Statistically, more deaf and hard-of-hearing students are enrolling in mainstream third-level institutions in the US (Raue & Lewis, 2011). The same is happening in Ireland, with more students in this diverse deaf population accessing higher education than ever before.
Tertiary education supports students who:
- have hearing aids and use their residual hearing
- have a cochlear implant (CI) and use auditory-verbal strategies
- have a CI and use sign language, plus auditory-verbal strategies
- use sign language only
Staff at tertiary institutions in the US need knowledge and skills to deliver accessible learning experiences in their classrooms (Lang, 2002). Under US federal guidelines, third-level staff must be trained to identify the best type of learning and/or communication supports for a particular student’s needs.
Tertiary learning/communication options include:
- digital captioning or note-taking services
- ad-verbatim live text-captioning (CART or C-Print)
- assistive listening devices (FM systems or soundfields)
- oral transliteration services (palantyping)
- sign language transliteration (video may be used)
- generic interpreting and transcription services
Access officers in the US must be familiar with accommodations for students who are deaf or hard of hearing (Cawthon, Nichols, & Collier, 2009). Their counterparts in Ireland are catching up, with greater awareness paying off.
Insights from the US, for student needs:
Students who are deaf or hard of hearing have specific communication and language needs that require different accommodations for success in education settings. Decisions about supports should be made on an individual basis (Marschark, 2001; U.S. Department of Education, 2005).
Deaf and hard of hearing students entering the workforce need basic skills for job training or other programs. Researchers found gaps in employment and life skills when reviewing transition strengths and needs of high school students in the US, who were deaf or hard of hearing (Luft & Huff, 2011).
In both the US and in Ireland, student access to tertiary education may be provided by inducted entities or public agencies such as secondary schools, vocational or community agencies and centres for independent living.
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