K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Daniel Lunk
Date created
October 2010
Flash Video
This video copyright ©2010. Terms of use

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In the classroom

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Understanding the variety of communication modes used by deaf people is critical in order for an inclusive classroom teacher to teach a deaf student effectively. Through expert interviews and classroom footage, this video shares some easily-implemented strategies for working with students who use interpreters, hearing aids, and cochlear implants.

This video is one in a seven-part series about educating deaf students in the inclusive classroom. The other videos include:

The videos are associated with the article “Deaf Learners and Successful Cognitive Achievement.”


Kathy Metzer (00:10)
Our students use a variety of communication modes and I think we have to be respectful of what that is.
Student (00:23)
Baby bird is
Kathy Metzer (00:23)
Can you sign, so that Trevor can understand, please?
Student (00:24)
Oh, my bad. [starts signing] Baby bird is very, very sad.
Kathy Metzer (00:32)
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (00:32)
The use of an interpreter or an educational interpreter is becoming a much more common practice today in public schools where deaf students are in inclusive settings. And there are different schools of thought in interpreting about the relationship between the regular classroom teacher, the teacher of the deaf, and the interpreter. It is our belief that the interpreter really has an integral role in the IEP team. So I would suggest that the interpreter attend the IEP meetings because many times the interpreter is the one individual who is with the child as the child changes classes throughout the school day. We take a liberal approach to the duties of an educational interpreter. Many times an educational interpreter can serve a tutoring role. And that that person has a better idea, probably, of — rather than most others — of what the student’s language level is, of what the student really understands, where the student has trouble in terms of vocabulary, or slang expressions. I know many times in our interpreting program here at UNC-G, the instructors are very familiar with slang expressions that are heard in schools. Though it’s very important that a deaf student know what those are because some of those could either be advantageous to one, or get one into trouble. So I think that a child who uses an interpreter has a great deal of success potential because they’re getting the information, they have access to the information, to the content, let’s say of, to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, or the testing that’s done.
Martha Overman (02:20)
Having that extra person in the classroom, I think sometimes, some teachers feel that it’s an invasion on them, that, I don’t know, there’s another adult in this classroom, and that might make them a little nervous, but then I think that most teachers kind of like having an extra set of hands or eyes in the classroom too, so I think that it can be a big asset.
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (02:44)
The interpreter has a great role to play in formative assessment, because they can know, maybe, nuances of what the child is really understanding. Because many times a deaf student will nod their head yes, and a teacher will think, “Oh, they understand what I’m saying,” but what they’re really doing is sort of saying, “Mm hm, I’m sort of understanding kind of what you say,” or letting them know that you’re making a connection with them. So you having to be very careful about looking at the signals that a deaf student is giving you.
Kathy Metzer (03:12)
If the deaf child is laughing and it’s not a time to be laughing, you be the disciplinarian to go find out what’s going on. We try to take the interpreter out of that role.
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (03:26)
A student who uses a cochlear implant is receiving information, auditory information, through the implant. First of all, with deaf students, whether they use a cochlear implant or an interpreter, always make sure that you are facing the student. Because even if a child is, let’s say, uses more audition, we as hearing individuals get a lot of information from the whole facial expressions as well as the lips. I would make sure that the acoustics of the room are such that it is a relatively quiet environment. Now, I know you can’t always have a classroom that’s quiet if you’ve got a lot of students talking, but make sure that you do not give instructions while everybody is moving around. I would say pause, make sure the child is attending to you, then give the instructions.
Kathy Metzer (04:19)
A student that has a cochlear implant, I think the regular, or the inclusive classroom teacher needs to make sure that that student always has the implant side to his or her speaking voice, or to the speaker period. Asking a student to repeat the directions versus, “Do you understand,” and that goes for all of our students, because they all will say yes. But getting that student to repeat the directions, “What did I ask you to do,” or “What are you going to do?” Because then you know if he or she understood what they’re supposed to do. And I think, again, we want to educate the other students, because they want to know “what is a cochlear implant?” Or “what is that?” And we do need to educate them and let them know. Calling on the student, because I think that is very important; give them the same opportunity as the other students, and have the same expectations. If we know a student needs accommodations, those can still be done, and they would have — nobody knows. And I think that’s the beauty of a regular ed teacher who is very willing to work with all of us.
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (05:46)
One thing that’s often done with children who use either hearing aids or cochlear implants is called acoustic highlighting. And in acoustic highlighting, if a child has not understood something — this is a very simplistic definition of it — but in acoustic highlighting, if a child has not understood something, the teacher can repeat it by giving greater vocal emphasis to a particular syllable in a word. That makes the student attend to that particular syllable, or that particular part of the sentence, so that they’re getting that, so that they’re understanding that a little more clearly through their hearing aid, or cochlear implant. Sometimes I think it helps to talk a little bit slower in phrase groupings just as I’m doing now. You don’t slow your speech down that much — and I did acoustic highlighting on "that much" — but it gives the student a little more processing time to group your words in phrase groupings. Also, probably it helps to slow down your rate of speech just a bit, as I’m doing now. So those are in general some tips for working with a child who uses a hearing aid or a cochlear implant.