ABLE for the Deaf Adult Learner

One Teachers Experiences
Classroom Strategies I
Classroom Strategies II
Curriculum Resources
Technological Devices
Working With Interpreters
Web Resources

ABLE for the Deaf Adult Learner

Classroom Strategies I

by Veronica Rashleigh

The following include some common situations you may face in your classroom and some suggested strategies for handling them.

1. There are over 40 people in my class...

  • Devise a set of hand signals and/or gestures to get the students' attention.
  • Set up a buddy system pairing a hearing person with a deaf or hard of hearing person to assist with questions, assignments, etc.
  • Deaf people will be aware of situational changes. If everyone in the class is facing forward and appears to be getting ready for work, the deaf person will do the same.
  • Establish routines for beginning and ending of class.
    • For example: first, take attendance; second, check homework; third, share information, etc.
    • This allows everyone in the class to attend to the content and not worry about the circumstances of the environment.
2. The deaf person appears bored...
  • Check on the student's understanding of what is going on in the class.
  • Check to see if the goals and objectives for participation and learning are clear.
  • Check the level of participation of the deaf students. They may be unsure of how to participate in the class and need some direction from you (the teacher) in order to become more involved.
  • Arrange materials and assignments so that all students experience frequent small successes. That will make them eager to be involved in the class.
  • Use visual enhancements as much as possible -- charts, graphs, overheads, video tapes, etc.
  • Make sure that arrangement of chairs is conducive to class interaction if that is part of the course.
  • The deaf or hard of hearing person may simply not be interested.
3. The interpreter didn't show up...
  • Don't panic.
  • Arrange for another student to take notes for the deaf person.
  • Show a captioned movie or video tape.
  • Change seating arrangement (if possible) to allow the deaf or hard of hearing person to sit closer to you.
4. The class is a lab and I must lecture while the students are performing the experiment...
  • Request a note taker for the deaf person.
  • Pause more frequently so the deaf person can look at the interpreter.
  • Make an outline or provide additional reading materials for outside the class.
5. I am giving a written test, but I know that English is not the student's first language...
  • Give the test orally.
  • Rely on the integrity of the interpreter to sign the test without giving away any of the answers.
  • Give the test as a take-home exam to allow sufficient time.
6. I am using slides as part of my presentation so I must turn off the overhead lights...
  • Think ahead and obtain a small light on a stand that will illuminate only the interpreter.
  • Leave just the back lights on in the class.
7. I want to make sure that the deaf and/or hard of hearing person really understands what is going on in my class...
  • Avoid asking questions that require a simple yes or no answer. Ask open ended questions like "What do you think," or "What is your opinion?" These types of questions allow the teacher to see if the question was accurately understood.
  • If you think your question was not understood, rephrase it using different words.
  • Use as much visual stimulation as possible.
  • Provide outlines of what will be covered in class.
  • Encourage class participation on the part of the deaf and/or hard of hearing person.

Used with permission. Veronica Rashleigh can be contacted directly at

Ohio Resource Center Network Ohio Higher Ed
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