Back to Faculty



Access to the spoken word is problematic for persons experiencing varying degrees of hearing loss. For this reason, assistance is often necessary to assist a deaf or hard of hearing person in understanding what is being said. Deaf and people with hearing loss communicate in a variety of ways depending on where they were educated and the type of education received. Listed below are some ways deaf and people with hearing loss communicate.

American Sign Language: Many people born profoundly deaf since birth (prelingually deaf) identify with this distinct language and culture. ASL is a rich, yet different language than English, used by deaf people in the United States. Students who use ASL rely primarily on a qualified ASL Interpreter in the classroom.

Various Forms of Signed English: Sign systems exist in which deaf persons use sign language and mouth movements which follow the syntax of English. Students who use this type of signing will rely on a qualified Signed English Transliterator in the classroom.

Cued Speech: Some deaf people have been educated in a system which uses specific hand signals representing the sounds of the English Language. The cues, when used along with lip movements, help a deaf person to more clearly understand the numerous words which look alike on the lips.

Speech Reading:
Also known as lip reading, this method is the least precise way of communicating with a deaf or person with hearing loss. It is estimated that a mere 30% of words in the English language are understood via speech reading. It is, at best, guess work. When this method is used, it is often helpful to have a pen and paper ready to write down words which are difficult to speech read.

(Other methods include FM and Infrared Loop Systems; Interpreting Services; Oral Interpreting; Cued Speech Transliterators; Computer-Aided Real-Time Reporters; Transcription Services; and Note-taking Services).

To request any of the services listed in this section, or if you have any questions, please contact the Office of Disability Services, O'Hare Hall, Lower Level at Rose Hill; or Lowenstein Building, Room 207 at Lincoln Center.


Deaf and hearing loss is a reduction in sensitivity to sound, where the person loses the ability to distinguish auditory stimuli. Even amplification may not assist the person in interpreting auditory stimuli. Individuals who are deaf from birth experienced severe lags in the development of speech and may have language-based deficiencies such as poor syntax and vocabulary, and difficulty understanding abstract concepts. Hearing loss may range from mild to profound.

An estimated 21 million Americans have some degrees of hearing loss. The range of hearing loss varies from mild to more limited hearing.

Deaf is a term used for individuals with severe to profound hearing loss who identify themselves as being deaf. While there may be variation in the degree of hearing loss, it is usually so severe that everyday speech and most environmental sounds cannot be heard or understood even with the use of a hearing aid.

Not all deaf or individuals with hearing loss are proficient at lip reading.

Only 20-30% of spoken English is comprehended through lip reading.

A hearing aid does not correct a hearing loss like glasses correct vision.

Students can have reduced comprehension due to environmental noises.

A Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) and TYY are available on campus to make telephone communication possible for individuals who are deaf or have hearing loss.

A variety of sign languages are available (American Sign Language, Signed English, Exact English). Each has its own syntax and sentence structure quite different from spoken English.

An interpreter should be placed near the faculty member or between the faculty member and the student for best communication.

Some students require the use of an amplification system. The faculty member wears a wireless FM microphone that is compatible with the student's hearing aid and may also use microphones that students in the classroom would use during a class discussion so the student can hear what is being said by others in the room as well as the professor.


Deaf people are not as flexible with English either in speaking or writing as are hearing people; apparently this disability interferes with the full development of conceptual language skills; it also interferes with spelling ability because some words cannot be heard and "sounded out."

Lip-reading is about 60-80% effective; therefore, the student may miss some of your words, especially during a lecture.

Lip-reading ability varies; there is no correlation with IQ, and according to the studies made, it has more to do with aptitude and language experience; there are talented lip readers and not so talented ones.

A woman's lips are more visible with lipstick, making her more lip readable.

A man is more easily lip-read if he does not have a mustache or a beard.

The use of language by "oral-deal" individuals is stilted; sibilant sounds (s, she, ch, j) may be missing; vocal tone may be flat and nasal; phrasing may be lacking; appropriate level of loudness or softness may be absent.


A person with hearing loss should be looking at you when you are talking;he/she does not like to be constantly tapped, poked, pushed or pulled; so to get his/her attention:

call his/her name.

tell someone near him/her to look at you.

flick a light on and off a few times.

stamp your foot once or twice.

gently wave a hand in front of his/her face.

Speak in an ordinary tone of voice; do not mouth each word since this distorts normal rhythm; a good lip reader is looking for thoughts, not single words.

Some teachers are more lip readable than others; always use your voice in conversation with a hearing impaired student.

Try not to talk with your back to the light, putting your face in shadow.

Try not to talk while writing on the board or walking around the room.

Do not repeat a question or statement the same way twice but say it again differently; it may be what you are saying is not easily seen on the lips; when you express it differently, it may become clear.

The student will not be able to use his/her eyes and ears simultaneously; he/she cannot be looking down writing and "listening" at the same time; if he/she looks away to make notes or to read, please wait until he/she looks at you again before speaking.

The student cannot keep up with rapid change of conversation in ordinary conversation; in group discussions, have someone jot down the topic every time it changes (the group situation is especially difficult for a lip reader because the speakers change rapidly).

It may be helpful if you write technical and complex terms on the blackboard since these words may not be easy to lip-read.

It may be useful to provide the student with a copy of your own lecture notes (some professors use this system).

Perhaps you could ask the student regularly if he/she is comprehending the course material, receiving sufficient support services, etc.

The overhead projector is an excellent teaching tool because it keeps the professor in one place in a well-lighted room.

The student may tape record lectures (with the professor's permission for later transcription; please note that most cassette recorders will only pick up the lecturer's voice in the area of the room where it is located; it will not record comments elsewhere in the room.

The student may be accompanied to class by a sign-language interpreter who will "translate" the lecture.

Students with hearing loss rely heavily on textbooks and written material to obtain information.

It would be helpful for them to have information about what is to be covered in class prior to the class session so that, where possible, the material can be read in advance and permit the student to become familiar with the new vocabulary.

If the teacher could provide key questions related to the material, it might make the student's preparation more meaningful.

Oral tests usually should not be given to hearing impaired students since they may penalize these individuals.

In order for the student to benefit maximally from any course, he/she may need:

note-takers who may accompany him/her to class (or students in the course who will allow him/her to photocopy their notes)

transcribers who will produce a written version of each lecture from a tape recording which he/she will make in class

possible tutors to help him/her review material.


Note-takers to allow for full attention to speaker or interpreter.

Use of an interpreter if appropriate.

Use of Real-Time Reporting if appropriate.

Use of an amplification system if appropriate and a specialized classroom on campus with acoustics designed to accommodate the FM system.

Front row seat to maximize the intake of visual cues.

Appropriate lighting even during the use of visual aids so the faculty member or interpreter can be seen at all times.

Exams with extended time if this is one of the students' documented accommodation.


Deliver lectures slowly and clearly.

Be sure you mouth is not covered by your hand or book.

Repeat words if necessary.

Face the class and not the chalkboard.

Avoid standing behind the student with a hearing loss, or walking back and forth in front of the class.

Write important material on the chalkboard or overhead transparency.

Hand out typed or printed notes.

Use closed captioned videos and movies. If they are not used, provide a written explanation of either the videotape, movie, use an interpreter, or provide a demonstration.

Give assignments in written form.

Repeat classmates' comments and questions.

Give the student adequate time to respond to questions.

Site   | Directories
Submit Search Request