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Preparing for College Handbook

Are you looking forward to college but also feel a little nervous? You're not alone! Check out AG Bell’s College handbook for quick tips, advice from deaf and hard-of-hearing graduates, and resources to help you excel in your studies.

Guide to Higher Education

College is a place to discover new passions, meet new friends, and find yourself along the way! There are many questions to consider as your begin your college search and selection process, which is why we have created this guide with quick tips, advice from students like you who are deaf and hard of hearing, and AG Bell resources to help you thrive in college.

Before you start researching schools, you should…

  • Make sure you are familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act and your rights as a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Understand how to receive resources from Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Keep in mind that Vocational Rehabilitation Services may vary by state!
  • Have an idea of what equipment you will need to thrive in school. A few options to consider are:
    • Captioning Services
    • FM/RM System for Hearing Aids
    • FM System for Cochlear Implants
    • A vibrating bed shaker and/or vibrating pillow shaker
    • A smart watch for reminders, messages, and alarms
    • Strobe light for fire alarm or doorbell

While you’re researching schools, you should…

  • Ask yourself if you would be more comfortable at a large university or small college. The most important thing to consider is if this is the right environment for you.
  • Get in touch with the college’s Disabilities Office to ask about the services they provide for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. A few services to consider are:
    • Notetakers and other assistive services
    • CART
    • Preferential seating
    • Extended test time
    • Extended lab time
    • Telecoil or Room loop

Once you’ve committed to a school, you should…

  • Keep in touch with the Disabilities Office throughout your entire college experience. They will be able to support you if you come across any challenges.
  • Stay involved and find student organizations that align with your interests.
  • Advocate for yourself in class and on campus. You are in charge of your education and college experience.
  • Connect with AG Bell for additional resources, support, internship opportunities, and more! We are always here for you.
  • Be confident! You are going to do great.

If you need financial aid…

If you are looking for internship opportunities…

  • We recommend getting in touch with your college’s Career Center and/or Disabilities Office. Not only will they be able to connect you with interesting organizations, but they will also be able to help you perfect your resume and ace interview questions.
  • Take a moment to look through these prestigious internship opportunities.
  • And don’t forget about AG Bell! We have internship opportunities for college students and post-grads. 

If you need additional resources…

  • Look no further than AG Bell! We have resources for students and professors to make the learning experience as seamless as possible.

Quick Tips from College Students Like You!

On self-advocating:

“I was in a classroom that didn’t have air conditioning, so they had these huge fans on to try to circulate the air. I couldn’t hear anything over the noise, so I talked to the professor and asked her to wear my assistive technology. The next week, we moved to a different classroom in a newer building that had air conditioning. I was impressed by her effort, and it all happened just because we talked. So remember to be an advocate! You might be surprised what people will do if you are honest about your hearing loss.”  – Anna

On roommates and RAs:

“If you are living on campus, it’s important to tell your RA and the people in housing that you have hearing loss. There are assistive devices to help with alarms, but I still slept through a fire alarm once. Thankfully it was just a drill, but I think it’s important to let people know just in case a real emergency happens.” – Jasmine

On small colleges:

“I attended a smaller school. Everyone was very kind, but there weren’t many students who had hearing loss. In fact, I think I was the first student to ever give a microphone to my professors, so most of them didn’t know how it worked with hearing aids. The best part of going to a small school though was that I had the opportunity to talk directly to a lot of the teachers and students. I think I was good for the school too, because when I went to the Academic Enrichment Center, they had never heard about the Roger Pen. But they were willing to listen, which I think says a lot.” – Abbey

On large universities:

“One thing I thought about a lot when I was looking at schools was if I would be the first deaf student those professors had met, or if I would be the first deaf student to go through this program. It seemed like that was the case at the smaller schools. For me, the appeal of a larger university was that they were much more experienced and knowledgeable about working with students with hearing loss. They had seen people like me come through the gates before.” – James

On mindset shifts:

“One thing I realized quickly was that passing off my microphone to the professors before class was a great way to differentiate myself from other students. I often used it as a way to make small talk and I noticed that in larger classes I would get called on to answer questions just because they knew my name. It also benefited me in getting mentors and letters of recommendation, so don’t view it as an ordeal that you have to go through—it’s an opportunity.” – John

On being transparent:

“In my experience, it’s important to be clear about your needs with friends, such as being able to read their lips or being able to follow conversations. I let my friends know that I needed captions for movies. After I told them that, I noticed them speaking up and asking people to put captions on movies. It’s nice to see that kind of thoughtfulness from others.” – James

On educating others:

“As a student with hearing loss in an audiology program, I thought that everybody would be accommodating. It was just a lesson learned that even the people you would think would be understanding are not always, and I still had to educate them on my rights and what it’s actually like to have hearing loss.” -Brittany

On disability services:

“As far as services go, CART helped me feel confident in my ability to follow and understand my classes. CART was really great at filling in gaps that I didn’t know existed until I read the transcript. My school also gave me access to this portal where I could request captioning for my classes, specify what type of captioning I wanted, and whether I wanted it to be someone in person or remote. I could also request captioning for university events and club meetings that I wanted to attend. I had a really great experience with our Disabilities Office and the services they offered.” -John

AG Bell membership for families is always free!

Family membership benefits:

  • Financial Support

    Scholarships for technology, therapy, and education

  • Professional Guidance

    Speak to a parent who's been there or search for a certified therapist.

  • State Chapters

    Connect with and get support from local families like yours!

  • Resource Library

    Get answers with access to our information library

  • Volta Voices

    A bilingual magazine with in-depth stories about growing up with hearing loss

  • Loft & Leap

    Access to unique leadership & educational programs for teens

Seeking an AG Bell professional membership?

Get listed on our searchable professional directory, find educational and research resources, scholarships and mentorship.

Professional Membership Has Its Benefits

Join today to connect with fellow members, exchange insights, get listed in our global directory, and celebrate the journey of listening & spoken language.

Professional benefits include:

  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

    Earn CEUs through the AG Bell Academy, at our yearly Symposium, or through events held throughout the year for members

  • $100 off Exam Fees

    Take your Listening and Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS®) certification exam for less!

  • Event Discounts

    Discounted registration to AG Bell’s symposium and other events, plus special discounts on travel, restaurants, retail shops and more

  • LSL Professional Directory

    Get listed and found by families that need your services and students that want your mentorship

  • LSL Leading Edge

    An exclusive e-newsletter for AG Bell professional members packed with the latest news and developments in hearing health and the listening & spoken language field

  • Volta Voices 

    AG Bell’s award-winning, quarterly digital magazine in English and Spanish

  • Access to AG Bell’s Network

    Connect with 40+ state chapters located throughout the United States and Puerto Rico

  • Professional Opportunities

    Get involved in AG Bell through committees, task forces, councils and other venues for members to interact and contribute meaningfully

  • The Volta Review 

    Stay current with the latest research through our peer-reviewed, online professional research journal

Seeking membership as a friend or family member?

Membership is always free for family & friends of people who are deaf or hard of hearing and helps connect individuals to our professional community!