1. Definition

    Hearing loss attributed to two causes:

    • sensorineural -- nerve deafness which involves impairment of the auditory nerve and affects the inner ear

    • conductive loss -- a dysfunction of part of the ear mechanism affecting the outer and middle ear

    Some students may have both types of hearing loss.

    Background Information

    The age of the student at the time of the loss will impact the student’s ability to communicate as a hearing person. The student may be prelingually deaf (hearing loss before oral language acquisition) or adventitiously deaf (normal hearing during language acquisition). Those born deaf or who become deaf as very young children might have more limited speech development.

    Some students who have residual hearing may rely on lip reading and use hearing aids or assistive listening devices. Hearing aids amplify all sound and can make small noises, such as air conditioners, hissing lighting fixtures, and traffic noise, overwhelming. Lip reading students usually comprehend only about 30-40% of what is said and have difficulty understanding instructors who cover their lips, face the chalkboard, move around, or wear a mustache. Class discussions can also be problematic.

    Some students may require the use of sign or oral language interpreters to access the information being presented in class. Sign language interpreters use highly developed language and finger spelling skills for several types of sign language (American Sign Language or Pidgin Sign English are examples). Oral interpreters silently form words on their lips for speech reading. Interpreters will interpret all information in a given situation, including instructor’s comments, class discussion, and environmental sounds.

    Some students may benefit from real time captioning, a process involving a stenographer, translating software, and a computer. The stenographer transcribes what is being said in class, which is translated into English almost instantaneously through software to a computer screen. The student is then able to follow the course of the class from the computer screen. Another option is C-Print involving a captionist using abbreviation software in Word that simultaneously translates to English.

    Some people who are deaf consider themselves as members of a distinct language and cultural minority. Most members of this cultural group use American Sign Language (ASL) as their first language. Therefore, they are bilingual, and English is their second language. As with any cultural group, people who are deaf have their own values, social norms, and traditions. Because of this, be sensitive and attentive to cross-cultural information in the classroom. ASL is not equivalent to English; it is a visual language having its own syntax and grammatical structure.

  2. Guidelines for Working with Interpreters and Deaf Students

    Relax and speak normally. Look directly at the student during a conversation. Speak to the student not interpreter.

    Make sure you have the student’s attention before speaking. A light tough on the shoulder, wave, or other visual signal will help.

    Allow for the time lag between the spoken message and its interpretation.

  3. Possible Accommodations

    Classroom Environment

    • Seating which allows a clear view of the instructor, the interpreter, the captioner, and the blackboard.

    • An unobstructed view of the speaker’s face and mouth. Good lighting should also be considered.

    • Ability to view entire class. If this is not possible, repeat questions or comments by other students and indicate (by motioning) who is speaking.


    • Face the class when speaking.

    • Speak clearly. Don't exaggerate lip movement.

    • Use of assistive listening devices in class.

    • Use of sign language interpreters, real time captioners, or C-Print transcribers in class.

    • Provide unfamiliar vocabulary in written form, on the blackboard, or in a handout.

    • Notetakers to enable students to focus on the interpreter or the instructor.

    • Incorporate breaks. Student may experience fatigue from too much concentration on one particular item.


    • Use of visual aids whenever possible, such as captioned versions of videos and films.

    • Providing handouts in advance so the student can watch the interpreter rather than read or copy new material at the same time.

    • Provide written supplements to oral instructions, assignments, and directions.

    • Check films for captioning in advance to make sure they can be captioned if they are not already.


    • Test accommodations may include: extended time, access to a word processor, use of an interpreter for directions.


    • Use e-mail and/or Desire2Learn (D2L) for discussion with students.

    If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Office of Disability Services.


Our Mission

Marquette University's Office of Disability Services is dedicated to providing equal access within the classroom setting, through the determination of appropriate accommodations, for students with documented disabilities. ODS promotes accessibility awareness through collaboration with campus partners, the development of student self-advocacy, and through consultation with the broader community. Guided by the university's mission, we strive to support the Marquette community in their efforts to educate all students on campus.