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General Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Accessibility for Students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Q: How will I know how to communicate with a student who is deaf or hard-of-hearing?

A: The deaf student will let you know his/her preferred method of communication, whether it is speaking, reading lips, gesturing, signing, writing, etc. Not all deaf/hard of hearing students know or use sign language.  Do not assume the deaf/hard of hearing student prefers to use an interpreter when communicating.

Q: Can all deaf/hard of hearing people read lips and/or talk?

A: No, this is a common misconception. Some individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can read lips and/or talk, but others cannot. 

Q: How do I talk to a deaf/hard of hearing student when there is an interpreter present?

A: The role of an interpreter is to facilitate communication between the deaf student and the non-signers.  The interpreter will speak in first person as the deaf student.  Please look directly at the student and face him/her when communicating or teaching. Again, speak directly to the deaf student. Also, an interpreter cannot relay a message from you to the deaf student that has missed a class.

Q: Why does the deaf/hard of hearing student look at the interpreter instead of me when I am speaking to him/her?

A: The deaf student cannot hear you or read your lips.  The student receives his/her information visually from the interpreter, not auditory like the hearing students. 

Q: What kind of accommodations should I expect to see if a deaf/hard of hearing student takes my class?

A: Accommodations may include one or more of the following:

  • A request for all media materials (in class or on-line) be captioned,
  • A Roger Pen (wire-less microphone),
  • An interpreter or two,
  • A class note taker (student volunteer), 
  • An in-class or remote CART provider (a certified CART provider listens to speech and instantaneously translates all the speech to text which is displayed on the deaf student’s laptop).

Q: Why can’t the deaf/hard of hearing student, who has an interpreter, watch a video I show (short or long) without captioning?

A: It is difficult for a student to watch an interpreter and a video at the same time.  Therefore, a majority of the information could be lost in translation.  Sometimes a deaf/hard of hearing student may want to try and watch both the interpreter and video with captions.

Q: How do I contact the deaf/hard of hearing student outside of the classroom about assignments or additional  questions/concerns?

A: The easiest form would include email or text messaging.  However, it is possible to call a student if you know his/her phone number with the help of a video relay service (videophone) that employs interpreters to assist with the communication process.

Q: Why do some of my deaf/hard of hearing students have problems with English grammar?

A: For most deaf individuals, American Sign Language (ASL) is their most preferred language.  ASL is a native language with its own grammar, syntax and rules.  Some deaf students try to write English using ASL.  Therefore, written communication may look like “broken English”. 

Q: Do all deaf people have deaf parents?

A: No, it is estimated that 10% of deaf persons come from deaf families, the other 90% are born into hearing families.  Most often, for most of these hearing families, this will be their first introduction to deafness.

Q: I still have more questions. Who should I contact?

A: If you have additional questions about working with deaf/hard of hearing students, the use of interpreters, captioning requirements, Computer-Aided Real-Time Transcription (CART), or assistive listening devices please contact Jeanette Buttram, Interpreter Coordinator, at or (405) 945-3388.