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Education - Classroom Accessibility

No Reason to Be Left Out

By

Updated April 11, 2009

These days, there is no reason for any deaf/hoh student to miss out on what happens in the hearing classroom. Both older and newer techniques and technological solutions are abundant.

Interpreting

The most common method of classroom accessibility is an interpreter. Interpreters can provide a means of accessibility for signing, oral, and cueing deaf and hard of hearing people. There are also interpreters who specialize in deafblind interpreting. Finding a qualified interpreter for the classroom may not be easy, but it can be done. Demand for educational interpreters is high, yet pay and other issues persist: Plus, more interpreting agencies are offering on-demand video remote interpreting. This method requires the use of videoconferencing equipment. It apparently works best for small groups.

Notetaking

When I was in college in the '80s, notetaking meant using carbon paper. How primitive that seems today now that we have laptops. Back then, any "good" student could be a notetaker. Today, prospective notetakers receive specialized training. For example, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf's Northeast Technical Assistance Center provides online training on Notetaking for Students with Hearing Loss.

Assistive Listening Systems

For students with enough hearing via hearing aids or cochlear implants, assistive listening systems may help, such as audio loops and FM systems.

Voice to Print technology

For those who do not do well with interpreters, a viable alternative exists: voice to print technologies (or speech to text), or as some prefer, realtime captioning. The options available include:
  • CART
  • C-Print at NTID - This technology involves using a C-Print captionist who generates text based on what is spoken. The difference between C-Print and realtime captioning is that C-Print is not verbatim.
  • Typewell - This is a system that operates on the same principles as C-Print.
  • Viable Technologies - Viable Technologies offers a remote Viable Realtime Transcription, a service whereas transcribers listen to the classroom speech and produce text that can be read by the deaf/hoh student.

Captioned Educational Media

At one time, the Captioned Media Program was the only reliable source of captioned educational materials. Now, with the legal requirements to caption on television and DVDs, much more captioned material is available to classroom instructors:
  • Captioned Media Program - for selected captioned educational material
  • Captioned and subtitled DVDs - widely available
  • Captioned television and web programming
  • Captioned educational software
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