Working with Deaf Students


  • Deaf and hard of hearing students should adhere to the same classroom policies regarding tardies, absences, participation in class and general expectations. A deaf student signing in class out of turn should be dealt with in the same manner a non-deaf student talking.
  • Call on deaf students to answer questions and participate in class.
  • Become familiar with note-taking procedures, key differences between English and American Sign Language, captioned videos, and other available resources.

Instructors must caption all videos in order for deaf students to be able to access the course material. Please request captioning here.

Working with Students Who Use ASL and/or an Interpreter

  • Speak to the student, not to the interpreter; however, the student typically will look at the interpreter while you are talking.
  • ASL does not have a gender-specific pronoun; when speaking to the deaf student with an interpreter, use "I" and "you" instead of "tell him..." or "ask her...."
  • A majority of ASL grammar is derived from specific facial expressions, mouth movements, descriptive hand shapes and use of space, not from individual words/signs. ASL does not use articles (a, an, the), and uses only an active voice.
  • Some cultural references to music, films, literature, and even humor may not be understood when translated for ASL.

See Working with ASL Interpreters for related information.

Working with Students Who Do Not Use Sign Language

Some students lip-read, however, many words appear the same. Follow these tips:

  • Look directly at the student when speaking. Don’t speak with your back to the student when writing on the board.
  • Speak in a normal tone unless asked otherwise - don't shout or exaggerate mouth movements.
  • Repeat questions asked by other students.
  • Try rephrasing instead of repeating if a student does not understand you.
  • When checking for understanding, avoid asking yes/no questions.
  • Extraneous noises such as coughing, paper shuffling, or an airplane overhead can interfere with communication. Hearing aids can amplify these sounds.

 Helpful Links