|Post Secondary Program
Introduction to Disability Services
Hints for Students: Using Interpreters / Transliterators
How to Request an Interpreter/Transliterator
Utilizing Notetaking Services
Tips for Notetakers
Assistive Listening Devices
Real - Time Captioning
Accommodation Availability Checklist
Post Secondary In-Classroom Support Services:
Student Support Services (Outside of Classroom):
On Site Equipment Requirements (Program Responsibility):
Equipment for Your Own Use, if desired (Student Responsibility):
Support services personnel for students with disabilities on college campuses have different titles and work out of different offices from campus to campus. Ask for the Office for Disability Services or Office for Special Needs. If you still cannot locate the right person or office, contact the college's 504 Compliance Officer through the Affirmative Action Office and ask for a referral to the appropriate office for support services.
It is helpful to bring a list of questions when meeting with the Disability Services office. The Post Secondary Program Accommodation Checklist in this section lists accommodations that might be available through the program's support services or your own resources.
Disability Service Counselor/Coordinator Responsibility
These responsibilities vary from campus to campus depending on the resources available. Usually the individual who is responsible for services for students who are deaf and hard of hearing will be responsible for coordinating the services you request, which are appropriate for your classes. Some campuses may not have an individual who works exclusively with deaf and hard of hearing students, but does work with all students with disabilities. Regardless of the particular makeup of disability services, some important functions and responsibilities are the same from one campus to another.
Documentation of Your Disability
Documentation of your disability is mandated by the ADA in order for postsecondary programs to provide accommodations. Documentation of your hearing impairment is usually satisfied by an audiological evaluation which indicates the presence of your hearing loss and its scope. Interpretation of your audiogram provides essential information in understanding your needs.
Documentation can also include a medical doctor's diagnosis. When there is a secondary disability such as a visual, cognitive processing disorder, psychological disorder, etc., specific evaluations, such as medical, psychological or specialist examinations need to be obtained. With your permission, a signed medical release form can be used to obtain information from medical doctors, medical facilities, rehabilitation agencies, and previous secondary and postsecondary education programs.
Accommodation Request Forms
Accommodation request forms indicate what specific support services you might require, based on the documentation(s) you have provided. This form is signed by you, the authorized representative of the disability services office, and class instructors to ensure that communication about what will take place is clear to everyone. Sometimes it is appropriate to distribute a copy to the testing center or another academic support component of the college if you will require accommodation provided by that program. Accommodations are based on your needs although those needs can change over a period of time from the initial request. It is important to work closely as a team to ensure that your needs are being met.
One of the most critical components for any program for deaf and hard of hearing student is interpreting services. The success of your educational experience is greatly dependent on the quality and availability of interpreting services. The interpreter most often is situated in the front of the classroom and near the instructor to allow you to have both the interpreter and instructor in your field of vision to enhance your visual cues.
Some programs utilize part-time interpreters on a contract basis depending on the need for interpreting services. Other programs have full-time interpreters on staff. Still others utilize both full-time and part-time interpreters. This varies with the size of the program and your enrollment. The extent and skill of interpreting services needed for each student is dependent on enrollment and curriculum requirements, such as whether it is a lecture class or a lab.
What is a Qualified Interpreter?
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 states:
"When an interpreter is required, the public accommodation should provide a qualified interpreter, that is, an interpreter who is able to sign to the individual who is deaf what is being said by the hearing person and who can voice to the hearing person what is being signed by the individual who is deaf. This communication must be conveyed effectively, accurately, and impartially, through the use of any necessary specialized vocabulary."
Being able to interpret effectively, accurately and impartially, both receptively and expressively determines whether one is qualified, not whether he or she is certified by an official licensing body. An individual does not have to be certified in order to meet this standard. A certified interpreter may not meet this standard in all situations, e.g., where the interpreter is not familiar with the specialized vocabulary involved in the communication at issue.
Equally important, being able to sign does not mean that a person can process spoken communication into proper signs, nor does it mean that he or she possesses the proper skills to observe someone signing and change their signed or fingerspelled communication into spoken words. Signing and interpreting are NOT the same thing. A qualified interpreter must be able to interpret both receptively and expressively.
There are several types of interpreting services which may be used in the academic setting. They are listed as:
Sign Language Interpreting - ASL, signed English, or pidgin, the interpreter "visually" relays the spoken word to your in whatever sign system agreed on.
Oral Interpreting - the interpreter "mouths" the words spoken for the deaf or hard of hearing student. Sign language may sometimes be used as a filler.
Tactile Interpreting - is used by deaf-blind students who need to "feel" the formation of signs that the interpreter is making. The student's hands are placed on top of the interpreter's hands during interpreting. On-the-palm printing can also be used by some students.
Low-Vision Interpreting - is used by deaf/low-vision students who cannot see the interpreter from an usual distance. The interpreter and student face each other at a closer distance, so that the interpreter is in the line of vision.
While interpreting, the interpreter cannot listen to the instructor, interpret, and understand what you are saying at the same time. If you need clarification from the instructor or class participants, raise your hand and ask your question. Your interpreter will voice your questions and/or responses; therefore, do not sign/cue anything that you do not want voiced in class.
Let your interpreter know what method of communication you prefer:
Clarification and discussion of your preferences at the beginning of the semester can help you avoid misunderstandings. It is important for you to work at keeping communication open.
Notetaking services can be a vital service for you in the classroom. It will be very difficult for you to watch an interpreter or read a professor's lips and take notes at the same time. Many deaf and hard of hearing students use notetakers on a regular basis to supplement class lectures and labs along with an interpreter, transliterator or an assisted listening device. Notetaking is a service that must be rendered when requested by a student with a documented disability. There are a variety of notetaking services that may be offered by your college, including:
A volunteer notetaking system which is usually another classmate who agrees to share notes with you.
An instructor can identify a student in class to take notes for you (instructors may know their students' capability as a notetaker based on prior classes).
A paid notetaking system is usually a notetaker that is either selected by the college or by you and is paid by Disability Services to share their notes. This notetaker may be a fellow classmate.
Provision of the instructor's lecture notes is another system of obtaining notes directly from the instructor after class. This system must be mutually agreed upon by Disability Services and the instructor. This is usually an option when there is not a notetaker available.
Notetaking services are provided to supplement the classroom experience and are not meant to be used as a substitute for attending class. Most colleges will not allow you to obtain copies of the class notes from your designated notetaker if you miss class. Notetakers are typically not responsible for providing information to you when you are late for class or do not show up.
If you encounter any problems with a notetaker, you might want to discuss with the individual your preference in notetaking styles or offer suggestions for improvement of the notes. If the quality of notes continues to be less than acceptable, make sure that you inform the Disability Services office immediately in order for an alternative arrangement or accommodation to be provided.
The next section offers some suggestions and tips to provide to the notetakers assigned to your classes.
Get ready to listen as the professor walks into the room. Don't wait until he/she officially begins class. Many professors do a brief review of the last class or answer questions before starting that day's lecture.
Watch the professor closely. Physical cues can help you identify important points.
Tune in for directions and cues regarding important information, both explicit and implicit such as:
Number and date all subsequent pages in numerical order. This allows the student to keep track of notes easily.
Make notes of any assignments given or dates for upcoming exams on top of the first or bottom of the last page.
Use 8 ½ x 11 inch paper (3-hole, not spiral), one side only. This leaves the other side for the student to add notes later. Using only one side of the paper ensures a cleaner, more readable copy.
Leave plenty of white (blank) space. Do not write in the margins. It is difficult to read notes on a crowded page.
Use a black pen. Black is easier to copy and to read. Note: When using self-carboning (carbonless), or carbon paper, write firmly to ensure good copies.
Write legibly. Illegible notes are worthless.
Leave blanks when you are unsure. You can go back later after class and check with the professor or the text to fill in the blanks.
Use correct spelling or write "SP?" to help you in re-checking spelling.
If no notes are taken for a class period (e.g., if the class goes to the library or for independent research), write at the top of the page the class, date, etc. as usual. Then write "NO NOTES" and briefly explain why.
Remember to write down information that is written on the board or on overheads.
Include information from videos in your notes. Videos are shown in class for a reason. While it is tempting to sit back and just watch, keep in mind that they contain important information.
Most students who use a hearing aid have difficulty understanding speech due to competing background noise. Hearing aids have a tendency to enhance all sounds at the same time, drowning out the sounds of speech. Several amplification systems are available to improve hearing ability in large areas, such as lecture halls and auditoriums, as well as in interpersonal situations (group discussions, and instructor conferences). These systems work by delivering the speaker's voice directly to the ear (with or without personal hearing aids), thus overcoming the negative effects of noise, distance and echo, thereby improving understanding ability.
The use of an assistive listening device (ALD) by students who are deaf or hard of hearing help them to hear the instructor more clearly. It is relatively simple to use. The instructor wears a transmitter that is attached to a small mike worn on the lapel. The transmitter can be placed in a shirt or skirt pocket or clipped over a belt. Moving around the classroom, the unit is not restricted at all and is very practical with no wires that are hazardous. The student then wears a receiver with volume control and a headphone. There are no distractions that create problems in a classroom. These systems are designed to enhance the hearing acuity for the wearer. No other person in class is affected and the instructor is free to move around the classroom.
The only drawback in this system is that it cuts off all other sound in the classroom, e.g., discussions and questions by other students. Working around this may simply require the instructor to repeat the question of the classmate for your who is using the ALD. For classroom instruction, the use of the personal ALD, such as the one described, is ideal. However, in a large auditorium setting, for example, other systems may be more appropriate. (See assistive listening device heading for further details on these other systems).
There are four (4) types of assistive listening devices and systems (ALDs) available. They are listed below:
FM is an abbreviation for "frequency modulated" radio waves. FM systems consist of a transmitter and a receiver. With a microphone and transmitter, sound is converted in electrical energy. This energy is "modulated" on a specific FM radio frequency where it reaches the receiver which is tuned to the same frequency. The receiver, worn by you, "demodulates" the radio signal and the electrical energy is then delivered to the ear of the listener. This can be accomplished in two ways; by using an earphone headset, or via a hearing aid with a "T" (telephone) switch and a magnetic neckloop. Using a neckloop requires the conversion of electromagnetic energy to electrical energy and then to acoustic energy. It sounds complicated when explained, however, it is a fairly easy system to use. A FM system provides good sound quality and is very effective for those with severe to profound hearing loss. Because the radio waves can penetrate walls, precaution must be taken to use separate frequencies in adjacent rooms.
An infrared listening system transmits sound via invisible lightwaves. An infrared transmitter can be directly connected from a sound source (e.g. microphone, T.V. jack). Speech enters the microphone where it is connected into the electrical energy, and then made louder at the amplifier. The electrical signal then enters the transmitter. At this point, the transmitter using lightwaves sends the electrical signal (speech) to the individual's wireless receiver where it is again changed back to electrical energy and thus, into sound. A neckloop with electromagnetic coil can also be used with this system, if one has a hearing aid with a "T" switch. Individuals with a mild to moderate hearing loss seem to benefit more from the use of infrared amplification system than someone with a severe loss. Since lightwaves do not pass through walls, transmission is confined to the room containing the sound. Additionally, infrared systems are not affected by other nearby radio frequency signals, but clear transmission can be affected by a large amount of sunlight.
Induction Loop Devices
This system employs the use of a coil of wire that transmits electromagnetic energy. An audio loop transmits sounds via a loop of wire that surrounds a seating area. There are two types of loops; a room loop, or a neckloop. Both of these coils have wires through which electricity can flow and be converted into magnetic energy and picked up by the telecoil in a hearing aid. The user's hearing aid must have a "T-switch" on it. The "T-switch" functions like an antenna, picking up the electromagnetic energy and transferring it to the hearing aid which converts it into sound. A loop can be coiled around a room, desk or a chair. The person needing the benefit of sound must within this specific area in order to hear. Coils sometimes malfunction from damage to the coil. Sound will not be converted as needed. Additionally, the use of a large loop can be problematic in some settings where mobility and safety may be an issue.
Hard Wired Devices
Unlike the other systems, hard wired systems simply require a direct connection between the sound source and the listener. This is accomplished by a direct plug-in connection or through the use of a microphone. Basically, the listener is separated from the sound source by the length of a cord that is directly connected to their hearing aid. Not all hearing aids have the capability to be hard wired to a microphone. Without this feature, this would not be workable. Hard wired systems are not practical for large rooms, but in one-on-one situations they work well and are inexpensive. Like the wireless systems, hard wired systems make it easier to understand speech when it is presented in a noise filled or an large area. Sound is directly sent to the listener bypassing these setbacks which make it hard to hear. Sound is made louder through the volume control on the hearing aid. For those with conductive types of hearing loss, this works very well.
The use of a tape recorder can be beneficial for some students with mild hearing loss. A student with this type of hearing loss is more likely not to utilize a sign language interpreter and is sometimes the most workable solution for that student's need and given resources. Some students prefer to try to follow the lecture on their own with the back up of a taped message. With this method, they can replay the lecture until they are clear on what was said in class. This type of benefit would only be helpful for a person who can hear and understand the recorded message.
You may also elect to have the taped lecture transcribed into written format. Students who have an attention disorder or cognitive processing disability in addition to a hearing impairment, often find this method helpful in regaining what was lost during the lecture. A simple means of envisioning a process of cognitive processing disruptions that occur in some students, is to think of a radio frequency that keeps going out at certain intervals, creating gaps in information.
Real-Time Captioning (RTC) is a method for deaf and hard of hearing students to have access to information in the classroom as it is happening. This access enables students to enjoy participation in classroom discussions, debates and lectures despite their hearing loss. There are two main forms of RTC:
Steno Captioning - A trained stenographic court reporter types verbatim what is said in the classroom. Their steno machine is connected to a laptop computer which contains specialized software that converts the steno information into written English. The student views the laptop computer in order to have real-time access to the information in the classroom as it is occurring. The student then may receive either a printed or electronic copy of the class transcript for their review.
C-Print Captioning - A trained C-Print captioning types directly onto a laptop computer everything that is being said in the classroom. C-Print utilizes specialized software developed by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, that enables the captionist to condense some information into clear and concise sentences. The captionist uses abbreviations and brief forms that the software recognizes and the student reads from the laptop computer in order to have real-time access to the information in the classroom as it is occurring. The student then may receive either a printed or electronic copy of the class transcript for their review.
Not all students who are deaf or hard of hearing require testing accommodations. For those who do, there are several methods that can be used. The request for testing accommodations is based on your disability through the use of a documentation of disability form and any other supporting evidence of the need for testing accommodations. Psychological, medical or educational assessments can be used for this purpose.
Due to reading and language difficulties, some students who are deaf or hard of hearing may need more time to complete their tests. In the event that a student has a learning disability or a visual impairment, extended time is crucial for their test completion. Time extension may be time and a half, double-time, or even unlimited time. This is determined by you, your counselor and your instructor and is based on your specific academic needs.
Because some class periods would not allow for time extension, other arrangements are needed to ensure you are given adequate time to complete the test. This can be accomplished by designating a room in the disability office for student testing monitored by the counselor or using a campus-wide testing center, if one is available on campus. Some testing centers have separate testing rooms which are distraction-free. This is an excellent choice for a student who has an attention disorder. It is imperative that the instructor's specific instructions such as time allotment, and use of any supplements to the test, be clearly specified in writing for the testing monitor.
For some students who have difficulty with reading, the test can be interpreted from English into ASL. An interpreter can assist by first reading the test question and signing it in ASL. The student then replies in ASL. The interpreter will translate what is signed in ASL into English. For some tests this is an ideal solution when being tested for knowledge.
Discretion must be taken to ensure that you are not penalized for lack of reading skills when that is not the objective of the test. However, when the test is a test of English comprehension and expression, interpreted tests are not utilized, except for instructions, if needed.
Some students who are deaf or hard of hearing have additional disabilities such as an attention deficit disorder which can interfere with test taking. One key factor is to eliminate any possible distractions. In a typical classroom, distraction cannot be controlled as in a separate room. A distraction-reduced room can be designated anywhere on a campus where there is an opportunity for someone to monitor the test. A room in the disability services unit, testing center, instructor's office, etc. can be considered. In general, deaf people are sensitive to "visual noise" that goes on in a typical classroom environment. A student who is deaf or hard of hearing without a secondary attention disability, may find it much more comfortable to take a test in a private testing room. This is to be determined by you, your counselor, and the instructor if a request should be made for this accommodation.
Classroom accommodations ensure that students who are deaf or hard of hearing have equal access to the classroom experience. A visual learning experience is what is needed, which can be obtained in a variety of ways. Some of the more common ways are discussed in the next few categories.
The student who is deaf or hard of hearing determines the best seating arrangement depending on his/her individual needs. For the majority of students with hearing impairments, sitting in the front of the classroom allows the best opportunity for visual learning. If a student uses a sign language interpreter, then the front row seating would be ideal for allowing both the instructor and the interpreter to be in view.
A student who is hard of hearing may choose the front row seating as a means of being able to hear the instructor's voice and/or read the instructor's lips. Also, for taping the lecture with a tape recorder, sitting closer to the instructor is more effective. If a student uses an Assistive Listening Device, and does not lipread the instructor, there is more flexibility in seating as the ALD will enhance spoken speech regardless of distance.
Visual aids enhance learning for all students, especially for students who require a visual learning experience. Films, videos, slides, drawings, and use of the chalkboard are all visual aids. Handouts from the instructor reinforce the information that is discussed in class. Syllabi, study guides, course overview and outline for lectures and tests are all important elements of reinforces learning. Notes allow a student to replay the classroom experience as needed and to have it reinforced.
Many films that are used in a college setting are not captioned. This poses a problem for students who cannot understand the film without some visual means. Often instructors are unaware of the issues that arise for a deaf or hard of hearing student when a film is shown in class without preparation and they may be unaware of the captioned films as an alternative format.
Film substitutions can be made when a newer version of the film is made with captions. Films made since 1990 with the passage of the ADA, more likely, but not always are available with captions. Captions may be presented either in a closed or open captioned formats. Closed captioned means that in order to see the captions a decoder is needed to decode the captions. Open captioned means that the film has captions that are always there on the screen (similar to foreign subtitles).
When it is not possible to secure a captioned format, using an interpreter to interpret the film is a reasonable option, provided that the interpreter can be seen by the deaf or hard of hearing student. A small light, or leaving on an overhead light, light from a window or door are optional ways to ensure that you can see the interpreter.
Occasionally a class field trip is required. The classroom interpreter or a substitute interpreter usually can accompany you. However, it is helpful to plan and schedule interpreters in advance for an off-campus trip. If you do not use an interpreter for communication, it will be necessary let the instructor or speaker (if there is one) know what assistance is needed. Students using an Assistive Listening Device can use this system for a field trip. For some types of trips, using a notetaker may be appropriate.
The laboratory experience often occurs as part of classroom learning . This is often expected and very often a required class supplement. Depending on your needs and the type of lab work that needs to be carried out, the counselor can assist you with identifying the best accommodation. Some situations to consider are:
These are vital pieces of information that are needed when trying to determine when and where an interpreter is needed.
For students who require the assistance of an Assistive Listening Device,
this can be implemented the same way it is used in a classroom setting.
When a lecture accompanies the lab, or the lab is intensive with lots of
new information, a notetaker is a good option. Keep in mind that
is difficult for anyone to do more than one thing at the same time (e.g.,
laboratory assignments, focus on the interpreter, etc.) It is more
difficult for a student who is totally dependent on visual cues.
By eliminating the stress of trying to accomplish several things at once,
the deaf or hard of hearing student can focus on the assignments required.
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