Statistics show that 1.3% of currently enrolled students are Deaf, with 30.8% of students who are Deaf having a learning disability. With the end of the fall semester approaching, it’s an excellent time for educators to take a closer look at the methods and tools they’ve been using for instruction to ensure they’re meeting the needs of these students.
Along with the increase in distance and hybrid learning, schools are now serving a more diverse student population, many of whom are likely to have a disability. To help students who are Deaf succeed, educators can enlist these strategies to foster positive educational outcomes for these learners.
Tools, Services & Technology to Help Students Who are Deaf
To ensure students who are Deaf are able to reach their academic goals, educators should consider:
- Live Streaming Tools: Live captioning and note taking tools can be integrated into class live streams happening over platforms like Zoom or Webex. These tools ensure students who are Deaf receive equity with the ability to follow along in real-time and participate in class alongside their peers.
- Speakers and Microphones: Some students need their instructor’s speech amplified to be able to understand them. Speakers and microphones should be implemented in classrooms or when hosting virtual courses to ensure strong audio is captured and that students can hear lectures at a higher volume or through an FM system if desired.
- Sign Language Interpreting: Interpreting services are crucial for students who are Deaf that communicate using sign language. Emerging AI sign language technologies allow for more communication between students who are Deaf and other students, but using a professional sign language interpreting service is considered best practice.
- Captioning and Transcription Tools: Adding captions to recorded videos of lectures or videos being shown in class, as well as providing transcripts of everything mentioned in class provides students who are Deaf with more viewing flexibility and references, allowing them to comprehend and study more effectively. Speech-to-text software like AST’s ensures that the needs of students who are Deaf are met with increased engagement and comprehension as a result.
- Interactive Whiteboards: Portable or classroom-installed interactive whiteboards (IWBs) are beneficial for sharing text, audio and video with students in real-time. Students who are Deaf benefit from IWB, as they can sometimes be very visual learners.
Instructional Strategies to Aid Students Who are Deaf
Educators can complement effective technologies with these instructional strategies proven to help students who are Deaf as well:
- Design for Accessibility: Create course content with accessibility in mind from the get-go. Creating accessible versions of content before sharing it will ensure that all students have access. Using caption software like AST’s and scheduling CART live captioning ahead of time for any live streamed classes is best practice.
- Supply Ongoing Support and Assistance: Provide ongoing support to students who are Deaf by offering multiple opportunities to connect. Strategies like setting aside specific times for one-on-one sessions or providing “walk-in” windows where students can log in to a virtual meeting room are useful techniques to keep communication channels clear and be more aware of students who are struggling to make fixes when needed.
- Use Visual Aids When Possible: Create visual aids such as graphics, overhead projectors, diagrams and charts can be useful for students who are Deaf because many benefit from visualizing concepts and ideas.
- Provide Written Resources: Students who are Deaf benefit from receiving their classroom material in a written format to ensure they fully understand their assignments. Written formats provide them with an opportunity to go back and review requirements, for example, if they missed something that was said by the instructor in class.
- Use Accessible Body Language: In addition to using sign language to communicate, some individuals who are Deaf prefer to use lip or speech reading. Making your body language more accessible, like ensuring you face the class when speaking, as well as talking clearly and audibly, are useful techniques to make sure students who are Deaf fully understand what’s being said.
Consider a Partner with Proven Success
Offering multiple learning methods and flexibility are key to ensuring success for students who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing, but having an expert as a partner can make a significant difference.
Automatic Sync Technologies is helping educators at George Brown College, the University of Arizona and many others serve the needs of students who are Deaf and others with disabilities. AST offers accessibility tools like captioning, audio description and transcription, in addition to useful video accessibility expertise that can greatly help.