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Communication Tips for Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Many factors affect communication in the classroom such as the professor, classroom setting and type of class.  The suggestions offered are designed to help you, the student, get the most out of the classroom experience.

Meet with Your Professors

It is recommended that you meet with your professors before the semester begins to clarify any accommodations you may need to make the most of your participation in the classroom.  It is also helpful to meet with your professors regularly throughout the semester.  You don’t always have to have an “urgent problem” to meet with a professor and discuss the course, or get additional support.  It also allows the professor to get feedback on how you feel communication is going.  Additionally, professors will be impressed with your motivation for learning.


In many classes, you may want to sit in the front row.  You may however prefer to sit in the second or third row so you can observe classmates and the dynamics of the class environment.  Take this into consideration on the first day of class so that you can select the seating location that best fits your needs for the lecture and classroom participation.

Classroom Discussion

If you are taking a class that includes discussion or participation, you may want to suggest to the professor a seating arrangement that will match your communication needs.  The most effective arrangement for group discussion is a circle or semi-circle.  Discuss your needs with the professor any time the seating arrangement in the class does not meet your needs.

Questions and Comments

If you are taking a class that is primarily lecture, which most university classes are, students will make comments and have questions during class.  You may want to ask the professor to repeat comments or questions made by other students so you can be sure you heard or understood what was being said.  This can be done very discreetly and usually benefits other students in class.


If you rely on an interpreter or on speech reading, it will be important for you to have adequate lighting during slide presentations or videos.  Be sure to communicate this need to your professors early in the semester so they can be aware of this lighting need and make modifications if necessary.  You may want to remind them from time to time of your need for adequate lighting.

Additionally, make sure that your professor or interpreter is not standing in front of a window.  The glare from light coming from behind a speaker or interpreter can cause eye fatigue and make communication more difficult.  If the blinds or windows need to be adjusted, inform the professor.

Read before Class

Completing assigned reading before class is a good suggestion for all students.  This study strategy will help you become familiar with the topic of discussion and prepare you for specialized vocabulary that will be used during the class lecture.  It will also aid in better comprehension of material.

Outside Assignments

It is a good idea to find out early in the semester if outside assignments will be required for class (e.g. guest speaker, movie, and lecture).  If you use interpreters in class, be sure to request an interpreter from ODS at least 72 hours in advance of any event scheduled outside of the regular class time.

Get to Know Other Students

Fellow classmates can be a valuable source of information.  Talk with them about the course, discuss any problems you are having, and listen to any problems they are experiencing.  Exchange phone numbers with others in your class. A strong network among students can greatly enhance your learning and provide a system of support.

Assertive Listening

For students who are deaf or hard of hearing, university courses can be challenging at times.  Below are some suggestions to help maximize communication and allow you to take full advantage or your education here at Texas State.

  • You may need to explain to certain individuals that you rely on speech reading and body language when communicating.
  • You may want to ask the professor for an outline of the lecture in advance so that you will have a general overview of the material to be covered.
  • Ask others to face you if you rely on speech reading, or if you are having difficulty hearing them.
  • Remind the individual to avoid covering his or her face or lips when speaking.
  • If you use interpreters, you may want to briefly explain the role of the interpreter.
  • Interrupt, if necessary, and ask an individual to repeat or rephrase.
  • Move to quiet areas for important conversations.
  • You may want to ask the professor for an outline of the lecture in advance so that you will have a general overview of the material to be covered.
  • Meet with professors before classes begin to discuss your communication needs.
  • If in doubt, repeat the information back to the individual to make sure you understand correctly.

Visit with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator/Interpreter Coordinator

Whether you are deaf or hard of hearing, the ODS Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator/Interpreter Coordinator is available to discuss your communication and learning needs.  Feel free to make an appointment at any time.  Stop by to get information, give feedback, share frustrations or accomplishments.  TheDeaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator/Interpreter Coordinator also has resource materials on a number of study and organizational skills.  Information is also available on services available at Alkek Library and other university departments