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Best Practices for Accessible Instruction

Deaf and Hard of Hearing 

The National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC) reports that over 200,000 deaf and hard of hearing students are enrolled nationally in colleges, and 74% of deaf college students consider online learning harder than traditional learning” (NDC, 2020). To provide access to and accommodations for in-person or remote instruction, the following guidance is for teaching students in the classroom who are deaf or hard of hearing:   

  • While COVID-19 restrictions are in place, use of a clear face mask that has been vetted by the University (see PPE Guidance) as opposed to a cloth mask will provide students with the opportunity to view facial expressions and read lips for best comprehension. SDR will contact course instructors to coordinate use and provision of clear face masks.  

  • Try to avoid standing with your back to a window or other light source. 

  • Face the student and minimize pacing to the extent possible, and avoid blocking areas of your mouth with hand or objects.   

  • Identify yourself as a speaker and ask students in the class to do the same before talking or asking questions. This assists a deaf student who cannot look around a room to see who is speaking.  Repeat questions or comments made by other people in the room. 

  • Ensure high quality audio, speak clearly with or without the use of a microphone, and consider the rate of your speech. 

  • Turn on cameras during remote instruction and position camera to capture a full view of your face to provide students with opportunities to view facial expressions and read lips. 

  • Just like you would welcome a sign language interpreter or captionist into your physical classroom, provide access to remote interpreters or captionists who may be connecting to your virtual course to work with enrolled students (e.g., password sharing if the course access is protected; use the Zoom “raising your hand” feature to facilitate an interpreter voicing for a deaf student; pause after showing content on the screen or typing in the chat feature to allow time for communication and exchange of information between interpreter and student).   

  • Use audio transcription for all Zoom cloud recordings to promote accessibility ( SDR will assist in coordinating the provision of course captioning that is more sufficient than Zoom audio transcription when an accommodation based on individualized need is identified.  Remember that captioning provides access to audience members beyond those who are deaf or hard of hearing (e.g., all audience members when audio quality is poor or the environment is noisy, non-native speakers of English).   

  • Record class sessions and allow students access to recordings to fill in gaps of missed material, such as in a transcript or having something interpreted again. 

  • Be flexible and receptive to feedback!  Ask students to inform you if they are unable to access course instruction or participate in communication.  Be willing to adapt to changing needs over the course of the semester. 

For other helpful strategies, please view: