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Accessibility services available to hearing impaired

The universal sign for hearing impairment.

The universal sign for hearing impairment.

Rachel Crawford, Managing Editor

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The Center for Access and Academic Testing is a department that provides services to students with disabilities and testing opportunities for the Tarleton community as well as the general public.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, about 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

According to Karole Schroeder, Electronic and Information Resource Accessibility Coordinator, students and faculty voluntarily report if they have any hearing impairments or disabilities, usually to make accommodations.

“While the number of reported hearing disabilities among students is very low in comparison to other reported disabilities, I think it is under reported campus-wide given many of us either don’t know we can receive accommodations if we make reasonable requests, or we think we can tolerate our current conditions a while longer — a decision more likely faced by those who are not born with disabilities but acquire them as we grow older or through injury,” Schroeder said.

While students, faculty and staff are more likely to request accommodation, visitors can also ask for such services, such as Captioning Audio in Real Time, which is provided online for commencement ceremonies and other public events.

Schroeder also said with online videos, closed captioning is very important. YouTube’s auto-generating captioning is not always accurate, but most video sites offer ways to add or fix captions. Tarleton’s Center for Instructional Innovation offers assistance to faculty to make audio and video accessible to all students.

Transcripts are also another option for audio and video. According to Schroeder, transcripts offer many benefits over closed-captioning.

“Transcripts allow you to control the pace of your viewing if you can’t keep with up the timing of the video, whether it is too fast or too slow,” Schroeder said. “They allow you to copy/paste the text into your notes for further study without requiring you to type or write them out with strong memory recall skills.”

Students can also help other students or faculty with these impairments or disabilities. When doing a presentation, students can hand out brochures with the content in the presentation, which helps with memory aid for everyone.

When someone is talking, students should stop and listen and allow the person to finish and not create any distracting sounds. Schroeder said that certain impairments make it harder to distinguish sounds from one another.

“If these sounds like great advice for anyone, that’s because most accessibility best practices improve everyone’s experience, not just individuals with impairment or disabilities,” Schroeder said.

Students can also help others with impairments outside the classroom. Schroeder said that the main key is communication.

“Always show one another respect and understanding,” Schroeder said. “Debate is at its best when we provide the opportunity to understand one another without interruption.”

One other big key to helping anyone with any type of impairment or disability is patience, according to Schroeder. A couple weeks ago, she attended the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, where she came into contact with someone with a traumatic brain injury.

Schroeder said that the client had trouble finding certain words, so he did not speak other than a few words here and there. With his inability to speak, Schroeder said her and others had a “temporary inability to hear him.”

“It is absolutely important to let each other know you truly care enough to make that effort,” Schroeder said. “Smile. Be patient. We are in this together.”

Students can contact the Center for Access and Academic Testing at 254-968- 9423 and faculty and staff can contact Employee Services at 254-968-9128 for any accommodations.

“The best way for us to assist anyone is for them to tell us what works best for them,” Schroeder said. “Communication is key to providing the appropriate accommodations.”

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Accessibility services available to hearing impaired