Deaf and hard of hearing

This resource offers tips and advice for studying if you are deaf or hard of hearing.

Strategies for successful study

Tertiary study is challenging and it is important to undertake a realistic study load. If you need ongoing support, you should consider discussing your needs with Student Equity and Disability Support, as we may be able to provide services to assist with your studies. You can maximise your chances of success by using the various services available to you and developing a range of study strategies.

You might find it useful to explain to others the effects of your hearing loss, your preferred modes of communication and the possible impact on your studies. For example:

  • communication styles or methods
  • use of adaptive technology and equipment
  • use of interpreters, note-takers and clarifiers in exams
  • language and literacy issues: English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • additional time required to complete assignments and exams
  • confidence and participation
  • enhanced visual perception
  • difficulties with collaborative group work and assessments.

Preparing for study

There are a number of options you can consider to help you prepare for study.

  • Talk to other students who have completed or are studying tertiary courses.
  • Contact a Student Equity Adviser before the course begins to discuss special arrangements including alternative format requirements.
  • Explore the available adaptive technology in the library or Student Equity and Disability Support. Investigate funding for equipment.
  • Establish meeting arrangements with any support staff.
  • Develop realistic timetables for study and assessment tasks (including start and due dates) and allow extra time for alternative formatting needs.
  • Plan for study using SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time frame.
  • Maintain a study-life balance: make time for recreation and relaxation.

Study techniques and tips

  • Lectures and tutorials

    • Meet lecturers and tutors before the first session to explain your needs and introduce note-takers and interpreters.
    • Establish your seating preferences, audio loops, required lighting and visibility of the presenter or interpreter.
    • Do preparatory reading before each session (source lecture notes beforehand).
    • For visual presentations, such as films, request captions or a transcript.
    • Always clarify points and the spelling of words, especially foreign words and unusual names of authors and any problematic jargon.
    • Ask tutors to arrange the room so that all faces are visible, address other students by name, ensure only one person speaks at a time, repeat any comments or questions to facilitate lip-reading, use visual aids to summarise discussions and use appropriate adaptive technology.
    • Explain your preferred method of contact (e.g. SMS or email).
    • Get a copy of the rights and responsibilities for students and interpreters from a Student Equity Adviser. Interpreters at tertiary level must adhere to a code of ethics and cannot explain content.
    • If you are working with an interpreter, negotiate signs for certain phrases, words or acronyms early, expect a lag time and allow for adjustments to new material.
    • Be fully prepared for tutorial presentations by determining your presentation style, practising and timing your presentation delivery, preparing questions to stimulate discussion, providing interpreters with a copy of the presentation beforehand, and arranging the interpreter's seating.

  • Preparing assignments

    • Read selectively and ask lecturers or tutors to indicate important and less complex texts.
    • Explore ESL support, writing and grammar classes and online courses or tuition.
    • Contact Stop 1 about services for critically proof-reading the final copy of an assignment before submission or ask someone you know to assist you.
    • Explore available software such as Endnote to simplify tasks like referencing, and Inspiration for visual planning, brainstorming and concept mapping.

  • Exams and assessment

    • Make arrangements for any alternative assessments through a Student Equity Adviser at least five weeks before exams.
    • Request clarification of exam language aspects.
    • If language is not an inherent requirement, find out about allowances for incorrect spelling and grammar.
    • Request all exam announcements to be given in writing.
    • Ask for oral exams questions to be repeated or clarified as necessary.

  • Dealing with stress

    • Pace activities and expect some tasks to take longer.
    • Take time out if necessary: consider part-time or distance education or deferral.
    • Don’t quit or give up if feeling overwhelmed: talk to a staff member first.
    • Avoid isolation and cultivate friendships: join interest clubs, study groups and online discussion groups.
    • Balance your studies with social, recreational and sporting activities.

Information and resources

The University of Melbourne offers student support services as well as opportunities for extra-curricular and social activities. It is the student’s responsibility to make enquiries and follow up any issues.

  • Study adjustments

    You should initiate any enquiries about study adjustments with a Student Equity Adviser before your commence your studies. Possible adjustments include:

    • provision of note-takers or interpreters
    • alternative exam or assessment arrangements
    • alternative formats and use of adaptive technology
    • access to transcripts and captioning
    • extensions for assessment tasks.

  • Discussing your condition

    Some strategies can be implemented without discussing your condition. However, to provide ongoing support and specific study adjustments, the University needs relevant information regarding your requirements. You can contact a Student Equity Adviser to discuss appropriate adjustments while maintaining confidentiality.

  • Student rights

    Students with a disability have rights under the Disability Discrimination Act. If you feel your needs are not being met, you should discuss this with your lecturers or a Student Equity Adviser. If you are dissatisfied, complaints can be lodged through the University’s Complaints and Grievances procedure. If you are still dissatisfied, you can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission.

  • Resources

    Online resources are very useful and easy to access. Stop 1 and library staff can suggest and help source study-related information and references.You may also refer lecturers and tutors to a Student Equity Adviser for further information and advice.

    For a list of peak bodies and support groups, please visit preparing for study and community organisations.

Adapted from the original publication (the University of Melbourne and Australian Catholic University collaboration) funded by the Commonwealth Department of Education Employment Training and Youth Affairs under the Victorian Co-operative Projects for Higher Education Students with a Disability Committee, 1997. 
Written by Reem Al-Mahmoud, Patricia McLean, Elizabeth Powell, Janette Ryan. 
Revised version funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations under the National Disability Coordination Officer Program, 2009.