Deaf Education Programs Online: Special Education for Deaf People
With the pandemic that’s going on, everything in our life has been affected deeply, including the education sector. Students are facing huge challenges in continuing their education, no matter at what stage they are. Education has massively resorted to online, as teachers are using google meet or similar applications to get face-to-face with students online and teach them their courses.
However, online education is not everyone’s cup of tea, as there are many students and teachers who are not well equipped or trained to continue these online classes. However, while someone can ultimately learn to do so, there are some students such as hearing impaired students, who might find it really tough to continue the conventional online learning that’s designed in a generic manner, and without thinking about the students with special needs.
As deafness comes in many various levels to children and teens of different ages and is supported in many different ways, a generalized package of ‘deaf support’ shouldn’t be used. Instead, a learner-centered approach should be taken that makes the most of a student’s strength. Deaf learners mainly use lip reading, a mix of hearing technology, BSL, and text support, which means there isn’t a set package of things that will make online learning easily accessible to deaf students.
Things The Teachers and Peers Need To Know and Understand
It is a great practice to add captions and BSL overlays to videos, and it should be encouraged. But these shouldn’t be thought of as the only way of making online learning accessible to deaf students. Keeping a transcript of group learning sessions can be a useful resource too, and essential, but these don’t work well in case of real-time participation during class or sessions.
Here are many questions that need to be answered. If the deaf learners have adequate devices and internet access, and appropriate place to study, or not. Can you teach the whole thing to them simply by boiling things down to an easily accessible format, such as a word document or a short video clip with subtitles? If the deaf learners are taking the help of assistive listening devices such as hearing aids? And if they are using them, do they know how to handle these devices properly, and are their parents available to help in any case?
If you expect deaf learners to process a lot more text quickly than their peers, it will put them at a disadvantage. It can be really exhausting, and dealing with subtitles on PowerPoint slides isn’t an easy task. It will help the learners to engage if simple slides with one topic are provided at a time, and a clear lesson outline in plain language with glossaries can help them to engage better. This approach will be extremely beneficial and valuable for deaf students, and other students with additional needs.
Providing Inclusive Teaching and Convenient Learning Elements
While you might think that most deaf students want a clear verbatim version of everything that’s been said in the class, that's not the case as this leaves them with lots of reading. Most of them prefer a summarized note of the class, and copies of slides and lecture outline in advance. Some teachers might overlook students with mild hearing loss, but they need support too, and students using hearing aids require high-quality literacy instruction, as their other opportunities for vocabulary expansion, incidental learning, and spoken language are limited.
There are few things that can be maintained for their convenience during online classes via video call, which are-
- Keeping the speaker’s face visible, and having a light on their face rather than behind the head. Also, speaking at a steady pace, and taking pauses between important points helps.
- Ensuring good quality audio by using a headset with a microphone
- Finding out if the student possesses assistive tech that can enhance the sound quality received by hearing aids or cochlear implants. Asking if they (or their parents/carers) are confident using it with a computer, and if not, how are they going to access technical support?
- Using auto-subtitling checks so that they’re accurate enough for the learner who relies on them. Also, a palantypist, remote captioner, or notetaker can be used instead, as these learning platforms allow for space into which the notes can appear.
- If an interpreter is required, making sure the learner knows how to ‘pin’ them for easy and quick access. Zoom is emerging as being popular with BSL users, as they can use gallery view to see everyone at once.
- Circulating corrected transcripts to all learners shortly after the class has ended.
And if the information are shared through online presentations-
- Processing written language may take some learners longer than others. So, it’s important to find a good pace and leave enough time for students to read, watch, listen, and understand.
- Keeping presentation slides as simple as possible, not crowding them with text, and using good accessibility practices for all the content.
- Prioritizing readings into manageable lists, such as must-read, read if you have time, etc
- Sending any supporting or pre-requisite information out in advance of the presentation
Supporting and Understanding
As online learning is new for the most, and it demands new things from learners, they will need support with language and executive functioning, which are cognitive skills that develop with time. Goal setting, prioritizing and focusing, applying problem-solving strategies are included in these cognitive skills. The students with hearing impairments can be supported to engage better throughout the process in ways such as-
- Checking in regularly with parents and the student, and not assuming understanding as the learner might not know what they missed.
- Making time for regular feedback and catch-ups.
- Including glossaries for new vocabulary
If these things can be maintained and implicated throughout the whole process of online education, deaf students can be massively benefitted all around the world. Their studies won’t get hampered due to the hearing loss problems they suffer from, if people around them become a bit more supportive.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does hearing loss affect learning?
Ans: Learning and hearing are intertwined. Untreated hearing loss causes delays in speech and language development, which leads to learning difficulties and, in turn, poor school performance.
2. What challenges do deaf students face?
Ans: When it comes to number ideas, vocabulary, and problem-solving skills, deaf students often fall behind their hearing peers. Students continually absorb new information and knowledge through the noises, discussions, and language spoken around them regularly.