Eastern Michigan University

Hearing Impairments

A hearing impairment describes an impaired ability to hear and/or discriminate sounds. There may be a decreased ability to hear, no ability to hear at all, or a student may struggle with processing sounds, i.e. (central) auditory processing disorder. Hearing impairments can occur in different areas of the hearing pathway and may be genetic or caused by non-genetic factors.

Hearing impairments may be categorized as:

  • Congenital - present at birth
  • Acquired - later in life; can be sudden or progressive
Students with hearing impairments may exhibit or experience the following:
  • Either pre-lingual hearing loss (before language acquisition) or post-lingual hearing loss (after language acquisition)
  • Refer to self as hard of hearing, hearing impaired, late deafened, Deaf, or deaf
  • Conditions where symptoms intensify as time passes and may lead to an increased need for accommodations.Feelings of isolation, frustration, etc
Impact of the Environment on the Disability

Students with hearing impairment will likely perform best in courses that incorporate the following elements, which may also benefit other students:

  • Captioning of all videos used in class
  • Facing the class when speaking. In case the student reads lips, be careful not to turn your back to write on the board while you are speaking.
  • Notes provided in advance of class
  • Allowing time for the student to refer back and forth between visual materials and the interpreter/Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) provider, coordinated by the Disability Resource Center (DRC). See below for further description of the interpreter/CART accommodation.
  • When group work is used in classes, separate groups enough so that background noise from one group does not interfere with he other group's communication

When the environment and the disability are not compatible, students with hearing impairments commonly receive any or all of the following accommodations:

  • An interpreter to translate lecture material, tutoring, etc
  • Use of CART services during class. The CART provider will either sit in class or be remotely located and will type very quickly as the instructor or other students speak in class. The student will be able to read the classroom lecture/dialogue on a screen and will be provided with a transcript following the class.
  • Note-taker in order to capture all relevant lecture material
  • Preferential seating
Sources and Additional Information
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