Deaf or hard of hearing Students This guide will provide

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					                          Deaf or hard of hearing Students

This guide will provide information that will help staff understand the barriers Deaf or
hard of hearing students face when they enter higher education. Many of the
difficulties centre on the use and acquisition of language.

What does it mean to be Deaf or hard of hearing?
Hearing loss can occur at any time in a person’s life. Some people are born with no
or little hearing whilst others lose their hearing over time. Over 9 million people in
the UK are deaf or hard of hearing.

There are two main types of hearing loss – conductive and sensorineural.

Conductive hearing loss
Conductive hearing loss is the result of sounds not being able to pass freely to the
inner ear. This usually results from a blockage in the outer or middle ear, such as a
build-up of excess ear wax or fluid from an ear infection (especially common in
children). It can also happen as a result of some abnormality in the structure of the
outer ear, ear canal or middle ear – or be due to a ruptured eardrum. In some
cases, severe conductive hearing loss is due to excessive bone growth of the bone
in the middle ear.

In this type of hearing loss sounds become quieter, but not usually distorted.
Depending on its cause, a conductive hearing loss can either be temporary or
permanent. Conductive hearing losses can often be corrected with medical
management, or minor surgery.

Sensorineural hearing loss
This type of hearing loss is sometimes referred to as sensory, cochlear, neural or
inner ear hearing loss. A permanent sensorineural hearing loss is the result of
damage to the hair cells within the cochlea or the hearing nerve (or both).

Damage to the cochlea occurs naturally as part of the ageing process (age-related
hearing loss is known as presbycusis) but there are many other things that cause
sensorineural hearing loss, or add to it; such as regular and prolonged exposure to
loud sounds, exposure to harmful drug that damage the cochlea, infectious disease
e.g. rubella, a head injury, birth complications, benign tumours or a genetic

With this type of hearing loss, the ability to hear quiet sounds, understanding speech
and a reduced quality of sound that can be heard are all affected.

Once the cochlea hair cells become damaged, they will remain damaged for the rest
of a person’s life. Therefore sensorineural hearing loss is irreversible and cannot be
cured – at least at the present time.
Cochlea implants
Some people’s hearing loss makes them suitable candidates for a cochlea implant.
A cochlea implant is a small electronic device that stimulates any functioning
auditory nerves inside the cochlea with an electric field creating the sense of sound.
Only those with sensorineural hearing loss are eligible candidates. Cochlear
implants in children are still controversial in the Deaf community as ethically

A supplementary factsheet can be found in Appendix J with further facts and figures
about deafness and the hard of hearing.

Definitions of deafness

        Mild deafness
People with mild deafness have some difficulty following speech, mainly in noisy
situations. The quietest sounds they can hear in their better ear average between 25
and 39 decibels.

       Moderate deafness
People with moderate deafness have difficulty in following speech without a hearing
aid. The quietest sounds they can hear in their better ear average between 40 and
69 decibels.

       Severe deafness
People with severe deafness rely a lot on lipreading, even with a hearing aid. BSL
may be their first or preferred language. The quietest sounds they can hear in their
better ear average between 70 and 94 decibels.

         Profound deafness
People who are profoundly deaf communicate by lipreading and BSL may be their
first or preferred language. The quietest sounds they can hear in their better ear
average 95 decibels or more.

How is hearing loss and deafness measured?
Hearing loss and deafness is usually measured by testing to find the quietest sounds
someone can hear using tones with different frequencies – which are heard as
different pitches. The level at which a person can hear a tone is called the threshold.
Thresholds are measured in units called dBHL (decibel hearing level). Anyone with
thresholds between 0 and 20 dBHL across all the frequencies is considered to have
‘normal’ hearing. The greater the threshold level is – in dBHL – the worse the
hearing loss.

How does being hard of hearing affect language skills?

For severely and profoundly deaf people, learning a language is a different process
from the way that hearing people learn language. Having limited hearing
significantly reduces a child’s opportunity to engage in meaningful communication
and will ultimately affect the learning of language. As a result, for a deaf student,
learning any spoken language is not a natural or automatic process and instead
becomes a long and intensive task. For many deaf students British Sign Language
(known as BSL) is their first language and English becomes their second. However,
unlike hearing people who have a second language, deaf people have not had
previous experience of learning a verbal and written language. They cannot
immerse themselves in the language because they cannot hear it. This will present
significant challenges for a deaf person.

As BSL does not have a written form and signing does not follow grammar and
syntax rules in the same way English does, linguistically, difficulties are most often
seen in written work. Mistakes in tense, sentence structure and omission of words
are most common. Having no auditory memory and lack of hearing means students
are unable to practice what they are going to put down on paper.

Reading a language that has never been heard also presents its own challenges.
The vocabulary of some deaf students can be limited. If they have not been
introduced to a word, they cannot lip read it. This will make reading a laborious task
as they have to research not only the new technical language for their specialist
subject but also research vocabulary that is more common place to hearing students
at a higher education level. As a result, exceptionally long periods of time are spent
on reading and preparing assignments, and may require the support of a language
or learning support tutor.

It is not just subject specific language that deaf students will experience difficulties
learning, gaining general knowledge is also challenging. Hearing students absorb
information through all sorts of mediums and conversation, including forums, social
interactions, newspapers, TV and radio. This helps them to form opinions and skills
for higher education. Deaf students can be denied access to this extensive range of
knowledge and experience, which will significantly impact their understanding and
self-expression. Their work may appear immature or uninformed. It could lack depth
of knowledge and demonstrate problems with structure. Deafness can dramatically
mask the intelligence and abilities of a student.

What sort of academic difficulties will deaf students face?

Deaf students studying at a University may show some, none or all of the following

Difficulty in reading for meaning, including lecture notes, assignments and reference
texts means:

•   It will take longer than average to read, understand and assimilate information.
    Prioritised reading list should be available. (This may also be true for students
    with SpLD)
•   Deaf students require access to dictionaries, references and tutors more often to
    check their understanding
•   Planning, formulating, producing and proofing written work takes longer
Restricted vocabulary will be shown by:

•   Particular words may have a fixed meaning related only to previous experiences
•   Use of more limited range of words than one would expect
•   Difficulty and/or delay in absorbing and using 'new' technical terminology or apply
    everyday words to specific technical contexts
•   Misinterpretation of possibly ambiguous terminology or phraseology
•   Incorrect verb endings and spelling mistakes in written work
•   Errors in syntax – e.g. using incorrect word order, words are missed out, or
    included unnecessarily and other abnormalities in the use of English
•   Inappropriate or immature styles of writing
•   Difficulty in producing in-depth written discussion, particularly where the
    discussion depends upon abstract thinking rather than practical observation.

What can be done to help?

What follows is a suggestion of some teaching strategies that may help (See the
chapter on inclusive teaching for additional guidelines, including marking work, and a
more comprehensive discussion). Support plans may include some of these

•   Handouts which are written in a clear, precise style
•   A glossary of subject specific terminology provided in advance of classes
•   Assignments that give clear information and state exactly what tasks are to be
•   Non- ambiguous language in examination questions or assessment briefs and
    avoid using words that are not strictly necessary
•   Feedback on draft assignments to assist with relevance, structure, clarity, syntax
    and spelling where appropriate
•   Recognition that peculiar or reoccurring errors in a deaf student's written work is
    most likely to be a direct result of their deafness, not merely the result of
•   Credit correct content, but do not penalise peculiarities unduly

All this can add up to frustration and feelings of inadequacy as they are awareness
of their own limitations. This can lead to low confidence in the presentation of work.
Some pastoral support is therefore often appropriate.

Deafness is a hidden disability so how will I know if I have a Deaf or hard of
hearing student?

On first sight it is not always easy to tell if a person is deaf or hard of hearing.
However once you begin communication with a deaf person there may be some
indicators. They may need to move closer to you to hear you better. They may turn
their head to move an ear with stronger hearing towards you. They may watch you
mouth (lip read) when you speak. They may have a person with them to interpret
what you say into British Sign Language. When a deaf person speaks their
language may not always be very clear. This is not true in all cases however. It may
depend on when the person lost their hearing or has had any at all. In most cases
the deaf person will tell you how best to communicate with them and if you are
unsure it is always best to ask rather than make an embarrassing mistake.

Some but not all students will use hearing aids, or other devices to support their
learning and hearing. Details on an individual student’s level of hearing and
preferred method of communication will be in the support plan.

Hearing dogs for the Deaf
Students or visitors may also use hearing dogs. The dogs are trained to alert the
deaf person to specific sounds, such as a door bell, traffic at road crossings or a fire
alarm. They help deaf people to lead independent lives. It should be remembered
that these dogs are working and should not be distracted from their work. More
information is available from the organisation

What support is available for Deaf and hard of hearing students?

When a student identifies themselves to the Disability Service as having a hearing
loss, the Disability Service will co-ordinate the support the student will require whilst
they are studying at Salford. If you believe a student you teach has a hearing loss
but does not appear to have a support plan, they can be referred to the Disability
Service, if they want support. Many students who are hard of hearing but not
completely deaf may decide they do not need additional support and they are coping
well. If this is the case, a student does not have to come to the Disability Service for
support. Some people are not aware of the breadth of support available or even that
their level of hearing loss would qualify so it can be useful to refer in any case so the
student can find out more and make an informed decision.

Student Support Plans
At a support plan meeting, the student and the Disability Adviser will meet to discuss
the student’s individual needs. The Disability Adviser will assess the support the
student needs and make reasonable adjustment recommendations. These
recommendations are made based on a number of factors including ensuring the
reasonability of the adjustment and the need of the student. Once the student and
the Adviser agree on the nature of the adjustments, the Adviser will write a student
support plan, which is distributed to the School so that those involved in the teaching
and learning of the student can begin to make necessary adjustments. Further
information on support plans is available in the next chapter.

Disabled Students’ Allowance
In addition to a support plan, the student will be supported in making an application
to Disabled Students’ Allowance from their funding body, if they are eligible. This is
funding to help pay for the cost of additional support needs, such as assistive
technology and communication support such as interpreters or language support.
This process can take two to three months to complete so students are advised to
apply as soon as possible to ensure the support can be put in place for the start of
each semester.

Study time
Note takers and/or interpreters may be present in lectures to take notes or interpret
what is being said. All support staff should be accommodated by lecturers. The
timetabling office is advised to make space for these extra people in the classroom.

Assistive technology software may also be useful for deaf students to assist in the
production of text, or to support language development. Some students also
received language support workers to support them with written text. The
appropriateness of these support workers will depend on the student’s level of
hearing loss or deafness and whether having this support levels the playing field or
gives an advantage.

What additional arrangements exist around the University to support Deaf and
hard of hearing students?

Loops and Infrared Systems
A loop system helps deaf people who use a hearing aid or loop listener, hear sound
more clearly by reducing or cutting out background noise. A loop system can be
used to pick up sound in a range of situations, such as a television, conversations or
lectures. Anyone sitting in the area of the loop can pick up sound if they switch their
hearing aid – or loop listening aid – to the 'T' setting. Counter loop systems can also
be installed at reception desks to provide hearing support for visitors.

Infrared systems provide an alternative to loops and reduce the problems of sound
signals 'spilling over' into adjoining areas. The deaf learner will need an infrared
receiver (which you will need to supply and maintain). Infrared systems are not
usually prone to interference unless the receivers are in direct sunlight. Unlike loops,
several systems can be used at the same time in adjacent rooms.

Infra red and hearing loops are fitted in lecture theatres, conference rooms and
reception areas within the University. A hearing loop sticker is displayed on the wall
to inform users of their presence.

Portable and infra red systems work in the same way as permanently fitted loop
systems. They cover a smaller area and can be packed away after use. They are
useful if a permanent system is not necessary or possible, or if the loop is needed in
different rooms. The signal quality provided by a portable loop may not be as good
as that from a professionally fitted system. Portable loops are available on loan from
AV services in the University or the Disability Service may help you to source them.

Deaf Alerter Fire Alarms
Deaf and hard of hearing staff and students have access to Deaf Alerters (available
at every reception desk of university buildings). This equipment will alert the user
when a fire alarm is activated, to ensure they know to evacuate the building. These
are particularly useful to for overnight stays.
Deaf Community Network
The Deaf Community Network was established by the staff in the Disability Service
to bring the existing Deaf community to the University and vice versa. Its activities
are outlined further in part one.

What is the best way to communicate with a deaf student?

Mobile Phones
Text messaging is a useful method of communication between the University and
students. It is limited by the number of words that can be sent in one message
however. It is a useful way to get a quick short message to a student about
appointments or room changes. Many services in the University, including the
Disability Service, now employ the technology to do this via outlook or other
software. It may be wise to check with the School Office to see if this is supported
before you use your own mobile. The School Office should also keep mobile contact
details on record for quick and easy access.

Lip readers
Some people who have partial or no hearing can lip read. They usually have some
training to be fully competent but to some degree we all lip read when
communicating verbally. Lip readers will recognise certain mouth shapes and
patterns of mouth movement as representing certain sounds and words. When
talking to someone who lip reads, you do not need to slow down your speak or over
emphasis your words. In fact this will distort your mouth patterns and make you
harder to lip read. Avoid covering your mouth with your hands when you talk and
keep your hands lower than your face when gesturing. It can also be helpful to keep
your hair tied back and avoid distracting jewellery, like lip or tongue piercings or big
earrings or necklaces.

Working with BSL interpreters
British Sign Language (BSL) is a language in its own right and is not just a version of
English with signs. A BSL/English interpreter can help a deaf sign language user
and a hearing person to communicate with each other. They interpret from one
language to the other. In the UK this will usually be from British Sign Language
(BSL) to spoken or written English, or spoken or written English to BSL. Interpreting
is a recognised profession and interpreters train for many years. They need a good
level of English, relevant qualifications in BSL, and they should have completed
approved interpreter training. Sometimes it is appropriate to have two interpreters
for one lecture. This is often the case if the lecture is lengthy or contains complex

Some people use Sign Supported English (SSE). SSE is not a language in its own
right, but more a kind of English with signs. Some countries have their own form of
BSL and within a country there are regional variations just as there is in the spoken
English language.

BSL/English interpreters are used by deaf people:
• whose first or preferred language is BSL, or
• who use Sign Supported English (SSE).

Lecturing staff should speak with the interpreters (who will be hearing) in their
classes and find out if there is anything helpful they could be doing to facilitate
interpretation of their spoken word for the Deaf or hard of hearing students.

Effective communication relies on the sign language user and interpreter seeing
each other clearly. The interpreter and anyone relying on spoken English will need to
hear any conversation clearly. Interpreters will advise on the best place for them to
sit or stand and will take into account lighting and visibility. If you are using
flipcharts, an overhead projector, handouts, film clips or practical demonstrations,
they must be positioned near to the interpreters so that the BSL user does not have
to change the direction of his or her attention between what is being shown and the

It is good practice for only one person to speak at a time. It is impossible to interpret
two people speaking simultaneously.

Avoid jargon and abbreviations
Allow plenty of time when using visual aids as it will not be possible for the BSL user
to study visual aids and to watch the interpreter at the same time.
The interpreter needs time to comprehend and reproduce in English what has been
signed in BSL and vice versa, so expect short time delays as this happens. This is
especially important during questions or discussions.
Talk at a reasonable, normal speed and talk directly to the people you are
communicating with and not to the interpreter.

Basic British Sign Language and Deaf Awareness courses are run by through the
Staff Development Unit at the University of Salford and the DCN also has
involvement in the provision of BSL for staff in Student Life.

A summary

 •   Hearing loss can affect anyone. Some people are born Deaf and other lose
     their hearing over time.
 •   Learning a language is hard if you’ve never hear it.
 •   BSL can be a Deaf person’s first language.
 •   Learning to read can take a long time and familiar vocabulary can be limited.
 •   University of Salford uses deaf alerters and hearing loops to support those who
     are hard of hearing.
 •   Some students will use hearing aids, some can lip read, and others will use
     interpreters when communicating with the hearing.