Sign Language Interpreters

Sign Language Interpreters & Students with Hearing Impairments

Below are general guidelines for working with interpreters and students who have hearing impairments. If you are unsure how to handle a situation with a hard of hearing or deaf student, please contact our office at 313-4134.

  • Allow the interpreter to sit near you so the student can pick up your visual cues and expressions and watch the interpreter.
  • Allow the student to sit where he/she can see both you and the interpreter.
  • During one-on-one situations, speak directly to the individual with the hearing impairment not the interpreter.
  • Avoid saying "tell him" or "ask her" to the interpreter.
  • Remember the interpreter is a few words behind the speaker.
  • Provide good lighting for the interpreter, especially if you are darkening the room to show a video or slides.
  • Speak naturally and in a normal tone-do ot exaggerate your lip movement or facial expressions.
  • Avoid speaking while you are facing the chalkboard.
  • Remember that an individual with a hearing impairment needs time to study handouts, assignments, charts and overheads because he/she cannot look at these materials and the interpreter at the same time.
  • Provide written instructions for assignments and exams if requested by the student.

Closed Captioning of Videos/DVDs

Most newer videos and DVDs are already closed captioned. You will need to turn on closed captioning on the television or projector in your room. Closed captioned options are usually available on the menu of DVDs. Please check your material ahead of time to make sure it is closed captioned. If it is not, or you are having trouble displaying closed captions with the equipment in your classroom, please contact Instructional Technology Support Service at x3801 or 313-3801 for assistance. Also allow the student additional access to the video outside of class, if requested.

Communicating Outside of Class

Most deaf persons prefer to use email for communication outside of class. However, if the student requests a phone conversation, they will most likely use a relay service. Here is how it works:

The student types what they wish to say to you on a device called a TTY, which is then voiced to you through the relay operator. You speak back to the student, and the operator types the message to the student. If you would like to call the student using the relay service, call 1-800-877-8973. You will hear, "Sprint relay operator [number]. May I have the number you are calling please?"

1. Give the Sprint relay operator the area code and telephone number you wish to call and any additional instruction.

2. The Sprint relay operator will process your call, reading aloud what the TTY user types, and will type what you say back to the TTY user.

Note: Be sure to talk directly to your caller, avoid saying "tell him" or "tell her," and say "go ahead" at the end of your responses.

An interpreter is not supposed to clarify or explain the content of a classroom lecture/lab, meeting, and/or textbook. It is the student's responsibility to ask for clarification or explanation from the appropriate individual.

If you need to meet briefly with a student who uses an interpreter, and your conversation will not involve complex ideas, you may wish to write notes back-and-forth to each other, either on paper, or on the computer. Otherwise, the student will need to request an interpreter from DREAM. Please realize we need at least five business days notice to fulfill interpreter requests. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Please direct questions to Tera Lessard, Associate Director of Disability Resources, Education, & Access Management, at extension 4091 or 313-4091.