Understanding the requirements of disabled learners

Supporting people with deafness and hearing loss

User needs vary depending on the level and type of hearing loss, and when it took place. There is an assumption that the only necessary adjustment is to supply everything in a written format. This is not necessarily the case as sign language is often the first language for those who are born severely or profoundly deaf, or become deaf in early life.

Potential issues

Often deaf and Hard of Hearing students struggle with a range of issues other than simply hearing. New terminology can be difficult to learn without it being written down, seating where students can’t see everyone’s lips to lip  read is problematic and assumes that everyone can benefit from auditory lessons. 

Key adjustments

Designing for users who are deaf or hard of hearing:


  • Only use University of Kent supported systems (Teams and KentPlayer (Panopto)) to deliver online learning and recordings as these systems offer maximum accessibility.
  • Ask the student over email or in person to let you know what best helps them. Do not assume. 
  • Repeat or paraphrase what a student has said in response to your question to reiterate the point and ensure that everyone can hear what they have said 
  • Ensure that students are sitting in a horseshoe shape in seminars or smaller classes so that every student can see one another 
  • Speak loudly and clearly and encourage everyone else to speak loudly and clearly 
  • Stand in the light, don’t cover your mouth and ensure that everyone can see you and your mouth all the time. If you would like to use a face mask please speak with Student Support and Wellbeing about a visor or see through alternative.
  • Provide notes on your lecture slides because deaf students often find it difficult to read the slide, lip read the presenter and write down notes 
  • Write down key information – email addresses, names of people and any other information that may not be common knowledge 
  • Make users aware of the hearing assistance equipment available from Student Support and Wellbeing. 


  • Talk while playing a video, music, or while others are talking 
  • Shuffle papers in front of your face, or look down while you’re talking 
  • Use telephone as a method of communication 
  • Trail off while talking – ensure you finish your sentences, and don’t assume people will be able to fill in the gaps 

Teaching Considerations

  • All newly created KentPlayer recordings (those made after 21st July 2020) will automatically have closed captions enabled. 
  • Students may rely upon lip-reading techniques, therefore it is important to face the audience when speaking. 
    • For online recordings and sessions please ensure your camera is switched on to show your face.
  • Use a microphone - if microphone is not mobile please only speak when near the microphone. 
  • If there is a hearing loop, please check that it is switched on. 
  • Do not stand with your back to a bright light, or cast your face in shade. 
  • Lecture and seminar groups will be challenging environments, with several voices contending to be heard at once. Good practice would be to repeat key points to the whole group. 
  • Think about the layout of the room to facilitate lip-reading.
  • Reinforce the language and content by adding pictures and visual prompts. 
  • Avoiding unnecessarily complex language in tasks or instructions. 
  • Advising of new vocabulary in advance where appropriate. 
  • Providing glossary summaries for technical terms. 
  • Using technology to facilitate online and asynchronous discussions. 
  • Use Moodle to capture notes from teaching sessions and make them available to learners as soon as possible. 
  • Incorporating activities that allow responses other than writing (e.g. use of images and videos).
  • Audio- visual materials – some students may not be able to hear multimedia audio; if tutors are using audio/visual materials then transcripts should be provided in order to offer inclusion to hearing impaired students. 
  • Embed inclusive teaching practices.
  • Promote use of assistive technology to all. 
  • Ensure key learning materials are accessible: accessible documents and presentations.
  • Consider how to deliver content in alternative formats.


All the information you need to contact Student Support and Wellbeing

Further guidance

Useful links to more information on hearing loss: 

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