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Determining Appropriate Services for Students

When accommodating a Deaf, hard of hearing or DeafBlind student with a service or service provider, there are a number of factors to consider for ensuring full communication equity in the post-secondary learning environment.

Each student is an expert in their own lived experience with communication access. Understanding the student’s preferences, based on experience and proven effectiveness of the different access options is crucial. Students may also benefit from exploring factors and/or services they may not have previously experienced, and in developing confidence in advocating for their communication access needs is important. Accommodations are not equally effective for all students and require individualized considerations.

Examples of Communication Considerations
  • Deaf students who use American Sign Language may prefer Registered Sign Language Interpreters in many courses but may be more comfortable with a Typewell or CART transcriber in more technical STEM courses for example.

  • If a student has slower reading skills, or has an additional disability, reading captions through speech-to-text services such as CART or TypeWell may not be an effective option.

  • Hard of hearing students who do not use sign language might require CART or Typewell transcribing in one setting but prefer to use an assistive listening device to rely on their residual hearing when in another setting. If the hard of hearing student does know sign language, a sign language interpreter may also be an effective service for communication access.

  • DeafBlind students may use an intervenor, but depending on residual vision they may require tactile interpreting with a Registered Sign Language Interpreter or a transcriber instead.

Setting Considerations

It is important to assess the following conditions when determining the most effective services that will allow the student the equal opportunity to communicate in a manner that is equitable to peers who can hear.

  • The course format, method and style of delivery will greatly influence the service decisionA hard of hearing student may have success with using an assistive listening device (ALD) such as an FM/ DM System, along with preferential seating; however, factors such as the pace of the class, an instructor’s accent, or a significant amount of class discussion may pose difficulties with this access option.
  • Online content. This could create the need for a different or new means of communication access that would not normally be required in the classroom environment due to the visual aspects being changed or impeded in online learning environments. Differences between classroom and practicum environments may also dictate a change in service options.
  • Physical setting. For hard of hearing students, factors such as the size of the room, the lighting and acoustics could also affect service option decisions. If the student’s access is impacted by these factors, it is likely that relying on speechreading and/or their assistive listening device will be ineffective, and access through transcribing or interpreting services will be necessary. Field placements, lab settings, or other physical demands, such as with a student working on machinery, underneath a vehicle, or in an ambulance for example, may impact the usual form of communication access with an interpreter or transcriber. In such circumstances, adaptations or alternate forms of service will need to be considered to ensure equitable access.