can arrange to borrow a closed captioned television/decoder from technical services.
  • If a sign language interpreter is required in the classroom, continue to deal directly with the student. The interpreter will be helpful in explaining this process but generally, do not ask the interpreter questions, for or about the student.
  • Communicate with the student in writing, if necessary, about important scheduling, procedural, or safety information.


PASS Office, Plymouth State University
ACCESS Office, University of New Hampshire
Academic Access, University of Nevada, Reno
Nicole Bettencourt, MA, CCC-A, Audiologist