Ask a College Advisor: What Accommodations Do Colleges Offer for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students?

Learn about accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing students from one of our education professionals.

portrait of Michelle N. Wolf
by Michelle N. Wolf

Updated March 29, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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Ask a College Advisor: What Accommodations Do Colleges Offer for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students?

Question: What accommodations do colleges offer for deaf and hard of hearing students?

Answer: You've started looking at colleges, and now you're wondering how they're going to accommodate you as a deaf or hard of hearing student. Figuring out how to access disability services may be daunting, but asking what accommodations are available is the best place to start.

Planning for college as a deaf or hard of hearing student includes knowing what accommodations are available and what accommodations will best suit your needs.

When many people think of accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing persons, an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter often comes to mind. However, you may not know or use ASL. The good news is there are lots of other options available, including those listed below.

When considering the above accommodations, you should know that not every college offers all of them. Contact the schools you're interested in and find out what specific accommodations they provide. Oftentimes, this information is available on the school's website, but that is not always the case. Some schools offer accommodations on a case-by-case basis and prefer to discuss each student's needs individually.

It's also important to note that accommodations are not one-size-fits-all. While ASL interpreting works for many deaf students, you may prefer a combination of accommodations, such as CART and note-taking services alongside an ALD for larger classroom settings.

Because accommodation needs vary, it's a good idea to register with your school's disability office as soon as possible. If there is an option to identify as a student with a disability on your registration paperwork, check that box. If there is an opportunity to have a representative from the disability office contact you to discuss your disability and what accommodations might be available, take it.

Keep in mind that some schools — especially large universities — have separate offices for handling student accommodations on campus and accommodating the public for general events. If you are attending a public event on your school's campus, don't assume that your accommodation will automatically be available. When it's an event for the public held on campus, there should be a designated ADA person to contact to request services and accommodations.

Summary

Choosing a college can be a lengthy process, and it may feel even more complicated if you have concerns about accommodations. Reach out to your college's disability department early and often. Don't be afraid to ask questions, and advocate for yourself if you believe you're not receiving the right accommodations.

The staff and the faculty are there to help you learn and succeed, and they want and need to know what will benefit your learning journey. There is a lot of interest in making college more accessible to underrepresented groups. Oftentimes, the first step is simply making sure a school meets your learning needs.

Have a Question About College?

In our Ask a College Advisor series, experienced advisors provide an insider look at the college experience by answering your questions about college admissions, finances, and student life.

DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.


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