Animated Gestures


Suppose that you’re an expressive person and use hand movements, facial expressions, and gestures while presenting. You use body language to convey information— to emphasize or downplay the importance of a point, to indicate disappointment with a student’s response, or even to call a class to order.

Deaf/HH students, because they may be vigilant to movement as an information source, are drawn to your gestures. However, if students are not watching the interpreter or captioning because of professor movement, they may be missing important information. Alternately, students who are watching the interpreter or captioning may miss clues that you convey through gesture and expression.


You don't need to change your presentation style; however, when Deaf/HH students are in your classes, you may need to adapt. Here are suggestions:

  • If demonstrating something with your hands, wait for the interpreter/captionist to direct the students’ gaze to you. Demonstrate, pause and redirect the students to the interpreter/captionist.

  • When you want students’ attention, do not rely on physical movement only. You may also voice a comment. While interpreters can incorporate body language, they may not be positioned to see your movements. What you say is interpreted/captioned to Deaf/HH students, providing them with the same access that hearing students have.

  • Try to limit movement that does not signal where students should look, or isn’t used to communicate information. Make movement, especially hand movement, purposeful.

Related Video: 
How do you feel about teachers who use animated gestures while lecturing? Does that contribute to, or impede, your learning? - Jonathan