How can instructors make courses more accessible to students who are deaf or hard of hearing?

Date Updated
4/29/19

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can benefit from personal devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. But these tools don’t totally resolve hearing issues. In addition, individuals who lip read may only understand 30% of what is spoken. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing may use sign language interpreters or real time captioners in class, but instructors can apply the following simple teaching techniques to make their teaching more accessible to students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

  • Since sign language interpreting and captions lag behind spoken content, allow enough time for these students to catch up during times to ask questions and engage in discussions.
  • Avoid writing while you are speaking.
  • Stand to the side of the screen or other visuals students need to see.
  • Pause when you change the slide in a presentation so that students who are deaf or hard of hearing can read the information. PacerSpacer is a tool that can help remind you to pause.
  • Set a respectful tone in class and be mindful not to draw attention to students who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Check in with students who are deaf or hard of hearing periodically to see how they are doing and make adjustments as necessary.

For more resources, visit DeafTec, an organization that provides resources for high schools and colleges that educate deaf and hard-of-hearing students in STEM-related programs.