Financial Literacy in Deaf Education

by | Nov 24, 2020

Are you preparing your students for real-world financial decisions?   

It’s never too early to teach youth financial literacy. You don’t even need to wait until high school; elementary students will also benefit from learning this! Without a solid financial education, unprepared youth are more susceptible to debt traps.   

According to a survey conducted by U.S. Banks, only 77% of parents talk to their kids about saving money. Even fewer discuss budgeting and credit, while roughly 30% discuss investing or retirement. Most youths don’t receive financial education in schools either. Only 21 states require financial education to be taught – but only six states require a “Standalone High School Course…be Taken.”  

53% of Americans are anxious about managing their finances. Forbes reports that 43% of adults in the U.S. have limited buying and borrowing capabilities due to low financial literacy. Many don’t have enough cash to cover a $400 emergency, unable to pay back a student loan, have credit card debt, and have $0 saved for retirement.   

Parents and guardians have a significant impact on their children’s financial habits. Teaching financial education, as early as possible is necessary to help prepare them for adulthood. Having financial discussions in the home and advocating for broader financial education programs in schools can make a world of difference.   

However, financial education is not often accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing community due to language barriers. That’s why CSD Learns has teamed up with the Wells Fargo Foundation to provide free online financial literacy webinars in American Sign Language for the deaf community. Our current Financial Education series consists of webinars for educators that discusses financial literacy curricula and resources.    

Their most recent webinar was led by MaryEllen Graham, the Online Resources Project Specialist at the Statewide Outreach Center at Texas School for the Deaf; and Todd Bonheyo, a lecturer at Gallaudet University in the School of Science, Technology, Accessibility, Mathematics, and Public Health.   


Watch the recording, or keep reading, below to learn three takeaways for Financial Educators!   

Start Early   

Don’t wait until your students are in high school to discuss money. Even elementary school students will benefit from learning about budgeting, saving, investing, and taxes. Give them the chance to practice making financial decisions. You can start by giving them the option between buying something small like candy now or saving to buy something bigger later. You can use real or fake money to enhance the hands-on learning experience and gradually introduce more complex topics such as investments and taxes.     

Gamify Learning   

Using games has become more popular in the classroom. Games have a way of teaching without, well, teaching. For example, CashFlow Classic is a free online investment game that allows users to make financial decisions that reflect their real-life behaviors to make money. As an outcome, players learn how to invest, better understand class-based financial decision-making, and how the rich stay rich. For more financial education games, check out Edutopia’s top 10 list.    

Language vs. Literacy   

It’s important to note that most financial literacy resources are in English. Educators of deaf students not only have to translate these terms into American Sign Language, but they also must make sure that the concepts are clearly understood. For example, a financial educator discussing the Great Depression may use the sign for depression that conceptually translates to clinical depression. Students with a strong English foundation may understand that the teacher is referring to a severe economic recession. Those without a strong foundation are likely to be confused. Educators must help students read and interpret financial concepts as well as apply them to real life.     

Think outside of the Box  

Keeping them engaged around this complicated subject-matter can be difficult. Here are three tips from MaryEllen and Todd on how to better engage your students:   

Use something tangible. Give your students opportunities to apply what they have learned. Show, don’t tell, and leave yourself open for questions. Allow them to ask “why,” and then provide examples.


There’s an Excel formula for almost everything. Don’t be afraid to use them. Instead of solely relying on a traditional calculation by hand or on a device, incorporate excel to support their learning.


For additional resources, check out CSD Learns’ free Personal Finance Toolkits for all ages.

Be sure to sign up to receive updates from us about our upcoming webinars! You don’t want to miss them!  

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