Resources for Disabled Students

Students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Students who are Deaf, hard of hearing or have other conditions that affect their hearing may find the following information useful.


Students who are Deaf/hard of hearing will be provided access to all academic programs for which they are academically qualified. They are also expected to meet the same requirements as other students for admission and for graduation.

Students for whom American Sign Language (ASL) is a primary language are expected to basically understand written and verbal English as appropriate to a higher education environment. In general, course requirements are not modified as an accommodation. Students must be able to comprehend abstract ideas as well as perform concrete tasks.

The method to demonstrate mastery of knowledge is commonly at the discretion of instructors. While some courses require this demonstration through papers and projects, students are more likely required to illustrate how much they know through exams. It is possible to accommodate students through different testing environments and formats. Students are not necessarily graded on effort although some instructors may factor this in when determining final grades.

Students who maintain a cumulative 2.0 grade point average (GPA) or above are considered in good standing with the university. Students who fall below a 2.0 cumulative GPA will be placed on probation. Students then have 2 semesters in which to raise their GPA to a 2.0 or better. At the end of two semesters, if a student's GPA is still below a 2.0, he/she will be dismissed from the university. (Petitions for exceptions are possible.)

Classroom Interaction

Class environments can range from 200-plus student lecture halls to small seminar or discussion groups.

As with any other student, a student who is Deaf/hard of hearing will be expected to participate in class discussions. A student is encouraged to contact his/her instructors during the first week of the semester so that he/she is familiar with a student's particular communication style/manner. At this time, a student also may discuss any other needs he/she may have in a hearing environment that may affect the acquisition of information.

The types of accommodations most commonly used by students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing are: sign language/oral interpreters, FM systems and note takers. When resources are available, real-time captioning and c-print (enhanced note taking on a computer) may also be provided.

Some courses may use videos as instructional aids. Unfortunately, not many of these videos will be closed-captioned. There are several options available to accommodate Deaf/hard of hearing students who need to view videos. Please contact the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services for possible suggestions.

Instructor Awareness

Not all instructors may have had experience working or communicating with someone who is Deaf/hard of hearing. A student may need to help orient the instructor to his/her particular communication needs to help ensure appropriate interaction.

If a class requires an interpreter, RDS will provide the instructor with written information for suggestions on how best to work with a student who is Deaf/hard of hearing.  Interpreters are expected to meet with the instructor prior to the class to discuss how best to be a facilitator for communication for the student, the instructor and other students in the class.  If a real-time captionist or c-printist is provided, the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services will also contact each instructor prior to the beginning of classes to arrange for appropriate seating and any other details that may arise.

FM systems are also available for students who do not use interpreters and have enough hearing to benefit from them.  RDS provides these systems on loan to an individual student for his/her time at the university. RDS will facilitate the use of the systems between the student and instructor as needed.

In general, note takers are volunteers from within a particular class. Often instructors are able to help identify potential note takers in a class. Instructors may also be able to share lecture notes and/or copies of overheads. However, some material may not be available to students due to copyright protections.  If a volunteer note taker is not sufficient for the demands of a particular course, paid note takers may be provided to ensure the student has appropriate support for obtaining notes.

If a real-time captionist or c-printist is provided as an accommodation, a student will be provided with a hard copy of the lecture as transcribed. However, a student may also need to interact directly with an instructor for clarification of class material.

Other Academic Needs

Generally, if a student needs to meet with an instructor immediately after class, arrangements can be made with one of the class interpreters.

An accommodation will be provided through RDS if a student needs support for communication:

  • to attend group meetings for classes,
  • to attend tutoring sessions,
  • to attend events required by class,
  • to meet with an instructor, or
  • to communicate in any other academic situation

When possible, prior notice of the need is required (at least 3 days in advance, if possible). Other accommodations that may be needed for these occasions are provided on a case-by-case basis. Contact the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services for more information.

If a student is in a class that uses interactive computer software dependent upon sound, accommodations may take some time to arrange. A student should contact the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services as soon as possible once this type of requirement is known.


The provision of an accommodation begins only once the need is made known to appropriate university personnel. A student must be considered eligible for an accommodation based on the documented presence of a disability and the significance the limitation has to participating in a course or program.

A student who is Deaf/hard of hearing and needs accommodations in courses should first meet with the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services. After an assessment of needs, the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services will begin the process of arranging accommodations. If an accommodation requires the assistance of the instructor, the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services will provide the student with a letter that will be given to each faculty member for each course for which an accommodation will be needed. This letter verifies for the faculty member that the accommodation is appropriate for a student's need. A faculty member need not provide any accommodation simply on the word of a student.

In addition, if specific arrangements need to be made with a faculty member, the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services will be able to facilitate these arrangements, providing he/she is contacted in a timely manner.

There are no guarantees that a student will receive exactly the accommodation requested.  Accommodations are provided that give effective access to the academic environment and for which resources are available.

Interpreting-- Sign Language and Oral

Oral or sign language interpreting services are provided, at no charge, to qualified Deaf/ hard of hearing students for classes and other academic meetings or university sponsored programs. There are two qualified interpreters on staff in the RDS office. One is the Coordinator for Interpreting Services. The other is a Lead Interpreter. One or the other is normally available in the office for drop-in interaction. However, both also interpret classes and may be out of the office at specific times. Although other RDS staff may not be very proficient in sign language, all are willing to communicate with students through alternative means when necessary.

RDS also contracts with qualified interpreters from the surrounding community for classroom/other accommodations. All interpreters employed by the university through RDS are graduates of a recognized Interpreter Training Program and/or otherwise have the skills necessary to interpret a college level curriculum.

Requests for interpreters for classes and academic situations need to be made through the RDS Coordinator of Interpreting Services in a timely manner in order to ensure assignments of interpreters can be made appropriately.

Real-Time Captioning/C-Print

Real-time captioning and C-Print are relative new services at Colorado State University. These methods are primarily for students who are severely hard of hearing and who DO NOT know American Sign Language (ASL) and for whom an oral interpreter is not an adequate support.  Resources are limited; therefore, these services are available to a limited number of students for whom equitable access to an academic program can be provided through no other means. A real-time captionist or C-printist does not substitute for a student attending a particular class.


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