How do I include deaf students in informal learning conversations?
Unfortunately, the designs of some informal learning conversations and other activities do not allow individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to fully participate. There are several strategies your program can follow to avoid this situation. Begin by making sure your promotional materials and correspondence with potential participants explain how individuals can request accommodations, including a sign language interpreter and real-time captioning. If someone asks for an accommodation, a personal conversation with the individual can also give them an opportunity to clarify their needs.
In any learning situation, it is a good idea to reduce background noise and consider offering images and visual aids to reinforce learning concepts. When a group conversation includes a deaf participant with partial hearing or an individual who relies on lipreading, it is important for all other participants to be made aware that they need to face the person while speaking, to speak clearly, at a normal pace, and without exaggerating speech or gestures.
For more information about fully including individuals with hearing impairments in learning opportunities, visit Roberto and Biology: A Case Study on Accommodations for Deafness, Debra's Conference Experience: A Case Study on Challenges Faced by Conference Participants Who Are Deaf, Roadshows, Tours, and TechNights: A Promising Practice in Including Students with Hearing Impairments in Outreach Activities, and How can I ensure that a student who is deaf can access the content in my podcasts?