With the rapid shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more essential than ever to expand your teaching toolbox to make online classes fully accessible — especially for students who are deaf or have diverse educational needs.

Teaching Deaf Students Online, a new self-paced professional development course, can help you adapt your online courses to ensure that they are accessible and inclusive. It is now available in the free online learning library of the National Deaf Center on Postsecondary Outcomes (NDC).

In just two hours, gain a basic understanding of accessible learning, increase your awareness of the challenges and barriers that deaf learners experience in online classrooms, and learn strategies to immediately implement in your teaching plans.

Online classes are here to stay

Over 200,000 deaf and hard of hearing students attend colleges and universities in the United States. Research shows that, even prior to the pandemic, many deaf students had experience with online instruction and at rates higher than their hearing peers: 45.7% had taken at least one online course and 17.1% did all of their undergraduate studies online.

Online classes offer deaf students many benefits: improved interactions with faculty and peers, greater access to course content, higher comprehension and learning outcomes, and fewer issues with the quality and availability of real-time accommodations. “Begrudging tolerance” is also what many deaf students encounter on campus, according to NDC’s nationwide report about college accessibility, which highlights why access is about more than accommodations.

Learn how to make online classes accessible

In two one-hour modules, Teaching Deaf Students Online uses evidence-based research and practices, real-world examples, and useful resources ready for immediate implementation.

  • Module 1 explains the framework of accessible learning, principles of Universal Design for Learning, diversity among deaf learners, effective communication about equitable access, and the barriers, benefits, and basics of online instruction.

  • Module 2 prepares faculty to improve access and inclusion in their online classes by addressing common access barriers and how they can be overcome. Topics include considering course delivery methods, addressing student expectations, managing media and content, being mindful of class communications, and accommodating remote services.

Unlike many other professional development opportunities that address working with the deaf community, this is a deaf-centered course. Created by the deaf-led team at NDC, it includes compelling student experiences from deaf people who explain firsthand the impact of their learning environments — highlighting the nuances that are essential to remember when working with a diverse deaf population.

Another NDC course, Instructional Strategies for Deaf Student Success, is also recommended for further exploration of accessible classroom environments, strengthened student engagement, and inclusive learning experiences — whether online, hybrid, or face-to-face.

Earn Professional Development Credits for Free

Teaching Deaf Students Online is free and open to all. It is a self-paced professional development online course designed for postsecondary and secondary educators, interpreters and service providers, and anyone interested in learning about how to teach deaf students online. With a passing score of 80% or above, participants receive a certificate of completion and can submit it for 0.2 RID CEUs.