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Office of Disability Support Services
Faculty Handbook

Hearing Impairments

General Information

Hearing impairment is a broad term that refers to hearing losses of varying degrees from mild to very significant. The major challenge facing students with hearing impairments is communication. Students with hearing impairments vary widely in their communication skill. Age of onset plays a crucial role in the development of language.

Real time captioning -- Some hard of hearing students may use real-time captioning as their access to information. The hard of hearing student and real-time captioner will usually choose to sit in front of the classroom. The real-time captioner shall render as near a verbatim translation as possible, always conveying the content and spirit of the instructor.

Assistive Listening Device (ALD)  -- Students that are hard of hearing might use an Assistive Listening Device (ALD).  The ALD consists of a transmitter worn by the instructor and a receiver/headphone worn by the student.  The transmitter only amplifies the instructor's voice.  It is important when a student is using an ALD for the instructor to repeat questions/statements made by students in the class. For more information go to

Interpreters  --  The deaf/hard of hearing student and the interpreter will usually choose to sit in front of the classroom. The interpreter is aware that sign language may be a distraction to the class and the instructor, but the initial curiosity of the class wanes and the instructor adapts easily to the interpreter's presence. Interpreters are to remain neutral and do not share personal opinions, advice. Interpreters subscribe to a strict code of ethics that requires confidentiality of private communications and honesty in interpretation or translation. (Professional Code of Conduct


Suggested Classroom Accommodations

Information regarding Instructor Memos

The Deaf/hard of hearing student and the interpreter will usually sit in the front of the classroom.

Provide a script or outline of slides, films, or videotaped materials. Captioned films are extremely helpful. Remember to consider the need for lighting. Equipment for showing captioned films can be obtained from Media Services.
Go to for more information.

Establish a system of contacting the deaf/hard of hearing student (see contact information below) and the interpreter with advance notice of class cancellations.

There is a time lag, which will vary in length depending upon the situation, between the spoken word and the interpretation or translation. Thus, a deaf/hard of hearing student's contribution to the lecture or discussion may be slightly delayed.

Since it is difficult to follow an interpreter and take notes at the same time, most deaf/hard of hearing students use a note taker in class. Note takers are volunteers from the class. NCR (carbonless paper) paper is available to the student through ODSS.

Assumptions should not automatically be made about a student with a hearing impairment and their ability to participate in certain types of classes. The deaf/hard of hearing student may be able to learn much about music styles, techniques, and rhythms by observing a visual display of the music on an oscilloscope or similar apparatus or by feeling the vibrations of the music. Some of these students will have enough residual hearing so that amplification through hearing aids or FM transmitter/receiver units will allow participation.


How to Contact Deaf/Hard of Hearing Student

Establish a system of contacting the deaf/hard of hearing student with advance notice of class cancellations.

This could be through the Michigan Relay Center  which allows telephone customers using Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TTY/TDD) to call persons or businesses without TTYs anywhere in Michigan and vise versa.
Go to for more information.
Call toll-free 1-800-649-3777.


Sorenson video Remote Interpreting To place a call to Deaf/hard of Hearing student call 1-866-327-8877. You will need contact information (name, videophone number or IP address) ready. 


Tips for Positive Communication with Students with Hearing Impairments

  • Face the person while talking (try to avoid facing the chalkboard while speaking).
  • Speak clearly and naturally without exaggerating lip movements or volume.
  • Avoid standing in front of a light source, like a window, since the glare from behind makes it difficult to read lips.
  • Do not chew gum or obstruct the area around your mouth with your hands or other objects that might interfere with lip-reading.
  • If the deaf/hard of hearing student is using an interpreter, direct your communication to the deaf/hard of hearing student. This allows the deaf/hard of hearing person the option of viewing both you and the interpreter to more fully follow the flow of conversation.
  • Interpreters are a few works behind (lag time) the speaker, you will need to allow time for the Deaf student to receive information and then ask questions. or to follow what you are pointing at on the board.
  • When asking students to read then respond the Deaf student will need time to read before you start speaking.  If you start to speak while the Deaf student is still reading, he/she will not be able to watch the interpreter and read at the same time.


Telecommunications Device for the Deaf

ODSS has a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (also called a TTY or TDD) which students who are deaf/hard of hearing can use for local calls and for making arrangements specifically related to their disability, such as with a state rehabilitation agency. This TTY is available during regular working hours.

A TTY has also been placed in Public Safety


Division on Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The following links provides information on Deaf and hard of hearing as well as instructional and faculty resources.


Office of Disability Support Services at Lansing Community College

Disability Support Services
Gannon Building - StarZone
Phone: (517) 483-1924
Additional contact information »