Teenagers with hearing loss - advice and tips

Parents of deaf children who are approaching their teenage years may wonder how easy it is for their son or daughter to go to university. As RNID explains, going to college is definitely an option – but do your research first

School was difficult. Will university be even harder? Studying for a degree means that you will gain independence, a chance to meet new people and increased job opportunities. Fleur Greinig was born severely deaf and teased at school but went on to read geography at the University of Plymouth.

Her first year was tiring. “I struggled with some assignments and even did the wrong assignment at times,” she says.

But as Fleur found out about benefits and got a note-taker to help with lectures, plus new digital hearing aids, she enjoyed her studies more and in June 2003 graduated with a 2:2.

Today deaf students can use electronic note-takers. Fleur said that using these aids when she went on to study for a Masters at Bristol University changed her life and gave her time to socialise.

Now 26, Fleur wishes she’d known about the support available before she started at university, such as the following:

Go on a recce

It is worth visiting the university your child plans to apply for. Go along to an open day or make a separate appointment and ask to meet someone from the university’s support service. Speak to students with disabilities who are already at the university.

Ask for the university’s 'Disability Statement,' a statement produced by most colleges and universities which will give you more background information on what they can offer. You could also chat to union welfare officers or the student union’s disability officers. Don’t be shy to ask about your specific needs!

Legal rights

Higher education institutions have to consider the needs of deaf students.

Since September 2002 it has been unlawful for universities to discriminate against deaf students as part of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Your teenager should be protected from discrimination by the course provider – for example in deciding whether a deaf person is eligible to start a particular course – and should be assisted in making the best of the course. The university is required by law to make what are called ‘reasonable adjustments.’


Any course provider should ensure that reasonable adjustments are made.

These could include:

- fitting permanent induction loops
- fitting electronic display boards
- asking lecturers to face the front and speak clearly so that the student can follow
- interpreting
- any other reasonable adjustment that would allow the deaf student to take part in normal college life without being at a substantial disadvantage to students who are not deaf.

Disabled Students’ Allowances

These are grants which do not depend on parents’ income and which can help meet extra costs for things like:

• specialised computer software to aid study
• a note-taker
• extra travel costs due to disability
• other costs

Fleur’s allowance paid for her to have a note-taker, a computer, and packages to help her written English, and she was allowed extra time in exams. Without the note-taker, her main method of study was through reading and she missed out on lectures.

“Be as detailed as you can be on the DSA form – don’t be too proud to admit you need help,” advises Fleur.

Meeting others

Discos and loud bars are not always ideal meeting-grounds for deaf students. Volunteering can bridge the gap. Fleur joined the university choral group and got a job in the library.

Go for it…

Deaf graduates like Fleur - who now works as a business manager in a primary school - would encourage prospective students and their parents to consider university study.

“My proudest moment was definitely my graduation - it showed that despite being told by teachers that I'd never get to university, that with the right help and support I could,” says Fleur. 

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Find out more

The RNID website has lots of helpful information and resources for students.

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