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Supporting Effective Teaching Experiences with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

Misconceptions About Deaf/HH Students

What are some of the early misconceptions you had about having deaf students in your classroom?

Click on the images below to see video of the teacher's comments.

Mike Slifka
Manufacturing & Mechanical Engineering, College of Applied Science & Technology
Photo of Mike SlifkaI’m Professor Mike Slifka, I’m over with CAST and MMETPS. The misconceptions were that it was going to be really different, it was going to be really difficult and there’s nothing really difficult about it, besides the fact that you have to pay attention to make sure they’re understanding things. The fact that we have, not only interpreters in the classroom, that sometimes we have C-Print people in the classroom, that helps tremendously. And that’s a great opportunity to get through and communicate with the students. It would be really hard if you were trying to communicate on your own with them. So, the fact that they have support there, in the classroom, what you have to make sure is that you're not going too fast, you’re making sure everybody gets the same information. I think if we have new faculty coming in, and it’s their first time experiencing that, try to communicate through the interpreters to the students, find out a little about them, but don’t treat them differently, they’re no different, they’re no different than anybody else.

Carol Marchetti
Statistics, College of Science
Photo of Carol MarchettiHi, I’m Carol Marchetti. I’m associate professor of Statistics in the College of Science. When I first came to RIT and my very first quarter, I had some deaf students in some of my courses and I think I thought somehow they were different from hearing students and I’m not exactly sure what that was. That I think somehow they thought differently, or they were dedicated differently to their studies. But over time, I realized that they come in every variety, just like hearing students do. Ones that are really good, ones that are not as good. Ones that are really serious, ones that are not as serious. And I think one of the things that I also discovered is that they talk in class too. And it took a deaf student who’s pulled me aside after class to say, “You need to know, they aren’t talking about the class and they sign really big and that’s just like talking loud. It’s very distracting, you should so something about it.” Wow, I had no idea.

Eileen Feeney Bushnell
Foundation Program, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences
Photo of Eileen Feeney BushnellHi my name is Eileen Feeney Bushnell I’m an Associate Professor and I teach in the foundation program in the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. I think that you have to keep in mind that the kid comes before any of the other qualifications, deaf, hard of hearing, they’re kids first they’re students first. They are here because they have tested in, created a portfolio they are here for that first just as everybody else is. And that although it takes more time, it’s worth it.

Dawn Carter
Biology, School of Life Sciences, College of Science
Photo of Dawn CarterHi I’m Doctor Dawn Carter. I teach biology in the school of life sciences in the College of Science. I had some misconceptions from other people saying, “Well, some of the deaf students are slower. Some of them need a lot more time.” And in some cases, yes, but no more than some of the hearing students. In other cases, they’re very, very bright and need extra. So yes, there are some misconceptions but some of them are not true.