Disability & Accessibility Resources

Division of Student Life

Accessible Instruction for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Individuals who are deaf and hard-of-hearing use a variety of devices, such as hearing aids and cochlear implants, and strategies, such as lip reading, to augment their aural and communication abilities.

The following accommodations and instructional strategies will minimize barriers and allow students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to engage in their educational experience at Reed as fully as possible.

Effective accommodations may include

  • Provision of assistive listening devices (ALD), such as infrared or FM systems, or audio loops
  • Sign language/oral interpreters
  • Captioning
  • Note-takers
  • Extended time on exams
  • Reserved seating at front of classroom or near instructor

Recommended instructional strategies

  • In large rooms and lecture halls, always use a microphone when speaking. Lapel microphones are preferable over podia or hand-held microphones, as they do not obscure the speaker’s mouth. Please contact av.services@reed.edu or 503-777-7711 to request a microphone and inquire about your classroom’s options.
  • Allow the student to sit where they can most easily see you and the board or screen simultaneously.
  • Have all audio/visual media, such as movies, DVDs, video, and visual/audio internet media, captioned or subtitled.
  • Lecture from the front of the room, and limit pacing or moving around the room.
  • Face the students when speaking, avoid speaking while writing on the board.
  • Repeat or rephrase questions or comments from other students before responding. This is especially important in large spaces where you are the only person using a microphone.
  • Do not exaggerate the speed or enunciation of your speech as this distorts the lip patterns.
  • If the student indicates they do not understand what you’ve said, repeat what you’ve said and then immediately paraphrase.
  • Remember that a student with hearing loss cannot watch someone speak while they are reading printed text or while something is being demonstrated. When presenting visual material or referencing printed text, pause before moving on. If using a laser pointer, allow the pointer to remain on the object for an extended period of time. Allow ample time for students to read before you resume speaking.
  • Whenever possible, provide lecture notes, slides, and handouts to the student in advance, since most students who are deaf or hard of hearing cannot take notes while they are lip reading or watching an interpreter.
  • During demonstrations, use proper names – including technical terminology – when referencing items, rather than referring to “this” or “that.” For example, “Move the small beaker to the table by the window,” is preferable to “Move these things over there.”
  • When students are working in groups, allow groups to spread out or find private spaces, if possible. Hearing aids and cochlear implants work well when a single person is speaking, but are less effective in large groups where many people are speaking simultaneously, or in settings with significant ambient noise.
  • Limit the amount of background noise in the classroom, when possible.
  • Interact with students who are deaf or hard of hearing similarly to how you interact with all students. Be sensitive to the needs of deaf or hard of hearing students without drawing too much attention to them.
  • Keep in mind that these are general guidelines. The best source of information is direct communication with the student around which of these strategies they find most helpful. The student may also have additional suggestions or ideas.
  • Check in with the student two or three weeks into the semester to request feedback and explore adjustments, if necessary.