Making online learning accessible for deaf students

As we are now into our third lockdown, schools are closed and we are back to remote learning, Deaf pupils will find it challenging and difficult.

It is important that any such remote teaching is accessible.

Education settings are legally required to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that the pupil can still access any teaching or learning.

It can be difficult for deaf pupils online, as sometimes speech isn’t clear, people are all talking at once and the deaf child will feel isolated, frustrated and may find it difficult to access their work.

There are many ways we can help:

Make everything accessible

Many schools will use online platforms to set work, receive homework and provide contact between teachers and pupils. This could be an issue for deaf children, especially those who need a high level of in-class support. Video conferencing sites such as Zoom or Google classroom will help deaf children to pick up on some of the visual clues they usually rely on, helping them to understand information and activities.

If video content is used, it needs to be accessible, so using speech-to-text technology like Google Transcribe, or YouTube’s subtitling function to provide captions, will be beneficial. Although the quality of these services can vary, if needed they can be checked and manually edited to make sure they’re accurate.

For online teaching, automatic video captions using speech recognition can be found on:

  • Google Hangouts
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Zoom
  • All videos, real time learning sessions, and pre-recorded learning sessions need to be captioned.

When connecting with students through video conferencing, keep in mind the quality of sound, background noise, lighting, visual distraction, and the placement of the camera, as well as captioning and/or interpreting.

When communicating with learners via video call:

  • Always have the speaker’s face visible. Have light on your face rather than behind your head and speak at a steady pace, taking pauses between important points.
  • Circulate corrected transcripts to all learners shortly after the video call has ended. is a free app that generates transcription with punctuation.
  • It’s a good idea to use the chat while teaching so the deaf pupil can follow the instructions.
  • Repeat what another pupil has said, so the deaf child fully understands.
  • Check in with them after the call to make sure they fully understood and whether they need extra help.


How to get captions on for Hearing impaired pupils.

If you need any advice or information, please contact SENDsuccess Hi team: