Good Connections: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

If you are like me, you have not had much exposure to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students. 
Most general education teachers do not. Deaf and Hard of Hearing students comprise about 1% of the overall population of school-age children. Approximately 1 million people in the United States are Deaf. The World Health Organization states, "Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, and 34 million of these are children".

Because Deaf students do not make up a huge part of our population, we are ill-equipped to have them in our classrooms. A few years ago I started an ASL class at our local community college. I have fallen in love with the language. Not only am I able to communicate with  the Deaf community, but I am prepared to have a Deaf student or Deaf parents in our school. 

Now, I am not saying go out and be an expert in ASL (although I think everyone should learn ASL). We do have licensed interpreters around, but think about how much it would mean to be able to communicate one-on-one with the Deaf community.

I digress...Let's talk about how we can educate our students and colleagues about Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. 

Responsive Classroom is a huge component of my classroom. 

We start out with Morning Meeting every morning. This promotes community, a safe and welcoming place, and sharing of ideas. Throughout the day there are many techniques and strategies used to continue our growth of community as a classroom. All students are welcome to be who they are and feel comfortable and safe in our classroom. 

In a Responsive Classroom climate, all students feel like a part of the community and in turn, have better learning outcomes. 

After you have the climate of the classroom set, here is what you can do in your classroom for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. 

Now that we have our classrooms set up and our environment ready for learning, let's talk about educating the staff.

I have recently completed an BASIC ASL class in our district. I did it for my ASL Level 4 course. It was one of the best things I have done. The teachers and staff who took the course LOVED it! We had so much fun learning basic signs and information about Deaf community and culture. 
There were so many times that we had a discussion about something and they were surprised to find out the information. 

The first day I had them take a "quiz" on Deaf information.
When we went over the answers, most were very surprised about some of the information. 
Here is a sample of some of the myths we discussed:

The idea for this activity is from

Another idea from is to have texts available with Deaf children and read them to the class. 

AI has a great post with a list of children's books about Deafness.

There are many ways to educate your staff and students about Deaf community and culture. The best way would be to connect with a member of the Deaf community to help you out.

Disclosure: I am not, by any means, an expert in Deaf community or culture. I continue to learn every day. Currently, I have an ASL tutor that I meet with once a week and I try to go to Deaf Coffee Social at Panera as often as I can. I will be continuing on my ASL journey in the fall with ASL level 5. I ask questions constantly and learn every day. 

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