Your deaf student will be communicating in one of two main ways. S/he may be using oral communication (lipreading and speech) [see more] or s/he may be using Auslan and communicating through an interpreter [see more].
Regardless of how your deaf student communicates, one of the things that you may need to change – depending upon your delivery style – is where you position yourself in the room when you teach. That is, if you tend to move about the room, talking as you go and/or drawing attention to information as you interact individually with students, then you will need to be more mindful of your deaf student and how s/he is communicating and you may need to temper your delivery style.
Why is moving about the room and talking problematic?
For a student who is lipreading, this adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging task [see more]. As you move, your face may not always be visible or the lighting behind you may change in a way to make lipreading difficult. As well, if your deaf student also uses residual hearing, s/he will have sat in the best position to hear you. If you move about, less will be heard.
For a student who is using an interpreter, it becomes more difficult to stay “connected” to you. Most likely, the interpreter would maintain his or her position at the front of the room and interpret from there. This gives your deaf student access to your words, but not to you. The learning relationship is between you and your deaf student, not between the interpreter and your deaf student. If you have moved to another part of the room and then spoken from there, the learning relationship is eroded and it can appear to your student that it is the interpreter with whom s/he is interacting.
The ideal change on your part would be to only speak to the students when you are at the front of the room. If you find that there are comments to add as you are moving about the room, interacting individually with students – for example, a comment about the work they are currently undertaking – then ideally, you would move back to the front of the room to speak or make a note of the comment you wish to make to all of the students and wait until you are back at the front, gain everyone’s attention and then make the comment(s).
Depending upon a number of factors, though – for example, the layout of the room or the “urgency” that you may attach to the comment you wish to make – it may not be that feasible to return to the front of the classroom. If you are going to make comment from wherever you are in the room, ensure that you have first gained your deaf student’s attention before you begin to speak. For further information on the best way to gain the attention of your deaf student, click here.