How to Make the Most Out of the College Experience When You Have Hearing Loss

UbiDuo communication device used in many colleges for the hard of hearing

UbiDuo communication device used in many colleges for the hard of hearing

By Andrea Leni / Guest Blogger

College is hard enough to get through on your own, but for people coping with hearing loss, the challenge is even steeper. Although there are helpful technological and scientific advancements to assist with hearing, the solution doesn’t have to involve cost or compensation. There are plenty of helpful tricks for dealing with the environment of lectures, lessons, and quizzes when you have been dealt the hand of hearing loss to give you the best possible shot at success.

As frustrating as hearing loss can be, it’s important to put the setback into perspective as just that: a setback. Your goals in dealing with hearing loss should be finding ways to mediate that loss with clearer, louder audio than may be readily apparent, but that is also readily available. Classrooms of all varieties offer a number of savvy excuses for students to take control of their lectures and their courses if they aren’t absorbing enough information in the classroom, and this is where students suffering from hearing loss can level the playing field.

The Sound of Success

The advent of the online world and mobile file technology has caused classrooms in nearly every college to subvert the standard practice and begin exploring this uncharted territory with incentive. Innovative tools are constantly developed to help students utilize their courses and coursework on the go. While these innovations are not targeted specifically at students coping with hearing loss, they can nevertheless be a great service by allowing you to experience your classroom with the clarity and volume of headphones.

Employing Technology to Help with College

Most introductory college courses are now widely available online, either from the college’s website or from the educational section of iTunes. This is a helpful option for those students who cannot clearly hear the lecture in the classroom, and who need a contained and controlled environment to truly “take in” the given lecture.

If new technological options such as audio files of lectures are not readily offered by your college already, then take advantage of modern technology on your own. Although most students play with the tools of modern technology for the sake of convenience, that convenience can be an incredibly helpful necessity for those students who are hard of hearing. Explain your situation to the professor and ask if you can be permitted to record audio on your own. Being able to absorb a lecture or listen to test instructions through the usage of headphones can make all the difference when hearing loss is getting in the way of your studies.

Hearing loss might not be an everyday occurrence for your fellow students, but it doesn’t have to be an impediment to your learning. Talk with your teachers or teachers’ assistants about having a designated seat in the front of the room if the room is particularly large. Encourage your teachers to write down important points of their lecture in case you cannot hear them on the given day.

It’s important for those students who are suffering from hearing loss to understand that it should be treated as a condition which can be countered when involving themselves in their studies, even if in some occasions there may be special circumstances required in order to cope. Hearing loss does not have to be treated as a detrimental thing that is preventing you from achieving your academic goals.


Andrea Leni is a freelance writer and transcriber in the United States, contributing frequently to online college website such as In her free time, Andrea enjoys spending time with her two sons, and walking their dog Toby.


17 thoughts on “How to Make the Most Out of the College Experience When You Have Hearing Loss

  1. I started going back to college a year and half ago. I use two sign language interpreters. I am being much more successful in school this time around than when I got my BA in 1976.

    I happen to be enrolled at a very supportive college that goes out of its way to help me succeed. For every class I enroll in, the disabled students coordinator discusses with the teachers their teaching methods and how to help me. I’m currently taking a class in which we view a lot of videos and excerpts of films. The teacher was told before class started that everything he showed had to have captions or subtitles, and he’s been very good about complying. I get a lot of support for everything I need.

    I am loving being in school this time! I’m studying graphic design and enjoy every class session. I’ve decided it doesn’t matter what accommodations one uses, as long as one has accommodations.

  2. i’m really concerned with my school not being deaf/HOH friendly… i’m in a hearing school and professors are sooo hard to deal with sometimes. ideas?? i’ve talked to them multiple times and they do not seem interested in helping me.

    • Ashley – Have you talked to the school’s guidance counselor or your dean? Present them with this blog article. You might need to also contact your state’s vocational rehabiliation services department to find out what your rights are as a student with hearing loss. Please keep me posted on how things go.

    • Is there an office serving students with disabilities? I’d definitely check that out.

      The sad truth is you cannot change people. They’re going to go on doing what they do, even if it means you are left out. And that’s especially true for teachers and professors. That’s why you need to find an advocate, like an office for students with disabilities, or the student dean or a counselor.

      • You can do that by joining support groups. Do you have an HLAA or ALDA chapter group nearby? Or join the SayWhatClub. Or post your questions to a Facebook group for people with hearing loss. What school are you going to?

      • Ok, I looked up Christopher Newport University.and they do have Disability Support Services. They do ask for documentation of your disability and if you have a fairly recent audiogram, that should suffice. If not, again, try the support groups. In any case, if you haven’t contacted the DSS at CNU, You might like to go there in person, to the Dean of Students, in the David Student Union, room 3142. Or email is Let us know how it goes!

  3. @mogigraphia THANK YOU! i checked with the office of student affairs at the beginning of the semester and they wan’t doctors notes, etc. which makes sense. However, even with accommodations..its still really difficult to change the way professors speak to the class or just the opinions of people in general.

  4. Yes, it is. But like I said, you can’t change how professors speak or think. That’s why you need the office of student affairs behind you. They have the power to get things to change for you. If what you have isn’t working, then you need to go back and tell you that you’re still struggling and why. They don’t know you need help unless you tell them.

  5. MogiGraphia: I am glad your school is helping you succeed and make learning easier. My last school (2 years ago) would do nothing for me. I tried talking to the main instructor, secondary instructors, the school’s Disabled Student Services, the dean of that portion of the school, Division of Vocational Rehabiliation (who referred me), and a private counselor (from DVR) before giving up and eventually failing the truck driving training class. I hope Ashley doesn’t have to experience what I went through. I like your advocacy ideas. I hadn’t joined my local Hearing Loss Association chapters yet. Maybe they would have stood up for me.

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