Full Guide for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

30 Jul 2020

There are 9 million people with hearing difficulties in the USA with somewhere around 20,000 of them applying to post-secondary educational institutions annually. At this point, they face one of the most challenging periods in their life.

While regular students take common learning modes for granted, the latter becomes a real challenge for those who have hearing difficulties of any level. Hearing loss of any type impacts students’ academic performance severely, so education services do their best to prevent academic setbacks and meet the special needs of the deaf community. Fortunately, they seem to succeed.

Common Causes of Hearing Loss Among Students

Conductive Hearing Loss

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Mixed Hearing Loss

Occurs due to obstruction in the outer ear or middle ear structure. Can be a result of infection, fluid, or even allergies. In most cases, can be treated with surgical intervention or medicine. It’s a common cause among late-deafened individuals.

The most common hearing loss type also known as nerve-related hearing impairment. Occurs because of the inner ear problems. Can be treated neither medically nor surgically but can be helped with hearing aids.

Just like it sounds, mixed hearing loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing impairments. Treatment is prescribed by a hearing professional individually, depending on one’s specific hearing loss conditions.

Problems Faced by Hard of Hearing Students in College

While moving from a high school to a new life that lies beyond, all students need to pass a transition process. The timing varies for every freshman individually, so does the difficulty of the process. Students who have hearing loss report this initial stage to adult life to be a tough one. To ease the process, consider taking steps as listed below.

  • Explore school options that meet your needs
  • Prepare technically for independent life
  • Get acquainted with college administration or disability service office if available
  • Get to know your teachers
  • Join clubs/groups dedicated to those who have similar to your impairments

How COVID-19 Influenced Students with Listening Difficulties?

  1. Virtual classes can’t be fully accessed due to the ASL interpreters being denied
  2. Lack of access to audio-format education resources (i.e. podcasts or other files)
  3. Demand for expanded tutoring services cannot be satisfied
  4. Inability to stay in reach with deaf peers leading to mental issues like the feeling of isolation

How Colleges Support Hearing Loss Students

To create a more audible classroom environment, colleges adjust classroom settings with the following points.

  • Full visual access
  • Proper lighting
  • Distance between learners and the teacher
  • Improved room acoustics
  • Quiet environment

Technologies and Tools for Deaf or Hearing Loss Students

  1. Hearing aids are designed to amplify the surrounding sounds. They make sounds easier to understand and can filter them to make it easier to hear. Hearing aids can be fitted either inside an ear channel or around your ear.
  2. Cochlear implants require surgery to be used. The procedure is very expensive, while the implants require significant follow-up care. Due to these points, cochlear implants are recommended only for those who have a profound hearing loss.
  3. Mobile apps are truly the treasure of our century. Here are only some of them: P3 Mobile enables video communication over long distances; Hamilton Captel Mobile is there to transcribe your phone calls into the readable messages; Dragon Dictation transforms what you speak into the text format. This is only the start of the list, so check out for more apps – we’re sure you will find plenty of them helpful in your daily routine.
  4. TDD is an electronic technology that allows text communication over a standard phone line.
  5. Webcams won’t surprise you with impossible ways to use them; what they will do is allow you to educate through video conferences and video chats. Watching lectures in video format will let you read your teacher’s lips to deepen your understanding of a topic.
  6. Audio inductive loop systems are usually installed on the classroom floor to transmit the professor’s voice to aid the listeners. The technology demands both a receiver and headphones to be used.
  7. FM-system requires the instructor to equip the microphone so the radio broadcast technology could transmit the lecture to the student’s receiver. In its turn, the last one must use to a cochlear implant or hearing aids.

How to Choose a College

If you lack the enthusiasm to enter a college specifically for the deaf, choosing the right alternative is crucial for your academic and mental outcomes. To make everything clear, find out whether your dreamed college:

  1. Maintains easy requests for hard-hearing students.
  2. Provides proper accommodations and technologies to handle the needs of students with hearing disabilities.
  3. States to have ADA compliance.
  4. Has a grievance policy.

You know what works best for you, so be proactive in finding out every single detail that seems important. When choosing your environment for the next 4 years, assure you are fully informed about the college values, its educational processes, and the local student community.

Top 10 Colleges Friendly to Hearing Impaired Students

Students with hearing difficulties don’t necessarily need to attend an institution that operates specifically for the deaf to be academically successful,. You may opt to attend schools that are properly geared to educate deaf and/or hearing impaired entrants. Some of the attention-worthy options include:

Gallaudet University

Provides an extensive list of education programs for deaf and hard of hearing students. It is the only university in the world with liberal arts programs for learners with hearing impairments.


Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind

AIDB serves as an education and recreation center for over 26,000 deaf and blind students of all ages. The institution has 8 centers throughout the state so that you can work for your degree within your area of reach.


Rochester Institute of Technology

Maintains ASL communication, online courses, and visual aids for the deaf and hard of hearing learners.


Alexander Graham Bell School

This school sets a primary focus on balancing students' social and academic skills and develops an individual learning program for accepted applicants.


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Supplies a strong linguistic foundation for the Deaf community of UWM. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all courses for 2020 can be accessed online.


Florida School for the Deaf & Blind

Enter their First Coast Technical College, and you’ll get an opportunity to finish the Career and Technical Education program. This way, you will get enough technical skills to occupy a comprehensive position on the current work market.


Doncaster Communication Specialist College

This option is just for you in case you fancy international learning experience. The college is located in South Yorkshire, UK, and provides individualized study courses for both local and international students with hearing impairments. 


Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind

In case you want to get prepared for university programs in advance, take your advantage of HSDB exceptional learning environment for high-schoolers.


New York School for the Deaf

This is the second oldest deaf-specialized institutions in the United States. NYSD incorporates the latest technologies to educate students in all aspects of a learning experience.


Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf

Located in the Texas state, this college includes both learning and extra-curriculum activities for the deaf. 97% of enrolled students with hearing loss received a scholarship with $10,021 paid on average.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student Programs

College Bowl is a spirited team-based competition between deaf contestants from top colleges and universities. The final match draws more than 1,000 participants to find out which one of them is the community intellectual leader for the next year.

Serves as a platform for communication and interchange between hard of hearing young people across countries. The program is dedicated to organizing study sessions and summer camps for young people with hearing disabilities to spend amazing time together despite the country they reside in.

This program gives you a chance to spend some time volunteering for NAD and, as a result, to learn valuable leadership skills and create new networking opportunities.

Participants of the program are invited to take part in different educational and leadership conferences and are taught how to become community leaders/activists.

This youth community service is located in Chicago but manages to supply humanitarian aid to deaf and hard of hearing communities all around the world.

Deaf Professional Arts Network is a comprehensive resource of ASL music videos and workshops intended to connect deaf and hard of hearing youth with music culture and give them a true sense of what love to music means.

Scholarships for Hard of Hearing Students 

Optimist International Communication Contest

Award Amount: $2,500

Open for high-school students from the US and Canada through grade 12. The applicant has to be certified to have a minimum of 40dB hearing loss or greater to enter the program.

Dorothy E. Ann Fund (D.E.A.F.) Scholarship

Award Amount: $2,500

Available for deaf and hard of hearing graduates of high-schools located in Delaware, Franklin, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway, Madison, or Union counties and pursue college/university degree on a full-time basis.

Sertoma Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,500

Qualifications for this contest include evidenced by audiogram deaf or hearing loss, the citizenry of the United States, minimum cumulative GPA 3.2 on a 4.0 scale.

Graeme Clark Scholarship 

Award Amount: $2,000

Qualifications are the minimum 3.0 GPA and the audiogram proving that you have a hearing impairment or the deaf.

National Help America Hard of Hearing Scholarship

Award Amount: $1,000

In addition to financial aid, this annual scholarship awards its participants with a new pair of hearing aids.

The Cheryl D. Conking Memorial Scholarship Fund

Award Amount: $1,500

The total award amount of this four-year scholarship is $12,000. Students are eligible for the scholarship fund if they graduate from school in either Windsor, Texas, Wilkinson County, Mississippi, Louisiana, and several other states. The full list can be found on the official website of the scholarship.

J. Paris Mosley Scholarship

Award Amount: $500 - $1,000

Two essential requirements to receive the scholarship are no less than a 2.5 cumulative GPA and ASL fluency.

Additional Resources for Students

NAD tips for students with hearing disabilities on the ways to manage their online classes during the coronavirus pandemic.


Charity establishment based in the UK. Helps people with hearing loss with a Help2Help community support and well-being activities to communicate their lifes.


A peer-reviewed journal with publications in all areas of audiology. The JAAA is issued 10 times a year and available both in electronic and hard-copy formats.


A good source of Signing Exact English training materials.


Online platform for blogs and stories of college students with disabilities who want to share information about higher education and employment. 


Contains everyday living tips and solutions for hard of hearing community members.


A non-profit site aimed to raise public awareness of the deaf and hearing impairments. Features a simple online test to check whether there’s a possibility of having hearing problems.


Provides unsurpassed clinic services for people affected by hearing loss or listening challenges.


Being a part of the National Health Institute, its website facilitates the latest research on speech, hearing, and other communication-based issues.


Unbiased Database of technical solutions for people with disabilities. Funded by the US National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.


Resource for parents of the deaf and their teachers.


Association supports effective communication and literacy in families with deaf or hard of hearing members.


Just a remarkably large source of information on hearing-related topics.

Tips for Hard of Hearing Students

Not all hearing impairments are equal, and different hearing levels affect how successfully students manage their private and college life. As a bottom line to our guide, here are the final tips on reducing stress and maximizing productivity during your freshman year in a college.

  1. Get prepared to communicate about your hearing impairment. A lot.
  2. Note your resident advisory about your hearing loss in advance.
  3. Expect to encounter a lot of challenges during the first months in college.
  4. Join clubs to break barriers between you and other students (either they are deaf or not).
  5. Advocate for your special needs.