Regardless of how your deaf student communicates – and thus, how they are accessing your classroom – it is essential that you manage any classroom interaction to ensure that only one person is speaking at a time.

For a deaf student who is using lipreading to participate in class, this is important in order for them to only have to look at one person at a time.

For a deaf student who is using an interpreter to participate in class, this is important because the interpreter can only interpret one voice at a time.

Some of the time, teachers can feel as though they stifle student’s participation by insisting on clear turn-taking boundaries.  For a number of reasons, this is not actually the case; these are:

  • if more than one person is talking at the same time, everyone will miss out on something that is said
  • in such situations, it is often the loudest voice that is heard and the contribution of the student with a softer voice is usually lost
  • it is the case in every classroom that some students participate more willing and/or more frequently than others do; by managing the classroom interaction, you are actually providing an opportunity for all students to participate and “chime in”
  • by you controlling which students provide input, you actually have an opportunity to call upon different students and this allows you to check on content comprehension and understanding

Some of the ways that you can modulate the interaction is to:

  • ask students to raise their hands and then you call on them
  • call on students yourself to elicit comments or to ask them to respond to specific questions
  • use the student’s name when calling on him or her; this will help the deaf student who is lipreading to have a “heads up” to try to locate who will be speaking next and it creates a greater rapport with all of your students
  • help the students to maintain a slightly slower pace by also pacing your own communications (note: this does not mean to drastically slow your pace; rather, to simply slow it slightly with a few extra breaths)


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