Students with a
Hearing Loss

at Florida Atlantic University

An Informational Brochure from the
Office for Students with Disabilities
Division of Student Affairs


Students with a hearing loss experience a significant reduction in sensitivity to sounds. This may be accompanied by some loss of adaptability in correctly interpreting auditory stimuli, even when amplified.

 Persons with a hearing loss frequently have some capacity to hear but cannot discriminate clearly enough to rely upon speech for communication. American Sign Language (ASL) and lip (speech) reading are means for communicating. Only 30% of spoken English is comprehended by those who lip read. If they do speak, feedback mechanisms are limited; therefore, vocal control, volume, intonation and articulation may be affected. These secondary effects are physical and do not reflect intellectual weakness.


Some students may utilize a service that provides a transcription of what is being taught in the classroom. This is called C-Print. Two laptops will be brought to class, one for the transcriptionist and one for the student. The transcriptionist provides a meaning for meaning account of the lecture and subsequent dialogue occurring in the class.



The Interpreter’s role is defined by an established set of ethical standards set forth by The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. The Interpreter is a professional hired by the University to facilitate communication between the student, professor and other class members.

The Interpreter signs everything that is said or vocalizes everything that is signed. The Interpreter may ask you to spell technical vocabulary words or to slow your speaking speed. Interpreters should sit at the front of the classroom close to the professor, facing the student.


  • Visual perceptual strengths
  • Impaired language development which may affect comprehension of written materials, test questions, speaking, writing and the ability to grasp abstract concepts
  • Dependence on visual cues
  • Reluctance to ask for assistance or to have something repeated
  • Misinterpretation of assignments
  • Difficulty in participating in group discussion or other small group activities
  • Difficulty in participating independently in class without the services of an Interpreter or transcriptionist
  • Individuals with hearing aids may experience reduced ability to discriminate sounds due to environmental noise
  • Social isolation



  • Speak directly to and maintain eye contact with the student, not the Interpreter. The student will maintain eye contact with the Interpreter while you are speaking in order to see the signed message. Avoid saying “Tell her” or “Ask him.”
  • Ask the student to repeat her or himself if you do not understand what the student says. If repeating does not clarify, use pen and paper or a computer.
  • Speak at a normal volume level because discrimination  of  sounds  or  the inability to hear  at  certain  decibels   is   not corrected with loudness.
  • Speak at a normal pace because there is a time lag between conveyance of message and the Interpreter’s signing. The Interpreter will continue signing after you’ve finished speaking.
  • Front row seating is beneficial. An unobstructed line of vision is necessary for students using interpreters or those relying upon lip reading and visual cues.
  • Provide adequate lighting and avoid standing in a shadow or by a window in order to facilitate lip reading.
  • Be aware of possible visual obstructions that could interfere with lip reading such as facial hair, placing hands over your mouth or frequent nodding.
  • Avoid pacing and lecturing with your back to the students.
  • Speak with short sentences and use gestures, facial expressions and other “body language” when talking to the student so he/she knows he/she is being addressed.
  • Write down a key word or phrase of the topic being discussed, especially when the topic changes frequently.
  • Clearly communicate important information (e.g., directions, technical terms, assignments, answers to homework problems, summaries, scheduling, deadlines) in writing using visual presentation. Please verify with the student that directions and assignments are understood.
  • Use visual aids to reinforce presentations whenever possible. Provide class outlines, lecture notes and printed transcripts of audio and audio-visual materials.
  • In group discussions, have students sit in a horseshoe or circle. Students should raise their hands before speaking so the student can locate the speaker.
  • Only ONE person should talk at any given time. It is impossible to simultaneously interpret or lip read for more than one speaker.
  • Repeat the questions and remarks of others in the room.
  • Provide adequate breaks, especially if the class is long, as both interpreting and C-Printing requires tremendous concentration and physical effort.
  • Room acoustics and environmental noise should be taken into consideration for students with hearing aids.
  • Use electronic discussion board.



To be eligible for academic accommodations at Florida Atlantic University, a student must apply for services from the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). Academic accommodations are determined based on self-report of the disability and effective prior accommodations; observation and interaction with OSD counselor, as well as disability documentation submitted by the student. The documentation must be in the form of an audiogram and if the audiogram is inconclusive, a written narrative defining the student’s hearing loss must be included. The diagnosis must be made by a practitioner qualified to make this diagnosis. The written narrative must state a diagnosis, include anticipated effects of the student’s functional limitations within the academic setting and suggestions for accommodating the student.

The evaluation must have been conducted within the last five years; however, the OSD reserves the right to make modifications to this time frame.



After a student has submitted an Application for Support Services and appropriate documentation of a disability to the OSD, the student will meet with an OSD counselor for an intake interview. During the intake, the student will be asked to provide information about her or his experience of disability, barriers he or she has encountered, as well as effective and ineffective prior accommodations. Appropriate accommodations are then determined based on an interactive process between the student and OSD counselor.

 The student may be eligible for one or more of the following accommodations:

  • Advocacy
  • Professor notification
  • Notetaking assistance
  • Front row seating
  • Sign Language Interpreters or C-Print
  • Visual alert systems
  • Assistive listening devices (transmitter/receiver systems with clip-on microphones for the professor)
  • Exam adaptations (e.g., all directions for exams must be provided in writing). If a professor gives oral directions the day of the exam, they should be written on the board.

These accommodations are necessary for ensuring complete access to, and full participation in, the educational process. Academic standards are not to be lowered, nor should there be an alteration in the essential nature of the course or degree requirements.


 For more information:

National Association of the Deaf

Note: Professors will be notified of the student’s approved accommodations in an OSD Letter of Notification presented by the student. If the student is not registered with the OSD, please refer her or him to the office.


 Last Modified 8/27/15