Take Control of Your Online Learning: Tips for Deaf College Students

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You probably didn’t sign up to take all of your college classes online. But COVID-19 has made colleges and universities around the United States switch to online learning for everyone — including deaf students like you.

Whether you have taken an online class before or are new to this, remember: accommodations don’t stop because you are now learning remotely. Here are some strategies for you to take control of your online learning and set yourself up for success.

Tip No. 1: Make an Access Plan

As soon as you can, connect with your Disability Services Coordinator (DSC) to discuss your accommodations for online classes. Let them know if there are any schedule changes or if you are in a different time zone from your college. Be open to trying new things. If you are struggling after a few classes, that’s not unusual. Accommodations that worked for you during face-to-face classes may not work online. Discuss with your DSC and instructor what options are available to access:

Tip No. 2: Make Space for Learning

Think about what you need to work and study well remotely. Find a comfortable space with proper lighting, seating, and which is free from disruptions from family members or roommates. Figure out what works best for you to adjust to online classes.

Tip No. 3: Stay In Touch With Your Instructor

Communication with your instructor is important. Take advantage of office hours and communicate with them about what is working (and what is not).

Tip No. 4: Confirm All Media Is Accessible

Online classes and all related materials — including videos, podcasts, and pre-recorded lectures — must have captions, interpreting, or other access options you require. Check with your instructors ahead of time to confirm these access options are in place, then check in regularly about new course content. If they need assistance with captioning any content or materials, refer them to the disability services office.

Tip No. 5: Know Who to Contact

If you have any problems accessing your online classes, who should you contact for assistance? Below are a few common scenarios and who might be able to help. If you are not sure who to contact, or if there are any other challenges with accessing your classes, always contact your DSC.

Tip No. 6: Advocate For Your Needs. Know Your Rights

If you are getting pushback about your access or accommodations, don’t give up! Advocate for what you know works best for you in your classes. Know your rights. You have the right to participate equally in online learning. This includes access to all course content and support needed in this new learning environment.

There are many different situations that may occur. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait – immediately contact your instructor and DSC. For example, suppose your instructor tells you a video is not captioned and not to worry because it is not required. Here’s what to do:

You also might need to ask for extra support. With everything online, the amount of reading and writing assignments you will be expected to do will dramatically increase. Ask for tutoring, extended deadlines, alternative assignments, or any other support services you might need. The power of asking can go a long way!

Tip No. 7: Remember To Take Care of YOU

The struggle is real with the transition to online classes. You are not alone!  Aside from following the recommended CDC tips (wash your hands, practice social distancing), here are some ideas for self-care. And remember: you can do this!