When the style of delivery is one of a tutorial or group discussion, there are a number of modifications you will need to implement.  At a minimum, you will need to ensure that there is clear turn-taking and that people do not talk over one another.  As well, you may need to consider re-arranging the classroom into a horseshoe shape rather than having students sit in rows, one behind the other.

When the classroom delivery includes presentation by you, demonstration or both, you also need to compartmentalise sections providing for clear separation between what you say and what you show (for example, a PowerPoint presentation) or demonstrate.  Specifically, please:

  • allow for reading time of new PowerPoint slides before you speak to the slide and in demonstrations, explain what you will do, show it and then explain it again
  • provide the deaf student with soft or hard copies of any materials
  • provide any support staff with soft or hard copies of materials – if they have these before the class, they can prepare
  • use captioned DVDs whenever possible
  • avoid using the auto caption on YouTube clips

In addition, for a deaf student who is lipreading and/or using technology to access your spoken words, please be mindful that you:

  • need to face the students whenever you speak (that is, you cannot make notations on a whiteboard whilst speaking – complete all writing before turning back to the students to elucidate, but it is not necessary to constantly maintain eye contact with your deaf student); similarly, making comments as you move about the room is not advised as the deaf student has not been cued to look at you to lipread
  • may need to wear a special transmitter (similar to a microphone) that interacts with the technology used by the deaf student
  • may need to re-phrase something you have said, if the student asks for clarification

Also be aware that background noise can significantly interfere with a deaf student’s ability to access the spoken word.

In terms of classroom interaction, you will need to modulate classroom discourse and interaction.  This will vary depending upon how the deaf student communicates, but generally you will need to consider the following:

  • asking students to raise their hands to comment or respond and then calling on them by name, as this will allow a deaf student who is lipreading to look to the right speaker; it also provides you with the opportunity to see how many students feel confident that they know the material
  • repeating or summarising the questions or comments made by the students – this would be done to make them accessible to the deaf student (e.g. if the student asking a question or making a comment is behind the deaf student), but would have the potential to also make the questions or comments more accessible to the entire cohort
  • actually calling on students to comment or respond; this has the extra benefit of allowing you to check for learning across your cohort as well as providing for a more even level of student participation
  • reminding students from time-to-time that only one should speak at a time
  • whether a student is lipreading or watching an Auslan/English interpreter, it usually takes a few extra seconds for a deaf student to internalise what has been said, so by you pacing the classroom discourse, you are providing the deaf student with a greater opportunity to contribute to the discussion and, thus, more equitable access

As every deaf student’s communication and classroom participation needs are different, the best approach is to speak with the deaf student and ask him or her to explain their needs and preferences.

Interpreters and Notetakers

In an interactive learning environment, the need to work with interpreters and/or notetakers is highly variable.  Dependent factors include your deaf student’s communication needs as well as the type of interactive environment it is.  You can find information specific to each environment by clicking on the links below:

To understand the role of interpreters and notetakers more generally, [see more].

Click here to download a deafConnectEd information sheet on working with interpreters and click here to download a deafConnectEd information sheet on working with notetakers.