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Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired

Chapter 1

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This self-paced training module offers a collection of introductory information, evidence-based strategies, and scenarios at home, school, and in the community. It is designed to build confidence and comfort for anyone communicating or connecting with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired.

Estimated Time to Complete: 2.5 clock hours


Chapter 1: You will increase your awareness of how to:

  • Develop social connections
  • Honor personal preferences
  • Enrich community connections

Chapter 2: You will increase your understanding about how to:

  • Use a sign language interpreter
  • Provide sighted guide
  • Assess the environment

Chapter 3: You will increase your understanding of "access in action" in these situations:

  • Approaching others
  • Sharing your thoughts or asking a question
  • Providing sighted guide
  • Using a sign language interpreter

Access: The freedom or ability to obtain or make use of something.

Ally: Someone who helps or supports someone else in regards to a common interest. Allies benefit from a connection they share.

American Sign Language (ASL): A visual-spatial language used in the United States and Canada. The linguistic information is processed through the eyes and conveyed by the movement of the hands and non-manual signals. ASL has its own rules of grammar, phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax, and pragmatics.

Audio Files/Format: Audio specialized formats render content as speech to which a person listens. Audio formats include recorded human voice and synthesized electronic speech.

Auditory: Relating to the sense of hearing.

Braille: A tactile system of reading and writing made up of raised dot patterns for letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. Braille may be either embossed (a permanent printed document) or refreshable (electronically generated and accessed via a braille display device).

Cochlear Implant: An electronic device, surgically implanted, to stimulate nerve endings in the inner ear (cochlea) in order to receive and process sound signals to send to the brain via the auditory nerve.

Deaf: A cultural, linguistic term that means that a person's communication mode is visually based (either sign language or written English); residual hearing (if any) may be a secondary and supplemental sensory avenue.

Deafblind: Any combination of documented hearing and vision loss, ranging from mild to profound hearing loss and low vision to total blindness; students who are deafblind should be reported to the Ohio's Center for Deafblind Education ( for additional services.

Degree of Hearing Loss: The severity of hearing loss, typically divided into seven categories. The numerical values are based on the average of the hearing levels at three frequencies, 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, and 2000 Hz, in the better ear, without amplification. Some people use slightly smaller or slightly larger numbers for each of the following categories: Normal range: -10 to 15 dB, Slight loss/minimal loss: 16 to 25 dB, Mild loss: 26 to 40 dB, Moderate loss: 41 to 55 dB, Moderate/severe loss: 56 to 70 dB, Severe loss: 71 to 90 dB, Profound loss: 91 dB or more (

Digital Text: Digital text is an electronic format that can be delivered via a computer or another device. Digital text is malleable or flexible and can be easily transformed in many different ways depending upon student needs and the technology being used to display the content. To accommodate the needs and preferences of a user, various features of the technology which control how the content is presented can be manipulated such as size, fonts, colors, contrast, highlighting, and text-to-speech. The digital text format may contain both audio and visual output depending upon the way the content is developed and the technology that is being used.

Guide Dog: A "mobility aid" that can enable people who are blind or have low vision to travel safely.

Hearing Aids: A small electronic device a deaf/hard of hearing person wears in or behind the ear to amplify the sound.

Hard of Hearing: An individual with partial ability to hear or partial access to sound, who may communicate via sign language, spoken language, or both.

Hearing Devices: Same as Hearing Aids/Cochlear Implants.

Hearing Impaired: A term to describe an individual with any degree of hearing loss. Note: This term may be offensive to deaf/hard of hearing people as they consider "deaf" and "hard of hearing" to be more positive. Many prefer not to be labeled "impaired" as people.

Large Print: Paper based print, generally defined as print that is larger than the print sizes commonly used by the general population (8 to 12 points in size). Some use a guideline for defining large print as 18 point or larger. A document rendered in large print format usually has more white space and may or may not look like the original document but contains the same information. Large print may be printed on pages that are the same size as a standard textbook page or pages of a larger size.

Legally Blind: A level of vision loss that has been legally defined to determine eligibility for benefits. In the United States, this refers to a medically diagnosed central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best possible correction, and/or a visual field of 20 degrees or less.

Lip Reading: The interpretation of lip and mouth movements, facial expressions, gestures, and prosodic aspects of speech, structural characteristics of language, and topical and contextual cues.

Listening and Spoken Language Therapy: Application of techniques, strategies, and procedures that promote optimal acquisition of spoken language through listening.

Low Vision: A reduced level of vision that cannot be fully corrected with conventional glasses. Low vision usually interferes with the ability to carry out everyday activities. Low vision is a degree of vision loss, where individuals can be helped significantly by low vision aids and devices.

Orientation and Mobility: A set of foundational skills that uses residual visual, auditory, tactile, and other sensory information to understand, orient, and move around in an environment.

Sighted Guide: A technique that enables a person who is blind or visually impaired to use a person with sight as a guide.

Total Blindness: Refers to an inability to see anything with either eye.

Visually Impaired: A condition of the eye or visual system that results in reduced vision due to limited visual acuity or a visual field that cannot be corrected using standard corrective lenses.

Visual: Relating to the sense of sight.

White Cane: A tool used by individuals with vision loss for increased safety and confidence while traveling and for identification purposes.

Sources for this Glossary include: Assistive Technology Internet Modules Glossary (ATIM):,, The Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness Glossary of Terms:, Definition of Guide Dog:

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3