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Deafness and Hard of Hearing Unit

Now that you’ve had the Deafness and Hard of Hearing unit, here are a few follow up activities so you can learn more and have fun. Choose one, two or all three!

Read the book

El Deafoby Cece Bell

This book is also available for free as a ebook here: 

And, as a free e-book through the Minuteman Library Network on Hoopla: 

Need more help? Check with your school librarian or your local library. For more ways to find books, you can click this link: Find Books!


If you have any trouble getting the book from a library,

You can hear the Inside Story of El Deafo from Cece Bell herself! Watch her discuss each chapter in recorded videos, beginning with Chapter 1 below.

*Note: views expressed by author are her own

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After you read the book, try answering these questions: 

  1. How does the author show some of her challenges after she loses her hearing? Do you think it is easier to use a graphic novel to describe this?
  2. What do you think about the challenges she had learning to lip read? What were the cues that she used to help her figure out what others were saying?
  3. What are some of the ways you could make it easier for someone who reads lips?
  4. What were some of the ways that Cece’s friends helped her? How did Cece help others?
  5. What were some of the things others did that were NOT helpful, from her point of view? When did she feel left out?
  6. What were some of the adaptations and technology that Cece used? What gave her “superpowers”?
  7. What is the difference between “being different” versus “being alone”?
  8. How did the character she created, “El Deafo,” help Cece learn to stand up for herself?
  9. Why do you think Cece did not want to learn sign language?
  10. How did Cece feel about being deaf early in the book? How did she feel about others knowing she was deaf? How did that change?

Graphic Novel Activity

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Try This!

Offline activity: 

Make your own graphic novel like CeCe Bell did with El Deafo – or even just one page. Draw pictures and add comments about something that happened in your life, and your friends and family.

*note – these links will take you an outside webpages,

Click on image to download a printable copy.

Fingerspelling Activity

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Try This!

Learn American Sign Language Fingerspelling with these web-based resources.

For a good close up of the hand shape and nothing else:
*note – these links will take you to an outside webpage

A handshape slideshow

Hand showing sign language

And now try this for a little bit of practice figuring out words being spelled

Hand showing sign language

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Try This!

Offline activity:  You can download worksheets and use them offline to practice fingerspelling.
*note – these links will take you to outside webpage – resource is free but create login first.

Image of a worksheet that shows ASL fingerspelling handshapes underneath blank spaces separated into words.

Interview an Expert!

Ask a parent if you have a relative or family friend with deafness or who is hard of hearing. Contact that person and interview them using this conversation starter and questions (but feel free to ask some of your own, too!).

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Try This!

Interview an Expert with a Deafness or Hard of Hearing.

Conversation Starter – Use this screen or download the pdf and print: 
Interview an Expert with Deafness or Hard of Hearing PDF

Thank you for talking to me. I am learning about Deafness and Hard of Hearing through the Understanding Our Differences program at school. I’d like to ask you a few questions so I can understand your experiences.

  1. How and when did your deafness or hard of hearing start? Was it something you had from when you were born, from an illness or getting older, or from an injury?
  2. Do you use any special techniques, strategies or technology to help you communicate and to accomplish things you want to do? Please describe those to me and give me an example or two of what you use and how it helps.
  3. Have you ever had someone treat you differently because you have deafness or hard of hearing?
  4. How do you want people to treat you? What is your favorite way for people to offer help if you need it?
  5. What kinds of hobbies do you have? Do you have a pet, either now or earlier? What activities do you enjoy?

Thank you very much for speaking with me today. I’ve learned that it’s important to understand people’s experiences with disabilities, and also to understand what people have in common. (Tell the person if you, too, like one of their hobbies or interests.)

Photo of a smiling girl student holding a notebook and pencil.

The Understanding Our Differences curriculum is protected by copyright, © 2010-2023. Understanding Our Differences, Inc. All rights reserved. The Understanding Our Differences curriculum is not to be altered, photocopied, shared with other entities, or reproduced in any way, and is not to be resold.

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