Tips for Teaching Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing receive information in various ways: through an interpreter; through lip reading; through an assistive listening device (ALD); or through C-Print or a similar system of speech to print. The following tips can contribute to the student’s success in your class.


  • Students who are deaf or hard of hearing depend on their vision to watch an interpreter or speech read.
  • Ensure the student has a clear view of the instructor and interpreter.
  • Standing in front of a light source puts your face in a shadow. This makes it very difficult to speech read. 
  • Avoid speaking when the student cannot see your face, such as when you write on the board or walk around the room.
  • When referring to items on the board, point directly to the word or phrase you are referencing.
  • All videos and video clips need to be captioned.


  • Look at the student, not the interpreter, when talking.
  • Speak directly to the student, using first person language. Ask “Do you have a question?”, rather than “Does she have a question?”
  • Speak naturally, the interpreter will ask you for clarification or for you to slow down, if needed. The interpreter will lag behind you a few words in order to hear a complete thought before signing it.
  • The interpreter does not explain, clarify, or give advice about the class material to the student.
  • Make sure the lighting is adequate for the student to see the interpreter.
  • Avoid private conversations with others in the presence of a student who is deaf because the interpreter must interpret everything that is said.

Teaching Strategies

  • Provide written announcements for test dates, assignments and other important information.
  • Repeat questions from the class before responding. A student using an ALD hears only what comes from the microphone, missing anything else spoken.
  • Do not talk to the class at the same time you are having them read something.
  • When an interpreter is being used in class, allow enough time for the student to participate is discussions through the interpreter. It is important that only one person speakat a time.
  • Providing a copy of notes or power point slides in advance to the student and interpreter/C-Print captionist will aid them in following the lecture. This also allows time for the student and interpreter to prepare signs for specific terminology or unfamiliar words.

Revised July 2018

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