Hearing impairments, describing all types of hearing defects, is the most prevalent chronic physical disability in the United States with millions being affected. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing will typically function very independently in class with one or more of a few basic accommodations. Because there is a wide range of hearing loss from mild to profound, the educational limitations of the student will vary.
The more severe the loss, the more likely it is that the student will have the skills to use a sign language interpreter to facilitate classroom communication. Lighting is very important when communicating with a hearing impaired person. Adequate lighting allows the student to see instructors or a sign language interpreter. Facing students when talking, speaking slowly and not over exaggerating lip movements may be helpful.
Accommodations which instructors may use to support students with communication disabilities may include: use of sign language interpreter, seating near the front of the class, additional pauses during lectures, extended time on exams, patience during in-class questions, and use of assistive listening devices. An instructor will also want to make arrangements with the student regarding in-class discussions.