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Communication Options
There are many different communication options available for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. There is not any one option that works best for all students. Here are some of the options and a brief description of each.

Auditory Oral-Children learn to maximize their residual hearing through the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants, and educational and therapeutic techniques that support development of audition and spoken language.

The goal of the auditory/oral method is to help children develop the spoken language and academic skills they need to be successful in a regular classroom environment and to work and live in a predominately hearing society. To meet that goal, children are often educated, at least for a time, in an intensive language-rich environment with other students with hearing loss.

Some auditory/oral education and therapy programs also have a strong visual component. In other words, there is an emphasis on using visual techniques to teach speech. In some cases, speech (lip) reading skills are targeted as a supplement to hearing. However, because of the vast improvements in hearing technology (hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems), there has been movement away from teaching speech reading.

Most auditory-oral educators/therapists focus on developing and strengthening a child’s auditory, speech/ language and pre-academic development as these will be the skills that he or she will rely on most when learning in a regular classroom.

Auditory-Verbal- method is similar to the auditory/oral approach in that there is a strong emphasis on maximizing a child’s residual hearing and his ability to use it. Based on evidence that even children with minimal hearing can be taught spoken language through learning to listen, the Auditory-Verbal method has a set of guiding principles that are used by professionals and parents who follow the method.


Cued speech- is a visual communication system that can be used to demonstrate phonetic information for children who may not be able to learn entirely though amplified hearing.

Designed to enhance lipreading ability, cued speech combines the natural mouth movements of speech with eight hand shapes (cues) that represent different sounds of speech. For example, the hand shapes help the child distinguish sounds that look the same on the lips-such as "p" and "b". In addition to the eight hand shapes, there are four positions around the mouth, each of which represents several vowel sounds. Some children who use Cued Speech also enroll in programs that emphasize auditory/oral development.


Bi-lingual/Bi-cultural- American Sign Language is a manual communication method taught as a child's primary language, with English taught as a second language. American Sign Language is recognized as a true language in its own right and does not follow the grammatical structure of English. There is also a Deaf Culture that is part of this philosophy.

Total Communication- uses a combination of methods to teach a child, including a form of sign language, finger spelling, speech reading, speaking and amplification.


Information was adapted from the Alexander Graham Bell Organization