College Planning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

College Planning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

According to The National Center For Educational Statistics, approximately 20,000 deaf and hard of hearing students attend some form of higher education each year. There are a variety of categories associated with deafness and hearing loss that make learning challenging for a student. A deaf or hard of hearing student is more prone to falling behind especially in subjects pertaining to reading and math.

Fortunately, schools are realizing the need to assist these students and provide resources to help them better succeed. Each situation is unique based on how an individual identifies themselves. Some students who are hard of hearing may or may not communicate using American Sign Language. Those who identify as deaf may need an interpreter while others may only use an assistive listening device such as hearing aids. Each student has the right to these services, and with the increase in deaf and hard of hearing students attending post-secondary education, schools are expanding their services to better fit the needs of these students.

Each college and institution are different in terms of levels of accommodating students with disabilities. The support and technology for hearing impaired students are continuing to grow, it is important when choosing a school to attend that the school’s services fit the needs and requirements for personal academic growth and success.

The guide below can help better prepare deaf and hard of hearing students for transitioning to higher education.


College Planning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students


Advances in technology have put new tools and resources in motion. Schools by law are required to provide assistance and equal access to all activities and curriculum according to the Americans With Disabilities Act. The most common hearing assistive tools used by students in college are listed below.

    • Inductive Loop Systems: The professor’s voice is transmitted from a microphone through an induction loop to a telecoil into the student’s hearing aid. It uses an electromagnetic field to deliver sound.
    • FM Systems: Radio broadcast technology is used to transmit the professor’s voice directly to the student’s hearing device.
    • Infrared Systems: Using a receiver and earphones through this system, infrared light is used to transmit sound. The sound cannot travel where light isn’t.

Communication Access Real Time Translation (CART)

Deaf/Hard of Hearing BestSchoolOnline

Also known as ‘captioning’, this system translates speech to text. Students can use this tool on laptops or smartphones and even on projection monitors in a classroom setting to deliver real-time text. This option is more engaging for students in comparison to note takers and interpreters which can make a student fall behind. Real-time communication can be extremely beneficial for a deaf or hard of hearing student. CART services also provide an electronic file of the text, given to students to access for further studying. Being an expensive resource, not all schools provide this service, however, if a student requests CART services, by law the school must provide.



Classroom Adaptation

In addition to assistive listening devices, classroom modifications and adaptations can strongly impact a student’s academic success. In the transition to higher education, it is important to understand that it is the student’s responsibility to notify the professor of any accommodations that are necessary for the student.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing BestSchoolOnline

  • Classroom Instruction: Teachers should always face the class and incorporate as many visual aids as possible during lectures. Repeating questions and comments made by other students is important to ensure that deaf and hard of hearing students are able to understand and follow along in the lesson. Students should meet with their instructors before class begins to go over accommodations for the course.
  • Modifying Materials: Schools may alter coursework for deaf and hard of hearing students. Oral exams can be made into written, class discussion and participation can be done via a written response. Interpreters, personal notetakers, and additional time to complete exams or in-class work should be provided to the student through contacting campus disability services.
  • On-Campus Support: On-campus support provides all information and access to resources available to students with disabilities. Disability counselors help each student succeed in their academics despite learning challenges they may face.


Additional Technology Tools

Deaf/Hard of Hearing BestSchoolOnline

Technology has helped advance the deaf and hard of hearing community in many aspects. Specifically focusing on academics, technology has increased the learning opportunities for hearing impaired students.

    • E-textbooks: Provide online versions of textbooks with additional interactive features to better understand the material.
    • Digital Recorders: Students with mild hearing loss can use digital recorders to record lectures, discussions, etc. to replay at a later time to comprehend the material at their own pace.
    • Assistive Technology Center: Support services and devices are available for students with disabilities to better succeed in academics and extracurriculars.


Top Hearing Assistive Applications
  • Tap Tap; this app alerts when the phone detects certain sounds such as screaming, fire alarm, siren.
  • Dragon Dictation; voice recognition software presents spoken words as an email or text message.
  • BioAid; Amplifies sounds, and regulates loudness of ambient noise.
  • ASL Dictionary; Over 5,000 videos of signing to learn from and reference.

Scholarships and grants are also available specifically to deaf and hard of hearing students.

Here are a few to explore:


Additional Resources

Hearing Loss Association of America: HLAA is one of the most well-known advocates for those with hearing loss. This association provides resources to individuals and their families to improve day to day function. HLAA is a strong promoter of hearing loss and raising awareness to communities to educate those who are unaware of hearing impaired individuals.

National Cued Speech Association: NCSA provides multiple channels to promote the use of cued speech. Family vacations, conferences, books, and exhibits are the organization’s way of supporting and engaging those with hearing and learning needs. NCSA is very active in the media and constantly has services and support to reach out to.

National Association of the Deaf: The NAD proudly serves over 48,000,000 individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The organization believes in strong core values based on American Sign Language and civil rights of Americans. They provide resources for the hearing impaired such as legal assistance, health care, research, public policy, and more.


Nursing Articles