About this factsheet
This factsheet is part of RNID's
education range. It is written for lecturers working in Further and Higher
Education who teach deaf students. We use the term deaf students to refer to
deaf, deafened and hard of hearing students throughout this factsheet.
Read this factsheet to find out
Most of the information in
this factsheet constitutes good teaching practice, whether students are
hearing or deaf. However, if you follow the recommendations, you will help
deaf students to participate and gain the maximum benefit from your teaching.
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)
The DDA is divided into three
stages. Since 1 September 2002, it has been unlawful for providers of Further
and Higher Education in England,
Wales and Scotland to
discriminate against deaf and disabled students. Since 1 September 2003,
colleges and Higher Education institutions have been obliged to provide
auxiliary aids and services. This may include providing information in
different ways, for example, using British Sign Language (BSL)/English
interpreters and providing equipment, such as
portable induction loops, radio aids and textphones.
The third stage of the DDA will
come into effect from 1 September 2005. It states that learners should not be
placed at a "substantial disadvantage" because service providers
have not made "reasonable adjustments" to physical features of their
premises. These reasonable adjustments may include fitting electronic display
boards, permanent induction loops and infrared systems. It applies to lecture
theatres, seminar rooms, catering facilities, residential accommodation and
other premises provided wholly or mainly for the use of learners.
The disability or learning
support officer at your college or university should be able to provide you
and your student with further information. However, by following the
recommendations in this factsheet, you’ll help to prevent unlawful
discrimination against deaf students.
For more information, see RNID's
different kinds of support available to deaf students
Find out what communication
support your students need
Each deaf student will have
their own specific communication needs, so you should ask your student what
kind of support they would find most helpful. Remember that different teaching
situations require different strategies to increase a student’s access to
At the end of your first week
with a deaf student, it's a good idea to take time with them to review how
effective and appropriate your teaching strategies are. A flexible approach is
essential to help your student succeed. It may also be a good idea to involve
your student’s disability coordinator in the discussion.
Find out what communication
support your college offers
You should find out what
communication support and equipment for deaf students is available from your
college. Students can apply for funding to help them pay for communication
support or specialist equipment. You may find it helpful to read RNID's
They contain more information
for students in Further and Higher Education.
Disabled students -
including deaf students - get Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA) to pay
for the support or equipment they need while studying in full-time Higher
Most international students are
not eligible for DSA, but they still have rights under the DDA. You should
find out if your institution has any funding or equipment for international
Students in Further Education
who need specialist equipment or support on a course because they are deaf or
hard of hearing should be provided with what they need by their college.
for the successful inclusion of deaf students
There are a number
of methods for including your deaf student and for helping them to get
the most from your lectures and seminars.
Giving your student access to
Access to information is very
important, so try these tips:
- Make sure your deaf student has book lists
well in advance of the beginning of the course. They may rely more
heavily on textbooks than lectures.
- A deaf student cannot make notes and lipread
at the same time. If a handout is not available, and a notetaker has not
been employed to take notes, arrange for another student to photocopy
their notes and pass them on to your deaf student.
- During the lecture, you should make it clear
if a subject is about to change, or a new concept is being introduced, by
writing the topic on the board or holding up an appropriate book or
- It's important that your lecture follows a
logical structure and includes regular opportunities to review the
Using visual aids
Visual aids can be a great help
to deaf students, but they need to be prepared and used appropriately. These
tips may help:
- Overhead projectors (OHPs) are useful as
they allow the lecturer to face students while working. But some models
are noisy and cause problems for students with hearing aids.
- Write important information on the board or
OHP, for example assignments, deadlines and room changes.
- Try to provide a new vocabulary list in
advance, or write words on the board or OHP as they come up.
- Viewing slides in a darkened room is a
particular problem for deaf students. Try to direct a light source on the
speaker or interpreter and turn up the lights when commentary is given.
- Use subtitled versions of videos where
possible. If not, then try to get hold of a transcript of the commentary,
or write your student a synopsis before the lecture.
- If you use audio tapes, your deaf student
will need a transcript before the lecture.
- If you give out a handout during your
lecture, make it clear whether it is to be read immediately - in
which case your deaf student will need time to read it before you
continue speaking - or whether it is to be taken away and read in
the students’ own time.
Working in groups
Group discussions can be
difficult for a deaf student to follow. But there are strategies you can use
to help them to participate fully:
- Make sure other students are aware of your
deaf student's needs.
- Aim to have no more than six to 10
participants in a group.
- Arrange the group in a circle or horseshoe
and ensure that nobody is silhouetted against the light.
- A deaf student may prefer to sit next to the
chair of the group as comments will be directed that way.
- Make sure that your deaf student takes a
turn in chairing discussions.
- It is particularly important for students to
take turns in speaking and to allow your deaf student time to look in
their direction before starting to speak.
- Try to summarise contributions from other
students, so that your deaf student can follow the discussion.
- If a deaf student uses a radio microphone
system or loop system, all contributors to the discussion will need to
speak into the microphone.
Working in practical sessions
These tips should help you in
practical sessions with a deaf student:
- When you are in practical sessions, don't
stand behind a deaf student when they are working. Your student will not
know if you are speaking to them and will have to turn away from their
activity to find out.
- A deaf student cannot lipread you
with their work or observations at the same time.
- During a practical demonstration, make sure
the deaf student can see both what you are saying and what you are doing.
Considerate timetabling can be
of great benefit to a deaf student. Where possible, you should consider the
- Lipreading is very tiring, so try not to
fill an entire day with lectures.
- Communication services must be booked well
in advance. If timetables are changed at short notice, suitable support
may not be available for your student.
- People who provide communication services
usually charge a minimum fee regardless of how short a session they are
booked for. Try to plan sessions to make the most efficient use of their
Choosing a suitable room
Choosing a suitable room for
your lecture can make a big difference to a deaf student. Try these tips:
- Choose a room with good lighting.
- Make sure the room is quiet. Hard of hearing
students are more affected by background noise than their hearing peers.
- Ideally, use a room that has carpets, soft
furnishings and ceiling tiles, all of which help to absorb sound.
- Check which rooms in your college are fitted
with hearing support systems for hearing aid users, and try to book them.
- Try to avoid rooms with bright or
distracting décor as this can make it hard for deaf students to
concentrate on a speaker.
Working on field trips or
You may need to make special
provision for deaf students on field trips or placements. A deaf student who
copes well in a lecture may not be able to manage without additional support
in the open air or in a noisy workplace. Be prepared to be flexible and
discuss possible options with the student well in advance.
The following checklist will be
particularly useful to lecturers who are working with deaf students for the
first time, or to use as a reminder before a new lecture series or term:
- A deaf student will know where it is best
for them to sit: this will often be near the front, slightly to one side
of you. You should stand or sit facing your student, three to six feet
away, at the same level as them.
- Check that the student is looking before you
start to speak. Try not to startle a deaf student by coming up to them
- Face the light: don't position yourself in
front of a bright window or a distracting background.
- If you turn to write on a board or
flipchart, remember not to continue speaking as it's impossible to
lipread the back of your head!
- Don’t obscure your mouth or eat while you're
speaking. Try to keep beards and moustaches trimmed.
- Try to keep bright or light-reflecting
jewellery to a minimum.
- Ensure that background noise is kept to a
- Don’t shout. It distorts your voice and lip
patterns, so speak clearly, with normal
- Remember that sentences and phrases are
easier to lipread than single words.
- If your student doesn't understand
something, then rephrase, rather than repeating what you said.
- Give your student time to absorb what you've
- Avoid exaggerated or misleading facial
expressions, but use gestures where they're relevant.
- If you change the subject, make sure your
deaf student knows.
- Check that your deaf student is following
what you say.
Deaf students may use a range of
different communication services to support their studies. You may find
yourself working alongside a number of people who provide this support.
Communication support workers
Communication support workers
(CSWs) support deaf people, generally in an educational setting. They provide
help with communication between deaf students and their tutor and other
students on the course. The support they offer depends on the individual
student's needs. CSWs may take notes, interpret or communicate in BSL
or Sign Supported English (SSE), or by lipspeaking. For more information,
see RNID's factsheet "Working
with a communication support worker in education".
Deaf people whose first or
preferred language is British Sign Language (BSL) use BSL/English
interpreters. A BSL/English interpreter can make it easier for a deaf sign
language user and a hearing person to communicate with each other. An
interpreter will interpret from one language to another. In the UK, this will
usually be from BSL to spoken or written English, or the other way round. For
more information, see RNID's factsheet "Working
with a British Sign Language/English interpreter".
tips for working with BSL/English interpreters
If you follow these suggestions,
it will make it easier for you, your student and the interpreter:
- Where possible, the interpreter needs to
know the subject and format of the session in advance, as well as any key
vocabulary. Try to give the interpreter any notes, handouts or videos you
intend to use.
- Confirm rest breaks and meal times with your
student and the interpreter. Interpreting is very demanding. The
interpreter will need a break after about 30 minutes. If the lecture programme
is very intensive, you may need two interpreters or to divide the session
with a short break.
- Remember to talk to the deaf student and not
- Everything you say will be interpreted, so
you don't need to give instructions to the interpreter or face them when
- Speak at your normal rate. The interpreter
will tell you if you need to slow down, repeat a sentence or spell a name
or unfamiliar word.
- You should let the interpreter and the
student work out where to sit during the lecture or class.
- It’s only possible to interpret one speaker
at a time and it helps if the other students realise this, so they can
avoid talking over one another.
- Remember that the deaf student will receive
the question slightly after the rest of the group because of the time the
interpretation takes. They need to be given time to respond.
Notetakers are trained to take
accurate and clear notes for deaf people. They do this in handwritten English
or on a laptop computer. If a deaf student is watching a sign language
interpreter or lipspeaker, it's impossible to take notes at the same time. In these situations, having a notetaker means that the student
does not miss out on anything. For more information, see RNID's
factsheet "Working with a notetaker".
Electronic notetakers use a
computer to type a summary of what is being said. This information appears on
a screen for the deaf student to read. Students can ask for a transcript to
help them with their studies.
An electronic notetaker can be
particularly good for a student as the system is interactive, so the student
can type questions for the notetaker to ask, or add their own notes to
the onscreen transcript.
Speech-to-text reporting is
preferable if students would like a word-for-word transcript of everything
said. For more information, see RNID's factsheet "Working with an
A speech-to-text (STT) reporter
uses a special keyboard to type every word that is said. The keyboard is
designed to let the reporter type words phonetically, and so keep up with the
speed of spoken English. Everything that they type appears on a laptop
computer screen. It can also be shown on a larger screen, so that more than one
person can read it. STT reporters are also called palantypists or
stenographers. For more information, see RNID's factsheet "Working with a
Lipspeakers repeat a speaker’s
message to lipreaders accurately, without using their voice. They clearly
produce the shape of the words, and the flow, rhythm and phrasing of natural
speech, and they repeat the stress used by the speaker. Lipspeakers also use
facial expressions, natural gestures and fingerspelling, if requested, to help
the lipreader to understand. You may find RNID's leaflet "Lipreading and lipspeaking"
Useful information from
Headstart is an RNID initiative
which supports deaf people going to university. Headstart can give your
college or university help and advice on deaf awareness.
Telephone: 0114 272 9610 or 0114
Textphone: 0114 272 9610 or 0114 272 8365
Fax: 0114272 8407
Publications from RNID
RNID publishes a number of
useful publications. These can be ordered from the RNID
Information Line or may be available from our online
"Deaf students in further education" is
one of nine RNID Education Guidelines publications supporting the inclusion of
deaf pupils/students in mainstream settings. These guidelines are £5.99 each.
RNID Information Line
The RNID Information Line offers
a wide range of information on many aspects of deafness and hearing loss. You
can contact us for printed copies of this factsheet and the full range of RNID
information factsheets and leaflets.
We have a range of RNID
factsheets about many of the subjects covered in this factsheet. You may also
wish to get RNID's leaflets: