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Good Lecture Practices

Prepared in observance of WHO World Hearing Day, 2020 

 

Why Do Good Lecture Practices Matter?

In March 2020, Audition Technology participated in the World Health Organization’s World Hearing Day. As part of World Hearing Day, we met with Carnegie Mellon University students and faculty with hearing loss to learn about their experiences. Over the course of the day, our participants shared stories of unsupportive academic environments that hindered their studies. These descriptions of inaccessible teaching at a major university demonstrated the need to provide information about good lecture practices to both professors and students.

 

Reaching Out to Professors

While it may seem daunting to speak to professors about their lecture practices, all students benefit when professors use good lecture practices. Not only do these measures make classes more accessible for hearing-impaired students, they lead to clearer lectures that all students can follow more easily, as well as better communication between professors and students.

 

  1. Be proactive! If your professor’s lectures are inaccessible from the beginning of the semester, they won’t improve unless someone points it out.

  2. Talk to your classmates, and consider reaching out to your professor as a group. Your feedback will appear more important if you can show that other students share the same concerns.

  3. Point out specific issues in lectures. Professors can better understand and address your concerns if you tell them the problem as clearly as possible.

  4. Offer solutions whenever possible. Some professors may not know how to use classroom technology or improve their lecture style — in these cases, you can offer your own suggestions or direct them to the appropriate department at your university. See tips below for discussion with your professor.

  5. Do some research on your university’s policies. Many schools require professors to take some accessibility measures, such as providing captions for videos and making announcements in writing. Reminding your professors of these policies may make them prioritize your concerns.

  6. Consider offering feedback through other avenues. If your school has an office of Disability Services, they may be able to act as a liaison between you and your professor, and may be able to offer you other support.

  7. For students without hearing impairments: Remember that you don’t need to be hearing-impaired to reach out to your professors about their lecture practices. Your proactive advocacy will help everyone in your class, and will benefit your professor in the long run.

  8. For students with hearing impairments: If you’re worried that a professor might discriminate against you if you disclose your hearing loss, talk to your school’s office of Disability Services about your concerns. They may be able to advocate for you while maintaining your anonymity.

 

Points for Discussion for Your Professor

  1. Face class and leave face unobscured. Don’t talk while handing out papers or doing anything that requires you to face away from the students.

  2. When repeating instructions, don’t paraphrase. Use the exact same language.

  3. Repeat student questions before answering them, so that all students get a chance to hear the original question.

  4. Minimize background noise (close doors/windows if necessary).

  5. Use all possible assistive listening technology or lecture hall microphones. Make sure that you’re comfortable with using the technology correctly, and reach out to make sure you’re using it correctly.

  6. Provide all verbal lecture content in written handouts ahead of time as well.

  7. Make important announcements in writing online, not just verbally.

  8. Use captioned videos or provide a transcript of the video if you can’t find a captioned version.

  9. Leave space in the front row of the lecture hall so hearing-impaired students can sit there if they choose.

  10. Make sure that all important information is easy for students to see (you can be seen from all seats, the lighting is good, etc.)

  11. Use clicker technology to take questions from class, and repeat questions out loud.

  12. Ask for (anonymous) student feedback on lectures/presentations.