Accommodations are provided by a school, employer, or other institution to ensure deaf people are able to fully access all the experiences and activities offered. There are many different types of accommodations, ranging from interpreters to extra time for testing.
In order to ensure equitable opportunities and effective communication for all students, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act mandate that reasonable accommodations be provided when requested.
This guide will help professionals understand the variety of accommodations available, how to choose the best accommodation for each student, and more.
Though not an exhaustive list, these are some commonly used accommodations. They can be a starting point for a discussion with a deaf student about the right accommodations for them.
Interpreters facilitate communication between a deaf and hearing person. This can be done in a number of modalities identified by the deaf person including:
- ASL interpretation
- Tactile interpretation
- Oral transliteration
- Cued Speech Transliteration
Speech-to-text services (STTS) is an umbrella term used to describe an accommodation where spoken communication, as well as other auditory information, is translated into text in real-time. A service provider types what is heard, and the text appears on a screen for the consumer to read. There are three main types of STTS:
- Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)
Assistive Listening Systems
Assistive listening systems are designed to enhance the understanding of speech for deaf people who want to access information through their residual hearing and/or personal device (e.g., hearing aid or cochlear implant). There are different types of assistive listening systems that have their pros and cons and can support communication in a wide variety of settings.
There are three main systems used:
- Frequency Modulation (FM)/Digital Modulation (DM)
- Induction loops.
Note taking is an accommodation that captures important pieces of information in a systematic way. While most commonly used in the classroom, it can be used in any situation requiring learning, including job sites and internships. Deaf students benefit from receiving notes from a trained note taker as they already split their attention between other simultaneous accommodations (e.g. speech-to-text services, interpreting and captioned media), the instructor, group discussions and/or other information presented.
Visit the Captioned Media Services topic page and Captioned Media Services FAQs for more information.
Test accommodations should allow deaf students to demonstrate content knowledge by reducing barriers due to testing design, wording and format. While accommodations are individualized, some commonly used accommodations include:
- Assistive listening devices
- Captioned media
- Extended time
- Glossaries or dictionaries
- Individual administration
- Frequent breaks
- Sign language interpreters
- Scribes to record signed or dictated responses
Deaf students enrolling in colleges across the country are on the rise and securing access services can be difficult for institutions. Remote interpreting and speech-to-text services are viable options for institutions experiencing shortages of qualified providers, specific interpreting or captioning needs for a course, or last-minute requests for urgent situations. Remote services can be a beneficial supplement or a mainstay way of providing access for students in a variety of situations. Institutions must have the knowledge necessary to evaluate requests, resources to arrange services, and the infrastructure to maintain quality and effective services.