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Getting Tutoring Services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students


Updated April 11, 2009

Cindy Officer worked for Gallaudet University's Tutorial & Instructional Programs for 12 years, moving through different positions from a Tutor to an Academic Support Services Counselor.

Cindy and her colleagues often get requests like "Where can I get a tutor? Where can I get a tutor for a deaf child?" and "Is tutoring a reasonable accommodation for an employee who is hearing impaired?" She offers some tips in finding the best kind of tutoring and deciding how to get tutoring.

Tutoring produces results. People who get tutoring show improved study habits, greater confidence and better grades. Deaf and hard of hearing people, in particular, who get tutoring tend to show significant improvement in their coursework and academic skills. This is why tutorial services are so important. It is not always easy to find the best kind of tutorial support. You will need to work through three processes:

  1. Figure out what kind of tutorial support you need or your child needs;
  2. Devise a tutoring plan;
  3. Determine how you will get this support.

Figuring Out "Tutorial Support"

Before searching for tutorial services, take time to identify what kind of tutoring is appropriate for you or for your child. In the minds of most people, tutoring means having a knowledgeable, experienced individual sit down with a student and carefully coach this student through areas of academic challenge. However, tutoring can come in many forms. Here are the most common forms of tutoring:
  • One-to-One/ Personal Tutoring: Student gets traditional one-to-one tutoring from a tutor.
  • Group Tutoring: Student works with other students on similar areas with the guidance of a tutor.
  • Supplemental Aides: Student uses tutorials or visual aids that help to facilitate learning of a subject matter (CDs, games, instructional videos, workbooks, supplemental reading guides, Cliff's Notes.)
  • Online Tutoring: Student goes online to get tutoring. Tutoring can happen real-time through a chat room or from instant messaging. More and more deaf people are getting tutoring over videophones and webcams. Also tutoring can happen through e-mail where a student will send a question or a writing sample to a tutor who will respond via e-mail.
  • Workshops, Training, Camps: Student attends a workshop, training or camp that specializes in the area(s) where he or she needs work.

Devising a Tutoring Plan

Have you come up with a tutoring plan yet? Having options makes more room for negotiating, especially in situations when you are working with other institutions (schools, lead educational agencies, Vocational Rehabilitation, employers) that may provide or pay for tutorial support. Look at the options above before devising a plan that you believe would be most beneficial for you or for the person you are advocating for.

When you present a clear plan, it prevents tutoring from becoming a resource left to the discretion of others. It's usually wise to select a combination of tutorial support which will become your "tutoring plan." Examples of tutoring plans could be using a live tutor for two semesters with supplemental aides, or enrolling in a camp, then following up with online tutoring sessions for six weeks. Plans like these don't have to be complex. When you have your tutoring plan, you are ready to find ways to approach getting tutoring.

If you seek tutoring for a child, please read the section "Getting Tutoring for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child" below. If you seek tutoring for yourself or for an adult, jump down to the section called "Getting Tutoring for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Adult."

Getting Tutoring for a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Child

Securing tutorial support for deaf or hard of hearing dependents may require some creativity. Tutoring services vary from state to state, even from county to county. The Commission of the Deaf's report, Towards Equality: Education of the Deaf basically states that, "The disability of deafness often results in significant and unique educational needs for the individual child. The major barriers to learning associated with deafness relate to language and communication, which, in turn, profoundly affect most aspects of the educational process."

Once you have a tutoring plan, you are ready to determine how to get tutoring implemented. The quality of tutoring often depends on the services available in your area. Some school districts provide services while other districts provide next to nothing.

  • Individualized Education Plan (IEP): Every deaf and hard-of-hearing child from the age of 3 to 21 should already have an IEP. Your tutoring plan needs to be incorporated and described in the child's IEP. The IEP should explicitly state that the tutoring plan will be implemented to meet the child's IEP goals. The school has to come up with the means to help the child reach these goals, specifically tutorial support.

    The IEP should be as detailed as possible, clearly explaining your tutoring plan so that both the parents and school understand the services that the school will provide. If the IEP has been completed for the year, parents do not have to wait until the next IEP meeting. Parents can request another IEP addendum meeting at any time to modify goals and incorporate a tutoring plan.

    On May 21, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that parents could sue schools without legal representation, a move that could save families a lot of money. This translates into opportunities for caretakers to defend their child's right to an education. If you want your child to get tutoring and the school has denied tutoring services outright, then you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Before starting any legal proceeding, be sure that you can do both of the following:

Suggested Reading
  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Hearing Loss
  4. Education
  5. Deaf Education - Getting Tutoring for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People

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