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

Teaching Tips

Question:
If you could make 1 or 2 suggestions to support/assist a new faculty member who has never worked with deaf students, what would they be?

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

Laura Dwyer
Senior Lecturer - SCB
Photo of Laura DwyerI would make sure that first of all you know that names of the students in your classroom. I recommend you know the names of every student in your classroom, but you got to know the names of your deaf and hard of hearing students so that you can make a personal connection with those students. Also, make sure you know the names of the support people, the interpreters in the classroom; you want to connect with them and talk to them as you go through the semester and make sure that if they have questions they are bringing them forward to you. You don't want the students to be talking to the lecturers about issues and then not have it come to you as an instructor. Then the third thing I'd make sure that you know is who the tutor is for your classroom and connect to them as well and keep in touch with that individual.

Sandra Connelly
Instructional Professor - COS
Photo of Sandra ConnellyAsk for feedback from the students what is working, what isn't working, what they like, what don't they like? I often in my class every three or for weeks they get a half sheet of paper that says, what's your favorite thing about the class? What's your least favorite thing about the class? What's working, what's not? And we can make changes there's nothing in my syllabus that says I'm going to lecture the same on day one that I lecture the same on day 41, there's nothing that tells me that. So how do we get it so that it is a comfortable learning environment? And that it works for the majority of people, you're never going to get everybody there's always going to be something that doesn't work for somebody and they don't like it and they want you to go back to what you were doing before, but you have to kind of balance that with the time investment and it's a cost benefit analysis really. How much are you putting in versus how much is that benefiting the students? First is how much is it making things easier and more accessible for you as well as an instructor.

Patricia Iglesias
Associate Professor - COE
Photo of Patricia IglesiasI think one of my recommendations would be collaborate with NTID faculty in the support area, I know that many faculty don't know and new faculty don't know that we do have NTID support faculty to help us. So collaborating with them and give them access to my courses if you are using my courses and let them know the course's structure, how many exams, home works will help them to help the student at the end and that is what we want. In my case I use my courses I think it is a good tool and anything that I do in class I post it in advance on my courses, so if I have a PowerPoint presentation that I use often in my classes, I post them one week in advance because I know some of the deaf students will print them and take notes on the PowerPoint presentation and that's good not only for the deaf, but I know that some hearing students will do that too and that would be another good recommendation.

Philip Gelsomino II
Visiting Lecturer - SCB
Photo of Philip Gelsomino IIWhat I do that I find very helpful is I look at the deaf or hard of hearing students to see whether they are looking up, looking down, or where they're looking and I also look at the interpreters, because the interpreters are watching the students so if the students aren't watching the interpreters they generally stop signing, because they know the student's not looking at them and that's normally my queue to repeat so I am very aware of everyone in the room; hearing, hard of hearing, makes no difference if they're not focused and paying attention I think I'd say to new faculty be aware of what's going on in the classroom, who's paying attention, who's not and specifically what I do is I repeat. So my advice is to pay attention to what's going on in the room and adjust to that.

Scott Franklin
Physics Professor - COS
Photo of Scott FranklinI think the most important thing and this is true with many students, is with deaf students each one is an individual and getting to know them and their particular preferences for communication and for working style. That is probably the most important thing. So taking the time to recognize them and get to know them, do they prefer to interact via email, do they prefer to interact in class beforehand through an interpreter or through transcription. Getting to know them as an individual allows you or enables all of the communication to happen after that so that's the most important thing.

Gina Ferrari
Senior Lecturer - CIAS
Photo of Gina FerrariThe classroom, you know you have students from diverse backgrounds that bring their own personal histories and experiences and deaf culture becomes a part of that and becomes of sort of, it becomes a part of layered nuances of the classroom. So, to realize that and to learn about deaf culture and its rich history and the multi-layers that exist within that culture.

Sharon Mason
Professor - GOL
Photo of Sharon MasonThe first suggestion I would make to any faculty who have deaf students in their classes is to make full use of the interpreters that are available to them and the support staff that are available to them. And make it an exchange of ideas and ask for feedback, particularly from the interpreters as to how things are going in the classroom and how your instruction is. Whether you’re talking too fast, too slow, using too many hand gestures, using words that are not definitive enough for the students to understand. In the College of Computing in particular we use a lot of acronyms. So communicating with the interpreters about how to represent those acronyms can be very useful.

Christine Kray
Professor - COLA
Photo of Christine KrayWhatever you do to enhance access for the deaf students will also benefit the hearing students. Here’s one way that I handle presentations that I think enhances the experience for both the deaf and the hearing students. So we use mycourses a lot and I will require that the students, deaf and hearing students post the text of their presentation to a discussion area in mycourses 24 hours in advance and I explain that this gives the interpreters and the captionists the opportunity to review the materials so that the interpreters are all ready to voice that presentation, the captionists as well, they’re all ready to voice that presentation in advance, alright, so it makes for a stronger, more coherent presentation.