Deaf or Hard of Hearing

This section of the Inclusive Virginia Adult Education website provides information, instructional strategies, resources, and accommodations for adult education practitioners on serving adult learners who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Deafness means a hearing loss that is so severe that the learner is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification, that adversely affects a learner’s educational performance. Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a learner’s educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section (IDEA Sec. 300.8).

For more information on the differences between Deaf and Hard of Hearing, see the descriptions here.

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Additional Information

Instructional Strategies

  • Find out which method of communication the learner prefers and adapt the environment to support that method (i.e., sign language/use of interpreter, speech-read, use of devices such as hearing aids)
  • If needed, provide an interpreter
  • Create a visual environment, using written descriptions where possible.
  • Provide written directions and so the learner can focus their full attention on the speaker or interpreter
  • Make sure only one person is speaking at a time
  • Arrange the room so learners face each other (e.g., in a circle) so those who speech-read can see others’ faces
  • Avoid backlighting or lighting which makes it difficult to see faces
  • Use closed-captioning when showing videos
  • Always speak when facing the learners; avoid speaking while writing on a board or when your back is turned
  • For more instructional strategies, visit these websites:


  • Alerting Systems
  • Instant Messaging (IM)
  • Internet Captioned Telephone Service
  • Internet Relay (IP Relay)
  • Closed-Captioning
  • Sign Language Interpreters

These resources provide more detailed information related to the accommodations tools commonly used to support learners who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing:

Deaf or Hard of Hearing Resources