Communication: Introduction

This section provides strategies for dealing with the communication challenges you may face when Deaf/HH students are in your course.

Communication is fundamental to the academic success of all students but it is often taken for granted. In environments where all students study and attend classes together, the assumption that communication “just happens” can be detrimental. While having an interpreter or captionist in the classroom enhances access, it does not address all aspects of accessibility. A truly accessible classroom environment requires thought, planning, conscious effort and teamwork.

Some strategies focus on mindset and attitude, while others are more behavior and action-oriented.

Perhaps the real key to successful communication is to be positive, flexible, and open to experience, and to respect and appreciate differences.

Related Video: 
As a deaf student, what would you like your professor to know about accommodations in the classroom that would be helpful to you? - Kyle

Finding Material

We’ve organized the material in this web site into short, readable sections with names like “Lighting,” “Safety,” and “Group Work.” As you seek information about challenges you face centering on deaf and hard-of-hearing students look for words in the four columns above that match your particular situation.

Think of the topics in the menu at left like a large collection of suggestions that can help you in the teaching/learning process with your deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Under each topic you’ll find material organized into challenges and accompanying strategies. You’ll also find links to related topics in the collection, as well as occasional video segments that help to clarify the issue.

In addition there are occasional handouts. These are provided for your use, and are provided in a format that will allow you to open those files, modify them as needed, and they distribute them to your students. For example there is a handout with communication interaction rules for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing students when working together in groups.


We’re always interested in knowing what you think. If you don’t find a topic that relates to the issue you face, or if the material is not helpful (or even if it is), please contact us. We’ll help if we can.