Effective communication is the key to teaching deaf students. This is true for yourself, as their lecturer or seminar tutor, and also for their fellow students when engaged in discussion or group activities. Tutors have a responsibility to ensure good communication in their lectures, and to facilitate it in the interactive setting of a seminar, tutorial or group discussion.
Communication skills and needs vary for each deaf student depending on factors such as
how well they lip-read
what useful hearing they have
their level of skill in British Sign Language (BSL)
the non-verbal cues that are available in any given situation.
Many people are unsure how to communicate effectively with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing and are anxious about whether they are doing the right thing. However, deaf students usually develop strategies to achieve effective communication, so wherever possible take the lead from them, and ask if you are not sure. Be aware that many deaf students use more than one communication strategy at a time.
A deaf student may need to book an interpreter or note taker in order to communicate with you outside formal learning situations. You may need to book a room that has an induction loop rather than use your own office, although if a portable system is available then meetings can be held in a variety of places. You might not be able to meet in a communal space because it may be too noisy.
A useful way to communicate with deaf students is by e-mail, and text messages can be used to make arrangements. Find out if a minicom (text) telephone is available for you to use, or you may need to use the RNID Typetalk service.
Be sensitive to the issues brought to you by deaf students and the difficulties they may experience with communication and use of English. If their learning support arrangements are not working they may wish to discuss this with you and it may be sensible for you to recommend that they also talk to a disability officer. Deaf students may derive considerable benefit from working with a specialist tutor, who may be able to support their development of study skills.
Be patient and friendly and take time to communicate. If a deaf student cannot understand you
Here are some general good practice points to help you to communicate more effectively with your deaf students.
The following links take you to detailed guidance on how to communicate effectively with deaf and hard of hearing students who are using various communication strategies. This understanding can be applied to a range of teaching and learning situations, from formal lectures to informal group work.
What we need for good communication (PDF, 228kb) is a useful resource.
The Open University guidance notes for deaf and hard of hearing students and their tutors may also be useful - Hear to Help (PDF, 570kb) .
Learning, teaching and assessment: good practice guides for staff teaching d/Deaf students in art, design and communication and science and engineering by Judith Mole and Diane Peacock, are available from the University of Wolverhampton.