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Posted by Source: BestColleges.com on October 01, 2018
9 million people in the U.S. are either functionally deaf or hard of hearing. Of these, about 100,000 are aged 18-44. but how many attend college? The National Center for Educational Statistics reports somewhere around 20,000 deaf and hard of hearing students attend post-secondary educational institutions each year.
MOST COMMON CATEGORIES OF HEARING LOSS
Conductive hearing loss – This occurs when problems exist with the eardrum, ear canal, or middle ear and its bones.
Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) – Also called nerve-related hearing loss, this occurs when problems exist within the inner ear.
Mixed hearing loss – This is a combination of the other two types of hearing loss.
The severity of these types of hearing loss can seriously impact a student’s academic success. Reading and mathematics are especially challenging. Mild to moderate hearing loss can cause a student to fall behind by one to four grades. Education services are in place nationwide to prevent such academic setbacks. These efforts are paying off, with deaf and hard of hearing students attending college by the thousands.
Schools are also realizing the unique needs of each student and the broad spectrum of services required to meet these needs. For example, preferred accommodations differ depending on whether students identify themselves as hard of hearing or deaf. Students who identify themselves as hard of hearing may or may not communicate using American Sign Language (ASL.) Students who identify themselves as deaf consider themselves part of the group of people who share a common language (ASL) and culture. These students may request an interpreter, while those who are hard of hearing may prefer an assistive listening device. As academia becomes more aware of these differences, institutions increase their sensitivity to the needs of each individual. Students may need to educate staff on these differences, but should know they have the right to request the services that work best for their needs.
The level of effort put forth to make these accommodations varies by institution. Some provide the bare minimum to adhere to disability laws. Others incorporate new hearing technology, offer personal mentors, and work to better understand and meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students. Even with these efforts, students with hearing loss confront many challenges as they enter the world of higher education.
Transitioning to Higher Education
When deaf and hard of hearing students begin college, they face numerous changes and challenges. The first of these is greater responsibility. In high school, teachers or aids devoted to deaf services ensure students are properly accommodated. The school provides an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that teaches faculty and staff how to modify the learning environment to accommodate students with hearing loss. At the college level, students are responsible for requesting services and ensuring their needs are met. They must contact the department of disability services to establish their needs and arrange accommodations. It is also the student’s responsibility to communicate their needs to each instructor.
For new students, communicating these needs to professors can be intimidating. To make the process easier, it is helpful to email professors before the start of classes to explain specific needs. It is best to keep these explanations simple, explaining what accommodations are needed, how they work, and why they are an important part of the student’s experience in the classroom.
Students should request a meeting with the professor to go over any questions. Instructors who speak with a strong accent are a common challenge for students who are hard of hearing. This initial meeting will also allow students to discover if this is an issue. If it is, additional accommodations may be necessary, or the student may wish to choose a course taught by another professor.
PER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA), ALL PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES MUST ENSURE DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING STUDENTS HAVE EQUAL ACCESS TO ALL ACTIVITIES, REGARDLESS OF FUNDING.
In addition to classroom adaptations, students with hearing loss need accommodations if they are living in a dorm. They must speak with their resident director regarding emergency alert devices for deaf and hard of hearing students. A bed shaker or pillow vibrator can be wired to the building’s alert system to wake the student in case of fire or other emergency. The student can also use a bed shaker, lamp shaker, or vibrating alarm to assist with their wake schedule. They also need a system of notification when someone knocks on their door. A doorbell connected to a flashing light is a common solution. If the student has a roommate, it is important to discuss with the roommate all necessary accommodations and answer any questions. Thorough communication is essential to ensure both students have a healthy understanding of abilities and expectations from the start.
Clear communication with parents is also important. The student must realize the parental role changes when they enter this stage of education. Once they turn 18, they have reached legal adult status. This limits the access parents have to their academic records. In grade school, parents were automatically notified of academic progress and had open access to disability and academic records.
Now, as an adult, the student is protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The student must sign a release if they would like parents to have access to academic records. Confusion and conflict can occur if parents are unaware of this issue and attempt to access records. Students have the option of maintaining privacy from parents. Whatever students decide, they should make expectations of parental involvement clear to parents and the school records department.
Accommodating Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
HearingAidAdvances in technology and increased awareness have stimulated the creation of tools to assist deaf and hard of hearing college students. While the availability of specific technology varies by school or program, all institutions receiving federal funding are required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to be accessible to deaf and hard of hearing students. Per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all public colleges and universities must ensure deaf and hard of hearing students have equal access to all activities, regardless of funding.
Adherence to these laws may involve interpreters, captioning, assistive listening devices, and other procedural changes to accommodate the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing. The following are the most common devices used by deaf and hard of hearing students at colleges and universities.
ASSISTIVE LISTENING DEVICES (ALDS)
These amplifiers separate sounds from background noise by bringing sound directly to the student’s ear. They consist of a microphone, a transmitter and a receiver. The type of transmission and receiver vary by type of ALD. The three common ALDs are:
Inductive loop systems — These use an electromagnetic field to deliver sound. The instructor’s voice is transmitted from a microphone through an induction loop to a telecoil in the student’s hearing aid. The induction loop is typically installed in the ceiling or floor. For those without a telecoil-equipped hearing aid, loop systems can be used through a combination of headphones and a receiver.
FM systems — This type of ALD uses radio broadcast technology to transmit the instructor’s voice directly to the student. The instructor is equipped with a microphone, which picks up their voice and transmits it to a receiver that is connected to the student’s hearing aid, headphones or cochlear implant.
Infrared systems — Using infrared light, IR systems transmit sound to the student’s ears using a receiver and earphones. This light-based technology offers the advantage of privacy, since the “sound” cannot travel where the light does not.
COMMUNICATION ACCESS REALTIME TRANSLATION (CART)
CART is used to convert speech to text. This system is also referred to as captioning. It is accomplished through the use of a stenotype machine, computer, or other software to capture the spoken words which are then displayed on a screen as text.
Students can use CART services on individual laptops or smartphones. It can also be displayed on large monitors or through a projector for use by an entire class. It applies the same technology used by the entertainment industry to provide real-time captioning. The service involves either a live stenographer on site or a remote feed to the stenographer. Remote CART requires an audio source for the speaker, such as internet phone service. Speech is captured and transmitted as text for the student. The student does not need any specialized software, as the service simply provides an email link to view the streaming text.
This option is more comprehensive than note takers or interpreters, providing 98.5% accuracy and translation. In addition to live captioning during class, CART services can provide students with an electronic file of the transcript after class.
The service is fee-based, and not every school is willing to pay the additional cost, which ranges from $60/hour to $200/hour. However, if other appropriate accommodations are not made, students can request this service as part of their ADA and Section 504 rights.
Technology is a powerful tool that can be used to enhance higher education for the deaf and hard of hearing. Classrooms and institutions currently use a variety of hardware and software to assist students with hearing loss. Other support services are available to students online.
E-textbooks are becoming more and more prevalent in college settings. More than half of U.S. higher education students have used this format for at least one class. Accessible on computers and other electronic devices, the additional features available in this book format may be advantageous for deaf and hard of hearing students. Interactive features such as polls, quizzes, note sharing and instructor annotations facilitate collaboration and interaction with the text, other students, and the professor.
Students with mild to moderate hearing loss often find it helpful to use digital recorders. These capture lectures as sound files which can be stored in a device and replayed at the student’s leisure. This can be especially useful in large seminars or locations not equipped with other assistive listening devices.
Most campuses now include an Assistive Technology Center that houses valuable resources for deaf and hard of hearing students. This center typically features support services and devices to assist students with disabilities to better access their academics and extra curriculars. Before choosing a school, deaf and hard of hearing students should inquire about the extent and availability of services at the institution’s ATC.
Whether through the school’s ATC or their own devices, deaf and hard of hearing students can use several online resources and software applications. AbleData is a resource center to connect the deaf and hard of hearing with the assistive products and solutions they need. iCommunicator enables independent communication by translating speech to text and speech to video sign-language in real-time. HearMore is a site that offers products for independent living, whether on or off campus. The latest innovation is MotionSavvy, a two-way communicator that uses gesture and speech technology to translate sign to voice and voice to text.
Colleges around the country are taking steps to build inclusive learning environments for all students, regardless of individual differences. The following list highlights programs offered that provide deaf and hard of hearing students a full and rewarding college experience. When researching prospective schools, we advise students to speak with the disability services office for a better understanding of available accommodations.
GU is the only higher education institute designed to cater specifically to the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students and has championed for deaf rights across the world for over 150 years. The university offers the world’s only BA, MA, and PhD program in interpretation within an ASL-immersive setting. The school is the largest-ever publisher of books aimed towards the deaf community, and notably, is the site of the 1988 Deaf President Now movement, a historic student protest that kick-started the Americans with Disabilities Act into fruition. The university offers a network of internship and service projects for its students, leads in DeafSpace architectural design, and hosts around $4.7 million in funded student and faculty research each year.
HC is another institution that has led the way in providing higher education and career training for the deaf and hard of hearing. The school’s Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf (SWCID) is a barrier-free campus that has adapted ASL as the primary form of communication. All of SWCID’s classes are delivered in sign language and are aimed specifically towards the interests of deaf students. Students are encouraged to join athletic programs, student organizations, internships, and residential activities that accommodate their needs. Students also have access to interpreting services provided for phone calls, extracurricular activities, and all other school-related needs.
ROCHESTER INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
RIT is a model school for providing educational access to deaf and hard of hearing students. It is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. About 1,300 of the 14,000 students enrolled are deaf or hard of hearing. The school offers sign language interpreting services, note-taking, captioning, FM systems and tutoring. Personal advisers provide career counseling and job search services. The school also works with employers to facilitate hiring of deaf and hard of hearing graduates.
THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE
UW-Milwaukee has nearly 1,000 students on campus who use ASL, and approximately 50 of the 24,000 students enrolled are deaf. The school offers a strong Accessibility Resource Center for deaf and hard of hearing students. Each student meets with an ARC counselor and develops a personal VISA (Verified Individual Services and Accommodations). The student is provided with copies/email of this VISA to share with each instructor at the start of every course. The VISA is updated each year as needed.
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE
CSU houses the National Center on Deafness and has a deaf student population of more than 200. The school’s Disability Resources and Educational Services has developed a Journey to Success program that offers an individualized learning plan to assist each deaf or hard of hearing student from college entry to life after graduation. This initiative includes three phases. First year students begin in Transition Year and receive assistance with transitioning to college life, communicating with instructors, and accessing services. The next step is Foundation Years, during which mentorship continues with increased independence and involvement in co-curricular activities. Finally, students enter the University and Beyond stage and learn job advocacy skills and how to plan for life after college.
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