July 15, 2011

5 Important Things Teachers Forget to Do With Deaf & Hard of Hearing Students

Part of my job as an itinerant teacher of mainstreamed deaf and hard of hearing students is to work with various teachers who have these students in their classrooms (ranging from prek-12th grade). I try my best to explain to them their students' situations and things they can do to help them.

It is different for every teacher. Some have worked with deaf or hard of hearing students before and some have very little experience or none. Even for the ones who have worked with a student with a hearing loss in the past, usually the student they worked with was very different from the deaf or hard of hearing student they currently have in their class. Every single one of my students are different in a lot of ways in terms of degrees of deafness, personalities, learning styles, families and background, additional special needs (if any), etc. The one thing that they all have in common is that they share certain accommodations in the classroom that can help them be involved and have access to information like everyone else.

Some of these accommodations are often forgotten or ignored by some teachers. I can't say that I blame them due to their enormous responsibilities of teaching and caring for 20 or more different students in addition to grading, filling out paperwork, attending meetings, attending to administrators, parent conferences, dealing with me, etc.

Here are 5 things I have noticed some teachers often forget to do for their deaf or hard of hearing students in their classroom:
  •  Turn on the FM system's transmitter or microphone. 
  • Not turn their backs to their students as they lecture or give directions. 
  • Minimize background noises when having classroom discussions or when lecturing.  
  • Write directions on the board or provide visuals and handouts.  
  • Avoid asking the deaf or hard of hearing student "yes" or "no" questions. Example: "Do you understand?" as opposed to "Did you agree with the story? Why or why not?"



  1. I always hoped a teacher would not ask me questions in class! I never could keep up in class, and rely heavily on notes on board, textbooks, and speechreading when I can. Everytime a teacher asked me a question, I can't fully hear (as in not understanding the sounds I DO hear with my HAs) the questions and even if I did get the questions, I am afraid of humiliating myself in front of the class for getting it wrong because I missed out. I usually would not answer the question. I did not raise my hands or anything. I just sat and tried my best to absorb everything I needed to learn.

  2. I think most students don't like to be called on or asked questions! I remember being the same way. It was always embarrassing when it was obvious that I did not hear or was not paying attention. But, knowing that a teacher could possibly call on me helped me strive to pay attention and to find ways to let the teacher know that I did not hear or understand or ask the teacher for clarification. I do encourage teachers to try other ways to see if the student is following along or understands what is going on in class in addition to calling on him or her. I think never calling on the student because we know she or he will be embarrassed does not help.

  3. One of my gen ed teacher pet peeves is when they forget to repeat the questions and comments from the hearing students. Classroom discussions sound something like this to the D/HH child:

    "Does anyone know which operation to use for this one? No, but you're on the right track. Anyone else? Mmm, close. Rachel? Right! Nice job, and since you answered correctly, why don't you come to the board and do the problem. Will you explain to your friends what you're doing? Right, and then? Mmhm, you do need to add that to... Yes! Now tell them why you added that to the 9 and not the 4. Perfect. Thanks Rachel, you can go ahead and sit down. Any questions?"

    And I want to say a big OH YEAH to your last point. My students always say Yes when asked if they understand. Some of them truly do not know whether they understand or not, because they don't have those "meta" skills.

  4. Yeah,I am aware other kids daydream or dont pay attention and dont want to be called on.

    I am profoundly deaf, with HAs at the time so I couldnt put my full attention to the teacher anyhow. If I did, I would miss out more if I do not pay attention to my surrounding.

  5. Ah yes, don't forget to turn on the FM system transmitter! In high school, my teachers often forgot. I would raise my hand and remind them.

  6. If any of you folks want to know the truth about the deaf society y'all hearing about in the news this be the page that says it all : http://tinyurl.com/true-deaf The truth is all there and you can not call my bluff.

    Sign language students, my apologies, for bringing out this kind of truth of the people you'll want to be working with in the future but its a lot better you find out now as in early than later on when it could get very painful.

    As for deaf advocates, I too am one, I was one of your cheerful guards till the deaf centered society stole a lot from me. But, I'm still the deaf advocate and deaf activist only in a totally different direction to raise up the deaf society to a better state of life than they are in and I'm using very odd and explicit tools to accomplish this so pardon me for doing it the way I am doing it.


Keep it civil.