There are many teaching strategies you can use to ensure effective and productive learning environments and experiences for all students, including those with disabilities.
Accessible Education[i] is the process of designing courses and developing a teaching style to meet the needs of people who have a variety of backgrounds, abilities, and learning styles. Just as there is no single way to teach, people learn in a variety of ways; using different instructional methods will help meet the needs of the greatest number of learners[ii].
Under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, you have a responsibility to learn about accessibility for persons with disabilities and how it relates to the development and delivery of accessible programs and courses.
People who have hearing loss may be Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. The Canadian Hearing Society has used the following definitions:
Deaf (uppercase “D”) is a term that refers to members of a socio-linguistic and cultural group whose first language is sign language. In Canada, there are two main sign languages: American Sign Language (ASL) and Langue des signes québécoise (LSQ).
Deafened, late-deafened and oral deaf (lowercase “d”) are terms that refer to individuals who have lost all hearing at some point in their lives, use spoken language, and rely on visual forms of communication, such as speech reading, text and occasionally sign language.
Hard of hearing is a term that refers to individuals who have a hearing loss ranging from mild to severe, and who use their voice and residual hearing – and occasionally sign language – for communication.
Some individuals with hearing loss may use assistive technology to communicate, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants; others may use interpretive services or read lips.
Avoid making assumptions about a person’s disability or capabilities; many persons with disabilities talk about being frustrated with people assuming what they can or cannot do. Remember that although persons with disabilities might have specific needs, every individual is different.
As an educator, you have a responsibility to accommodate students with disabilities under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Requests for accommodation are made on an individual basis by students through the Office for Students with Disabilities and require medical and/or formal documentation.
The following are common academic accommodations that may be required for students who are Deaf, deafened or hard of hearing. This list is not exhaustive and is not intended to replace the official request for academic accommodations as communicated by the Office for Students with Disabilities.
Remember that students with disabilities do not have to disclose their disability to their professors or anyone else in the academic environment in order to receive accommodations. Unless a student chooses to disclose the nature of the disability to you, you will only receive information on the accommodations the student is entitled to receive. It is important to familiarize yourself with the accommodation and the accessibility resources and protocols at your university to ensure that you are following recommended practices.