Miriam Walsh, Sound Advice´s former journalist intern, met Emma Clarke, project officer of Trinity College Dublin´s Deaf Support at Third-Level (DS3) project to find out what education supports students can use in their tertiary education subjects.
Starting college is never easy. Sometimes none of your friends are at the same college and you may be far away from home. Being deaf or hard of hearing brings extra challenges and can make it harder to fit into college life, leaving students feeling isolated.
Buddying The Students
DS3 tackles this by offering a summer school for secondary school students. This takes place during the summer before college. Here, students can meet other deaf or hard of hearing students and build up a network of friends to turn to when starting college. Sometimes they may be lucky and find someone going to the same college or doing the same course.
DS3 can also arrange shadow days for 5th/6th year students for students to shadow someone in the career they wish to study. This benefits students as they can see first hand the challenges they would face, and find out if they would like the job or not.
Marketing DS3 Is Challenging
Once students get to college, DS3 is there to help. Students receive texts on a regular basis to make sure they are doing OK and in November there is a summer school reunion.
The main challenges DS3 has is reaching deaf students in mainstream schools. There is no simple way to do this beyond the CAO form, which is not always reliable. It is important for students and parents to know DS3 exists to smooth the transition into college. Each year more students had attended the summer school and it is hoped this will continue.
Advising Students On Available Supports
The DS3 website guides on supports available to third level students including note takers, subject specific tuition, academic support, reading support, electronic notetaking and ISL interpreters. As Emma notes the website is “for students by students”. The content is student friendly with blogs and captioned videos. In the blogs students talk about their supports, the challenges faced and some of the fun they have.
DS3 is also on YouTube, Facebook and Flickr. Through these sites students can get in contact with old friends and make new ones.