Tutoring Strategies for LD Students

by Ellen Beck, Cindy Ebeling, Rhonda Madden, Margie English, Jules Nelson Hill, & Linda Williams; March 1998.

Why MUST educators offer TUTORING to deaf students with LD?

  • Having both deafness and learning disabilities increases the level of challenge a student faces;
  • Keeps bright and otherwise competent students in school;
  • Improves their academic performance and grades;
  • Diversifies their skills; (study skills, learning skills, organization skills)
  • Increases their self-confidence;
  • Students have become better advocates for people with learning disabilities;
  • It is a reasonable accommodation in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

How can deaf students with LD be tutored?

The techniques listed below while helpful for any student are often necessary for deaf students with learning disabilities. (Note: Some suggestions are interchangeable. For example, one technique listed under math and science may work just as well with reading.)


  • Give student time, time, and more time.
  • Tutor in a quiet environment, especially an environment free from visual noise.
  • Present information in small manageable steps.
  • Give examples.
  • Offer materials from tutorial session for student to bring home.
  • Write directions for assignments.
  • Relate material to studentís everyday life.
  • Experiment with large print.
  • Encourage brainstorming.
  • Allow frequent breaks.
  • Encourage questions.
  • Restate information in a variety of ways.
  • Prepare student for changes in routine.
  • Present same information in different ways. (text, graphs, charts, drawings)
  • Use technology in any way possible (WWW, Spelling Check, Learning Software)

Math and Science:

  • Use color coding
  • Memorize or drill for rote learning while walking or exercising
  • Do flowcharting, diagramming
  • Use flashcards
  • Use graph paper instead of lined paper
  • Provide opportunity for touching and handling instructional materials
  • Use stimulation e.g. board games
  • Use hands-on activities


  • Ask process-centered questions. (How many pages? When is the paper due?)
  • Ask students to write down two subject-centered questions about their topic (What do I already know? What do I need to find out?)
  • Create a time line for each step in the writing process
  • Ask questions to make sure reading material is understood
  • Give simplified handouts of documentation style (APA, MLA) and explain it using signs and showing examples.
  • Use pre-writing techniques (brainstorming, mapping, outlining, jotting notes)
  • Formulate a thesis statement by asking questions that will refine the statement
  • Remind students to follow their pre-writing outline or map
  • Keep one page for each supporting topic
  • Ask students to read/sign paper and make changes they see necessary
  • Ask students to sign problem areas


  • Discuss unfamiliar vocabulary before they appear in instructional material.
  • Use highlighter to call attention to key words or phrases.
  • Read/sign aloud.
  • Provide outlines for lessons on new material.
  • Have student scan book, chapters, bold print, pictures to come up with an idea of what the author's will talk about.
  • Discuss review questions, teacher's questions.
  • Have student take notes while reading.
  • Have open discussion about material on hand.
  • Probe for information by asking questions. Try to elicit responses that elaborate what the student knows about material. (Avoid "yes/no" questions.)
  • Use sketches, maps, webs, flow chart.

What should be expected of a tutor?

A well-trained tutor

  • has received training in the general characteristics of learning disabled student;
  • does not confuse delayed learning (as perhaps a result of deafness) with learning disabilities;
  • is consistent in tutoring style;
  • shows patience;
  • respects studentís confidentiality;
  • is familiar with tutoring techniques listed above;
  • demonstrates creativity to explore their own ideas in developing instructions, but
  • informs student ahead of time of any changes that will take place in the tutoring process
  • has heightened sensitivity and awareness of student needs.
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