Including Deaf and Hard of Hearing Kids in the Classroom

Are you a teacher who has a deaf or hard of hearing child in your classroom this year? Here are some tips plus resources available on the web.

School students with raised hands, back view
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Tips for Inclusion

Give deaf/hoh child seat in front or near the front. This one is just common sense because the deaf/hoh student needs to be able to see the teacher and blackboard (or whiteboard) clearly.

Be careful about turning your back, because then the deaf/hoh child cannot read your lips. Face a deaf/hoh student when talking to them directly.

Talk directly to the child, not to the interpreter (if there is an interpreter). It is important to do this so that the child feels part of the class.

To reduce the risk of a deaf/hoh child being bullied, encourage the child or child's parents to explain deafness/hearing loss to the class.

Always write tests, quizzes, and homework assignments on the board.

If you have a mustache and the deaf/hoh child reads lips, consider shaving it off or reducing it to a small enough size that does not hinder lipreading.

If the class is watching a film, either make sure the film is captioned or provide the child with a copy of the script.

Do not treat a deaf/hoh child any differently from the hearing children. That means no special treatment.

Request the assistance of an itinerant teacher or resource teacher. They may have more suggestions and be able to provide assistance.

If a website used in the classroom has only audio, make notes for the deaf/hoh student.

Provide an older deaf/hoh student with note-takers, either peer or professional.

Be aware of the importance of classroom acoustics, as it has an impact on how much the deaf/hoh student is able to hear.

Resources on the Web

Further suggestions can be found on the following web resources:

  • Hands and Voices has a PDF, "Mainstreaming the student who is deaf or hard of hearing: A guide for professionals, teachers, and parents." Pages 17-20 are especially useful for teachers.

Books and Articles

Our Forgotten Children: Hard Of Hearing Pupils In The Schools (Third Edition) (compare prices), is published by the AG Bell Association. This book has become a classic, discussing the needs of hard of hearing children who can be overlooked. One article is "Investigating Good Practice in Supporting Deaf Pupils in Mainstream Schools," Educational Review, v53 n2 p181-89 Jun 2001. The abstract states that it is a survey that identified best practices for meeting the needs of deaf students in the mainstream.

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