a. Getting to know the student and their learning needs
We recommend that DSOs have a few meet-up sessions with the student before the term begins to understand their profile, learning needs and concerns.
At the same time, these discussions aim to empower the student to make an informed decision that best suits their learning style and the nature of the class. Do check in with the student if they’d like a sign language or speech-to-text interpreter to facilitate effective, clear communication during these meetings.
We suggest that lecturers and tutors teaching the student for that term join in at least one of them, so they too can understand the student’s learning profile and the potential access options.
If lecturers and tutors can’t join in, DSOs should inform all staff involved that there’ll be a Deaf/HoH student in their class. This guideline can also be shared with the staff.
If the student has never used access services till this point, you can bring in a service provider to explain them. We can support in this role too, whether or not we’re the allocated service provider.
Possible points to discuss at these sessions:
- Available access options, including assistive devices and access services
- Student’s communication preferences, and whether they have a preference for certain access services
- Nature of the classes for the coming term, and which access service could fit them best.
- Alternative assessment components, if needed, that won’t comprise the academic rigour. See the table below for an example of possible alternatives for a graded presentation, done by a student who is a sign language user.
||How it can work
||Student signs when presenting, and a sign language interpreter is engaged to do sign-to-voice interpreting
||Can assess the student on public speaking skills like confidence, body language, and audience engagement.
||Depends on the student’s comfort level working with the specific interpreter.
Need to rehearse with the interpreter beforehand.
Presentation duration may have to extend, to factor in the need for the student and interpreter to process between the two languages, especially during Q&A.
|Video presentation done up pre-class
||Student videos themself presenting in sign language and edits in captions.
||Student can express themselves with their own exact choice of words, as they take on the translation work
||Deaf/HoH student has to do additional work of translating and editing, compared to other classmates.
Unable to grade student on live public speaking components.
Might only work better in classes where content is a key assessment component, with less emphasis on presentation skills.
||Student can type on a document that is projected onto a screen for all to read.
||Student can express themselves real-time and can be assessed on both their real-time response, and interactivity of their presentation.
||Student has to be able to type at an adequate speed.
Access arrangements are still needed for when questions or comments need to be conveyed to the student.
Audience has to be comfortable accessing the presentation by reading.
||Use a text-to-speech software to voice out a ready script or the student’s real time typing
||Suitable when audience is more comfortable with accessing the presentation through aural form.
||Same as live typing.
Audience might not be used to listening to a TTS synthesized voice. Some words and notations might not be pronounced accurately in context.
Recommended to project the text on screen so avoid misinformation from machine rendered pronunciation.
|Spread out weightage of oral presentation component to other assessment components
||Suitable for cases where content is a key assessment component, with minimal focus on presentation skills.
b. Preparations to ensure your class is set up to work with an access service
Engage the access workers early on
Giving the interpreters access to materials early on, and helping them settle administrative matters to work in your class, will allow them to focus on effective, accurate facilitation of communication.
Here’s a list of what you could do when you link up with them:
- Share class materials, like slides, handouts, or media links. If there’s more than one interpreter during the term, do so with the service coordinator instead. The student can also share these with their interpreter(s).
- Alternatively, create a guest account for interpreters on the student portal, and add in the modules which have access services. This way, you don’t have to keep sending over materials.
- Give speech-to-text interpreters access to a guest WiFi account, as they need the internet to create their live Google Documents transcript, which the Deaf/HoH student will be accessing.
Ensure your class materials are helpful to the access process
- Include slide numbers all on lesson slides. It’s more efficient for speech-to-text interpreters to type the number and transcribe your elaboration on it, rather than typing out the slide heading. It’s also easier for the Deaf/HoH student to cross-reference between the transcript and slides after class.
- Please caption all media or audio lesson materials. Check in with your DSO for more related resources. Captioning can be done internally (e.g. by yourself or student volunteers) via platforms like amara.org, or externally (e.g. engage external captioning services). A captioned video ensures that the Deaf/HoH student doesn’t have to toggle their focus between the live notes or sign language interpreter, and what’s on the screen. Plus, it’ll benefit hearing students too.
- Incorporate keywords, summaries, outlines, or instructions for activities and assignments in your slides. This brings attention to key information for the entire class, both Deaf/HoH and hearing.
c. Educating hearing classmates
Discuss with the Deaf/HoH student how they’d like to inform classmates about their communication needs. Some options include:
- Lecturer or the Deaf/HoH student themself sends out an email to the class to explain:
- Their disability and communication preference
- Things to note when communicating with them
- Things to note during group discussions or interactive classwork
- That there’ll be an access worker in class (sign language and/or speech-to-text interpreter), and what this additional person will be doing.
- Student does a self-introduction on the first day of class, explaining the above.
- Student chooses to be discreet and only informs their group mates, or prefers to let classmates understand slowly through interaction. While self-advocacy is encouraged, the Deaf/HoH student’s preference must also be respected.