Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Dear Faculty,

You may have a deaf student and a sign language interpreter in your class. In an effort to assist professors who have not previously worked with a sign language interpreter in the classroom, we are providing a memo of what to expect, as well as appropriate contact information should you have any further questions.

When working with a sign language interpreter and a deaf student:

  • Provide interpreter with any written material ahead of time, so they will be able to review vocabulary and get familiar with class terms and concepts. The interpreter also needs a copy of any handouts that the student gets (ex. Syllabus, articles, etc). For example: An art professor provided a copy of all the art history names they would be using that week such as names of artist, the title of the piece, location, and dates. This aids the interpreter in seeing the correct spelling of names and places discussed in class.
  • Provide a clear view of the speaker (professors or guest speaker) and the interpreter. Deaf students need good visibility of both their interpreter and professor. Both should be in the student’s line of sight. Therefore, the interpreter will be sitting or standing (shadowing) near the professor during lectures or one on ones.
  • Use closed-captioning (CC) during videos. Most videos have CC and you can find out by looking at the VHS or DVD cover. The CC is usually at the bottom of the back cover of the video case. If you need help setting up the CC in your lecture hall or classroom, you can call Information Technology Services at (912) 478-0882 and they should be able to help. Some videos are not captioned- older videos or documentaries. In this case, the interpreter will interpret the video presentation.
  • Provide good lighting so that the interpreter can be seen by the student. Lights can be dimmed as long as the student affirms that they can see the interpreter.
  • When communicating with your deaf student, talk directly to him/her. Avoid asking the interpreter to, “Tell him…” or “Ask her…”  and maintain eye contact with the deaf student, not the interpreter. The interpreter will interpret everything: all comments from professor, student conversations or comments, deaf student’s comments or questions. The interpreter is there to facilitate the communication.
  • Speak at your normal pace. The interpreter will ask you to slow down or repeat if necessary. The interpreter listens for concepts and ideas, not just words, to render the accurate interpretation.
  • Interpreters follow a code of conduct which requires impartiality and confidentiality with all classroom related information.
  • Understand that interpreting is mentally and physically taxing. For classes that last longer than one hour and fifteen minutes, the interpreter needs a break (5-7 min.). Usually, the class benefits from the break as well.


Last updated: 12/19/2012

Student Accessibility Resource Center – Statesboro • PO Box 8037 • (912) 478-1566 •

Student Accessibility Resource Center – Savannah/Liberty • 11935 Abercorn Street • (912) 344-2572 •