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Supporting Effective Teaching Experiences with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

Tips for Teachers

Question:
As a part of the mainstreamed classroom here at RIT, could you give one or two tips to a new instructor that would help to support a successful learning environment?

Click on the images below to see video of the interpreter/captionist comments.

Barbara Fagenbaum
Real-time Captionist, NTID Department of Access Services
Photo of Barbara FagenbaumI'm Barbara Fagenbaum and I'm a real time captionist with the Department of Access Services. Our faculty members are extremely passionate and excited about their subject matter which is wonderful, but along with that excitement comes a rate of speech that sometimes escalates and gets faster and faster and faster. It's very challenging to keep up with a rate of speech that high, then I resort to condensing information or summarizing information, and the student may not get quite the flavor of what's being said. Times that are that professors tend to increase their speed is when they're listing information or steps to a process or vocabulary words that they're so familiar with, names of people, acronyms, all those times the rate seems to increase. So if the professors can just take a few seconds and write those things on the board maybe, or just pause for a second, that helps me catch up and I can provide higher level quality of captioning to the deaf or hard of hearing student, plus all the students are able to process the information more completely and take more accurate notes as well. The other area is wait time. Sometimes professors will asks questions in the class and our students need a second or two to read that question on their laptop and if the professor quickly accepts an answer from the class, our student doesn't really have a chance to fully participate. Or sometimes a professor will ask several questions quickly in a row and our student just can't quite fully participate in that so just having a little wait time after a question is asked really helps the deaf and hard of hearing students to be able to participate more fully.

Sarah Jacobs
Interpreter, College of Science & Engineering Interpreting Access Team
Photo of Sarah JacobsMy name is Sarah Jacobs and I'm an interpreter on the College of Science and Engineering Interpreting Access Team. I believe that you should not treat a deaf student any differently than you would a hearing student. I believe that you should have the same expectations and standards for the deaf students and hold them to it. They're at RIT for a reason, they're smart kids, treat them that way. If you're speaking one-on-one with a deaf student look at them, maintain eye contact. They might look at the interpreter but they're also going to be looking at you.

Dave McCloskey
Interpreter, Interpreting Access Team
Photo of Dave McCloskeyI'm Dave McCloskey, I work for the Department of Access Services, I'm one of the sign language interpreters on campus. So many people teach with power points these days and the instructor falls into the habit of saying this and this, they'll point at the screen. Well as an interpreter l often have my back to the screen, "this" could be anything. I tend to, interpreters tend to be a little bit behind, we have no idea what an instructor's going to say until they say it so by the time that we get to "this", they may have pointed at three different things. Um, so kind of be aware of that lag time and if possible any time something is either on the board or on a power point, refer to it directly. This formula, refer to the subject and that makes it a lot easier to make sure the people who are tuned to visual language understand what "this" is or "that" is.

Toni Van Aernum
Real-time Captionist, NTID Department of Access Services
Photo of Toni Van AernumMy name is Toni Van Aernum and I work in the Department of Access Services for real time captioning. It would be great for the professor to know that if he or she are writing on the board don't speak with your back to the class. Take a moment, wait, turn around and then speak so that your deaf and hard of hearing students can see your lips while your speaking. That's really important. The, it's really important to have all videos or media captioned in the classroom. That's huge. There should be equal access to communication to all of their students so that material needs to be captioned.