Expanding Access in Higher Education
On most campuses, accommodation services for Deaf students are centered around securing and managing communication access in the classroom. It is equally important for administrators to consider informal learning experiences and social interactions that students need to build a sense of community on campus.
Research shows that social engagement is a key factor in improving student retention. Valuable information and experiences are shared in and out of the classroom and Deaf students deserve the opportunity to capitalize on everything campus has to offer. A complete immersion in the campus experience includes opportunities for Deaf students to socialize, network, and connect at all events.
Tips for school administrators to ensure that Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are included in social engagements:
- Educate hearing students and faculty about Deaf culture and inclusion.
- Include accessibility request information on all event and activity flyers, advertisements, and invitations.
- Have standard policies and protocols for securing and managing accommodation requests.
- Provide communication access services as a standard protocol for campus-wide events and activities.
- Plan Deaf and hard-of-hearing events to help foster a sense of community on campus.
Deaf culture tips for school faculty and staff:
- When communicating with a Deaf student, look directly at them and address the student. Avoid watching or addressing the interpreter or captioner.
- Defer to the student about academic-related questions or when inquiring about their progress in their courses.
- Remember, interpreters and captioners are present to provide communication access. It is never appropriate for them to answer questions on behalf of a student, only to relay the student’s answer.
- Check in with students regularly to ensure the accommodations set-up is effective in your classroom. As coursework changes throughout the semester, changes may need to be made to accommodation plans as well.