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Duolingo is great for deaf people!

I'm deaf. This makes education in general challenging, and language courses pretty much impossible. Even with the best hearing aids, I understand only a fraction of what's said in English (my native language), and I could never learn a new language by hearing it spoken.

When I first tried Duolingo, I couldn't make it through even the first lesson because of not being able to hear what was said. Then a friend suggested I change my settings so that Duolingo would think my computer lacked speakers. I did that, and rapidly made progress.

I've now finished the Spanish tree, and am already using Spanish regularly. I volunteer with a group that receives around 1000 letters per month from across the United States, some of which are written in Spanish, and I now understand enough Spanish that I can respond to many of those letters. (Fortunately, all I need to do is mail pre-written materials, not write personalized letters. My writing is still pretty bad.)

There's been a lot of talk about Duolingo revolutionizing education for people who can't afford traditional language classes, but I haven't seen much mention of Duolingo's potential for deaf people. I would love to see every deaf student who has been deterred from foreign language study told about Duolingo, with emphasis on the need to turn speakers off in Duolingo's settings page.

Edited to add: Thank you to everyone who has left comments or given lingots! This is such a nice community!

April 3, 2014



Una pregunta: Could you tell me how to change my settings so that Duolingo thinks my computer lacks speakers? I'm deaf, too, and find the listening exercises a tremendous challenge.


At the top of the page, where your username appears, hover your mouse. Five options will appear, one of which is "Settings". Choose that. All the sound-related settings will then appear. I suggest choosing "off" for all of them, including "Sounds effects" so that you won't make people around you crazy. :-) Then click on "Save changes" near the top.

I'm glad to see another deaf person here!


Go to your settings which is on the top, left to the streak thing. Hover over it and you would see a thing that says settings. click on it and there you would see some buttons click "off" on the "auto replay". When you are done click on the "save changes" key. Click on "home" and it will take you back for the language learning.

Oh, and I love duolingo too!


My wife and I are learning AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language) so that we can teach our kids. Not because any of us are deaf, but because I think it will be valuable for my kids to appreciate that not everyone communicates the way they do. Also, being able to communicate silently has come in handy (pun intended) a few times already.

I've often thought that Duolingo would be great for deaf learners. Glad to see that I was right.


I am not deaf, but I know ASL (American Sign Language). I love it! I can sign several songs at my church. I wish there was an actual class I could take for it, instead of just looking out of a book.


It's great that you're teaching your kids! As with any language, the earlier it's learned, the easier it is. And sooner or later your kids are bound to encounter deaf people who will be grateful to have someone around who can sign. Even just fingerspelling can be useful. There's a group of people I hang out with that includes both a Becky and a Peggy, and it's IMPOSSIBLE to tell the difference between those two names when lipreading, so I keep wishing everyone in the group would at least learn how to fingerspell those two names.


I'm deaf too and am also learning Spanish! I nearly got put off Duolingo in the beginning because of the language settings as I didn't know I could change it, but a little exploration showed me that I could. You're right, it makes languages really accessible for Deaf people. Congratulations on finishing your tree - I'm still at an early stage but really looking forwards to getting better at Spanish :)


I am not deaf, but duolingo is seriously the best tool for learning languages. We can even discuss things, like right now. all the good things about learning languages is on duolingo.

duolingo is the best.


That is fantastic. Congratulations and well done for finishing your tree, your story is very inspirational.


Sorry if this sounds ignorant, but do you understand how the words are pronounced?


I have SOME idea how the words are pronounced, partly from reading a pronunciation guide and partly from listening to Plaza Sésamo at high volume (while reading the closed captions to know what words were being said). However, when I think about Spanish words, I think about their spelling, not their pronunciation. If I wanted to say a sentence of more than 3-4 words, I would probably need to write it first then slowly sound it out. What I can't tell you is whether my pronunciation is good enough for anyone to understand me, because I haven't yet found the nerve to attempt a spoken conversation!


I'm not deaf, but hard of hearing, and duolingo works great for me as well, just the ability of getting to hear words being read out loud, both at a slow and a normal speed, while reading, is very helpfull.

I find the listening excercises challenging, probably more than what is usual, but being a hearing person (although limited) it's something I have to get used to. The bonus is that I can ask the voice to repeat the sentence as many times as I want it to, without it getting annoyed ;)

Unfortunatly, I'm getting no help from duo on reading lips/speachreading, but I think it will work out eventually, with practice.

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