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Communication Planning Guide for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Language and Communication Modality


Section 1

The purpose of this section is to address language and communication modality use throughout a student’s day to support continuous access and engagement in educational opportunities. Students need to develop English language literacy skills based on their individual abilities and potential, to ensure academic success no matter what modality they use to communicate. Deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) students often “code switch” based on the needs of their communication partner. This means students need to have an awareness of their partner’s communication needs and their own preference. This is an important self-advocacy skill for deaf and hard of hearing students to develop, and they should be meaningfully guided and supported as they develop this skill. When possible, include the student in the discussion of his/her preferred communication modes.

As teams plan for addressing the language and communication modality, ensuring access and engagement for a student across a school day, consider:

Sample Discussion Questions

  • Is the student’s language level sufficient to acquire the grade-level skills and concepts of the general education curriculum? If not, how will the team address the development of language skills?
  • What communication mode does the student use to communicate with peers, hearing and deaf?
  • What communication mode does the student use to communicate with adults, hearing and deaf?
  • What communication mode does the student use in familiar situations?
  • What communication mode does the student use in new and unfamiliar situations?
  • Does the student change communication mode based on the environment (e.g., general education classroom, resources room, playground, gym class, lunchroom, hallway)?
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