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 and ensure equal access in the classroom for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Deaf and hard of hearing students will usually require seating at the front of the classroom. This should be away from background noise such as open doors to hallways, windows or active areas, as much as possible.
  • The interpreter will usually sit or stand to your left or right to maintain eye contact with you and the student.
  • Good lighting must be available where the interpreter is sitting or standing.
  • Always face the class when giving oral instruction, especially in the direction of the student. 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 directly to the student in a natural tone of voice, as you would a hearing student.
  • Control classroom discussions to one speaker at a time.
  • Repeat questions from others in the classroom before answering. It is often difficult for the interpreter to hear the questions from the front of the room.
  • Deaf or hard of hearing students may not be able to take notes in class. They need to focus their attention on the interpreter. When possible, provide a copy of the class outline, lecture notes, and a list of key words and new technical terms.
  • Use the board, power point, or hand-outs to reinforce spoken presentations to the extent possible.
  • Present new terms in context by using them in sentences.
  • Any media that you plan on using should be captioned or subtitled. Captioned media breaks down communication barriers and provides equal communication access. Contact Learning Technologies and Online Education (LTOE) at 535-2813, for assistance.
  • Communicate with the student in writing, if necessary, about important scheduling, procedural, or safety information. Email is also an effective way to communicate.


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

DLRC, School of the Art Institute, Chicago