Teaching tips for students who are hard of hearing


Students who are hard of hearing (HOH) often rely on speech reading or “reading lips”.  As approximately 30% of the English language is formed within the oral cavity and not visible on the mouth, this method of accessing spoken information results in a great deal of missed or misinterpreted information.   The ability to speech read is greatly affected by accents, facial hair, room acoustics, room size, lighting, classroom set-up, familiarity with the topic, and the student’s own speech reading ability. Please refer to the following information in working with students who are hard of hearing.

Please speak only when facing the class, and not while writing on a white board .  Appropriate accommodations for students who are HOH may include:

Preferential seating: Some students who are HOH benefit from sitting near the front/side of the classroom to follow lectures and discussion. This is a personal decision and is the responsibility of the student.

Note taking: Students who are HOH are unable to read speech or captioning while simultaneously taking notes, they may benefit from a note taker. Disability Services will make these arrangements, but will often seek recommendations from faculty.  The expectation is students should receive an electronic copy of class notes within 24 hours of the lecture. Note takers are paid by Disability Services.

Testing accommodations:   Hearing loss often affects one’s use of language, reading comprehension and test-taking skills.  Decisions about additional time for testing are made on a case by case basis.

Assistive Listening Devices: Some students who are hard of hearing may use FM systems. FM systems utilize wireless technologies to amplify the speaker’s voice via a lapel or independent microphone, and may be effective for students who have residual hearing. Individuals with hearing loss often do not communicate using sign language. Their preferred mode of communication is to utilize their residual hearing with or without amplification or assistive listening devices, speech reading, and speech-to-text accommodations.

Captioned Media : Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 protects qualified individuals from discrimination on the basis of their disability.  All educational material, including audiovisual media, must be accessible.  The term media includes films, videotapes, CD’s DVD’s, streamed digital media, e.g. you tube, live webinars, or any other material containing audio.   Only captioned media should be shown in class and assigned as course requirements if a student who is deaf or hard of hearing is enrolled in the course.   Disability Services can assist faculty in obtaining captioned versions of inaccessible media with a few weeks advance notice. 

If you are unsure how to respond to a request for access to a course, program or activity, please contact the Director of Disability Services at 717-361-1227 or by email at daviesl@etown.edu

Portions of the above information have been adapted from PEP Net, which offers consultation, training, professional development, technical assistance and other resources to educational institutions