Working with Students who are Deaf or Hard-of-hearing
If you have a deaf or hard of hearing student enrolled in your course, DSS may schedule a Sign Language Interpreter or Communication Access Real-Time (CART) reporter to work in your class. The function of these rigorously trained professionals is to facilitate communication in your classroom. A student may elect to use only one, two, or all of the following accommodations.
Working with a Sign Language Interpreter:
Interpreters interpret everything that they hear or see; spoken or signed. If a hearing student can hear it, equal access means the deaf student does too. Do not say something and tell the interpreter NOT to sign it. Often it is already too late.
- When using an interpreter, speak directly to the students and not to the interpreter. Refrain from saying, "tell her…”, “can you let him know…”, as this is confusing and interferes with direct communication. Maintain eye contact with your student. It is not only your eyes, but your facial expression and body language that establishes context for the student.
- Recognize that there is a processing time period required for the interpreter to interpret between two different languages (whether from spoken English to American Sign Language or vice versa). Each language has its own unique modalities. As such, the interpreter will usually continue signing after you have stopped speaking. The interpreter can be anywhere from 3-7 sentences behind the speaker. When you ask a question or take class comments, allow additional time so your message will be interpreted effectively and the student can participate.
- When possible, provide interpreters as much material as is possible. The interpreter/s may provide you a WIN to be added to your eLearning class roster to help prepare for any difficult vocabulary or course-specific terminology to sign. Alternately, we have a vehicle for contractors to be added as a Learning Assistant as a guest. This knowledge and context create the most effective communication. This material can include: background on your topic, power point slides, copies of materials being used, copies of speeches/songs/poetry, uncommon language or jargon, etc.
- If there are too many people talking at once, the interpreter cannot interpret them all. The most effective class discussion is a moderated situation.
- If your class is over one hour in length or particularly challenging, you will have a team of interpreters who will alternate approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. This helps avoid mental fatigue and miscues in translation. Both interpreters are constantly active in the team process, rotating between primary and support roles. The primary role is directed to the students and includes tasks such as signing and voicing. The support role is necessary to enhance the overall interpretation and includes regulating the overall setting, assuring appropriate, timely transitions, and monitoring the primary interpreter.
- Lighting is essential for communication access. Instead of turning off lights for a video or film, try dimming the lights instead, or have a spotlight on the interpreter if possible. Back lighting (like a window) can cause poor visibility.
- The student may request to get notes from someone else in class. ASL is a visual language. Taking notes requires the individual to look away from the lecture and therefore miss valuable information while you are still speaking. The student may ask for your help to facilitate this.
- If you have any questions regarding the interpreting process or how to work more effectively with the interpreter, please ask your student. They are experts in this process. You can also speak to the interpreter or contact the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Accommodation Specialist in the DSS office before classes begins.
Working with a Communication Access Real-Time (CART) provider:
CART captioners are trained court reporters who use a steno machine, laptop computer, and software to record everything you say verbatim and in real-time. As you speak, the captioner types the text of your lecture which is then displayed on a computer monitor for the student to read. At the conclusion of each class, the captioner will provide a copy of the lecture text to the student. This copy is for the student only and is not shared with other class members. CART captioners may be attending your class in person or remotely. When the captioner is logged in remotely, you will need to wear a microphone or other device.
- The reporter may need to meet with you or get printed materials from you to assure that all the technical terminology is entered into the computer's dictionary. This will help the reporter maintain a higher translation rate and accuracy. Your reporter is not functioning in the same role as they would in a courtroom. Please do not ask the reporter to "read back" portions of your lecture.
- Speak to the student, not the reporter, to facilitate direct communication.
- When possible, provide CART reporters as much material as is possible. The reporter/s may provide you a WIN to be added to your eLearning class roster to help prepare for any difficult vocabulary or course-specific terminology to sign. Alternately, we have a vehicle for contractors to be added as a Learning Assistant as a guest. This knowledge and context create the most effective communication. This material can include: background on your topic, PowerPoint slides, copies of materials being used, copies of speeches/songs/poetry, uncommon language or jargon, etc.
Assistive Listening Device
Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) are for students who are Hard of Hearing. ALDs are personal devices that transmit, process or amplify sound. ALD can be used with or without personal hearing aids. All level two and three classrooms at WMU that seat 50 or more students are equipped with an infrared system that works with ALDs. If the room is set up with ALDs, there will be signage on the classroom entrance. Classroom technology information
For the ALD system to work for students, instructors must wear the classroom microphone. If instructors are having issues with the microphones, they can use the HELP button on the classroom’s technology cart to get assistance. If a student requests an ALD from the instructor, the instructor needs to direct the student to contact DSS to set up the service and to get the ALD receiver.
Hearing aid technology has, and is continuing to, advance rapidly. Many students may have advanced hearing aids that will allow them to control the setting on their own phone and Bluetooth to their hearing aids. There are also microphones to specific communicate with their hearing aids. In this situation, the student will give you the microphone and can be your best assistance. Again, refer them to the DSS office should things not be working properly.
For more context on the importance of using a microphone see Jessie B. Ramey's note to their fellow faculty from the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Under ADA law, videos or films must be captioned. Captioning must be turned on when you are showing the videos to your students. This includes a video clip that you have personally made. You should always inform the CART reporters or ASL interpreter/s of videos ahead of time. Students using ASL may choose to have the videos interpreted by the interpreter/s along with the CC or to just watch the CC alone. Students individually choose what best fits their language needs.
When instructors are designing full online courses or online components to traditional courses, they need to make sure all elements of the course are accessible. Accessible elements include, but are not limited to spoken lectures and classroom discussions, videos, YouTube clips, and any other audible part of the class. All must be captioned, interpreted or provided in transcript forms. WMUx can help instructors when building and updating course materials into a compliant format that provides equitable access for all users.