Working with Deaf Students

  • Be as visual as possible.
  • Write new information, vocabulary and assignments on the board.
  • To ensure you have the full attention of the student, refrain from asking questions when the students are engaged in an activity; i.e. reading or taking notes from the board.
  • Call on Deaf students to answer questions and make remarks just as you would any other student.
  • Be aware that the interpreter will always be 1 or 2 sentences behind the speaker. Allow the interpreter the time needed to relay the information to allow the Deaf student time to answer questions and/or make comments.
  • Give examples of what you are talking about in order to clarify your point.
  • Be sensitive to the support services the student uses. If straying from the usual class format, notify the student and the Interpreter/CART provider in advanced for support service adjustments.
  • When showing videotapes, try to obtain a copy that is close captioned.
  • Be aware that English is a second language for many Deaf students. Some of the Deaf students acquired American Sign Language (ASL) as their first language. ASL has its own syntax and grammar which is different from English. For this reason, Deaf students’ writing, reading and comprehension may resemble that of ESL students. There may be difficulties regarding reading and understanding written material and test questions. Encourage students who seem to be having difficulties to attend tutorials. If needed, have the test questions interpreted.
  • Be aware that not only are there language differences, there are also cultural differences. These differences may arise when talking about topics that relate to music, movies and other aspects of the American culture. Check for understanding.

Working with Interpreters/CART Providers

  • Interpreters are professionals, trained in Deaf Culture and Interpreting. They adhere to a Code of Ethics (National Association of the Deaf and Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc,
  • Interpreters are in your class to facilitate communication between the Deaf student(s) and the hearing students and faculty. S/he is not a mentor or a disciplinarian. Everything said in class will be interpreted.
  • When interacting with a Deaf student, don’t face the interpreter. Face the Deaf student and speak directly to the student. Avoid saying, “tell him” or “ask her.”
  • The interpreter may, at times, ask you to clarify or repeat information.
  • In order for the Interpreter to prepare adequately, when possible provide them with handouts prior to their usage in the classroom so that they will have thorough knowledge of tools and materials when communicating with the student. When preparing handouts, provide the interpreter with copies of the material. If possible, do this the class prior to handing them out to the students. This allows the interpreter to prepare adequately.
  • Allow the interpreter to sit/stand close to you.
  • Speak at a normal rate of speed.

More Communication Tips

  • Remember to face the student and talk directly to the student. Eye contact is very important.
  • Be sure to get the person’s attention before starting to talk with him/her. Some Deaf people get some information through sound; however, shouting distorts both the sound of words and lip movements.
  • Not all Deaf people are able to read lips. Only 40% of the English language is visible on the mouth. Pencil and paper can become a handy tool to write notes back and forth.
  • When engaging in oral communication with a student be sure to enunciate as you would normally and try to avoid exaggerating your lip movements.
  • Make sure the Deaf student can see your mouth and face clearly. Eating, smoking, chewing gum or holding your hands in front of your mouth while you talk is a distraction.

Deaf Culture Information

Many people in this country consider being Deaf not a physical condition, but an ethnic identity. Those who accept this identity, view themselves as belonging to a proud and distinctive subculture group known as the Deaf Community, composed of people who use American Sign Language as their primary means of communication. The Deaf Community has over the past 150 years developed a rich social life and folklore. Through their own efforts to meet their needs, Deaf people have organized a nationwide and international network of social, religious, athletic, dramatic, scholarly, and literary organizations serving local, national and international memberships.

Deaf people communicate in different ways, depending on:
Age of onset of deafness, type of deafness, language skills, personality, intelligence, family environment, and educational background.

Some Deaf people use speech only, some will use a combination of American Sign Language, fingerspelling and speech, and others will write or use body language and facial expressions. It is important to remember that it is not how you exchange ideas, but that you do exchange ideas.

Thank you for all you do for the students at Richland College! Any questions regarding this information please contact Lindsay DeMoss at (972) 761-6767 or email