Best practice tips for Deaf, deaf and hard of hearing

Best practice tips are strategies that have been evaluated in other settings, target a relevant factor (such as a teaching style that lowers student anxiety), or is considered best practice by experts in the field.

Consider the environment

Students may benefit from a text-rich environment. Consider including visual schedules and posters to illustrate key learning concepts and activities.

The physical classroom space may need to be rearranged. This is so that students are positioned where they can easily see both you and their peers.

Encourage students to sit towards the front of the classroom and at an angle that works best for them.

Check the classroom has plenty of light. That way the student can better see visual material and demonstrations. This will also help with lip-reading or if an interpreter is present.

When communicating with the student, check that you are not standing directly in front of windows and light sources.

Be aware of noise levels. Noisy environments may distract students who use hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive listening devices.

Remove distractions. Students with communication disorders might be easily distracted by objects both inside and outside the classroom environment. Consider sitting the student away from, or with their back to, the windows.

Consider adjustments to activities

Provide frequent rest breaks. Lip reading can take a lot of concentration and some students may need breaks to manage fatigue.

Consider how you communicate and give instructions

Change topics slowly. It may be helpful to pause before starting a new subject during classroom discussions. Consider explaining what is being discussed to the student or providing brief clues.

Check that you have the student’s attention. When giving instructions or communicating with the student, maintain eye contact and check that the student can see your face and mouth. It may be helpful (particularly for students who lip read) to avoid moving around the classroom when speaking.

Consider speaking at a slower pace. This could help students who lip-read to understand what is being said. Try not to shout or exaggerate how slow you speak. Discuss with the student the pace that works best for them.

Repeat and rephrase instruction. Some students may need instructions to be repeated. Consider how to present the information in a different and simpler way rather than repeat the same information in the same way.

Check for understanding. Frequently check in with the student to see if they understand the tasks they need to complete. Consider how this can be done without the student feeling singled out.

Consider how to get the student’s attention. Before speaking with the student, you may need to get their attention first. This might be by standing close to them. Ask the student how they would like you to gain their attention. 

Consider providing written copies of lesson notes. This might be helpful for students who lip read. Consider providing notes or encouraging another student to assist with note taking.