Access Services for Incoming Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing Students
by Michel Corey | published Sep. 3rd, 2015
RIT is known for many things. A notable example is that we have one of the largest populations of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (HOH) students in the United States. There are two major universities in the United States that are known for their Deaf/HOH student population and schools for the Deaf; Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and of course, RIT. Part of holding the title as one of the greatest and largest schools for the Deaf is accommodating and including access services across campus. There are three main services that RIT provides; interpreters, note-takers, and real-time captioning (C-print).
Interpreting is for students and faculty who use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary form of communication. There are 103 interpreters that work both part-time and full-time on campus. Usually, each school of learning will have a core group that tend to stay within the same major subject.
Notetaking is for Deaf and HOH students, as well as other students with classified learning disabilities. If a student requests a note-taker, Access Services will first see if any hired note-takers are in the same class, if not, they will then open up the job for any note-taker with time in their schedule. They are expected not to be absent, to have good organizational skills, good listening and writing skills and must be timely and responsible. The note takers write very detailed notes and then post them on the myAccess website where it is available to all of the students requesting notes for that class.
C-Print is real time captioning. Students who request for this are usually not fluent enough in ASL to request an interpreter, and while note-taking may be good to review for after class, they don't want to miss out on the real discussion happening during class time. For each student that requests C-Print there is a captionist that will attend the classes necessary and type on a computer in front of the room that is connected to a wireless iPad or computer with a full screen of real time captions of the conversations held in class.
All services for students classified under the Disability Services Office can be accessed at myaccess.rit.edu.
The home section shows a general summary of Access Services, and also includes a New Information section, informing students about classes, enrollment periods and when they should being requesting services to make sure they are fulfilled.
Also available on myAccess is the "Service Request to Confirm" feature, which shows the requests made to accommodate students for upcoming events, "Quick Contacts," which provides a list of staff in charge of accessibility and "Quick Help," essentially a FAQ section which answers common questions.
myAccess offers quick course information through an easily navigated banner, including information on which courses offer certain access services, what services have been requested for certain classes, information on services and applications for being a note-taker. All in all making for an extremely easy to use site which assures no student falls between the cracks.
The access services we have available to Deaf/HOH students here is something that RIT takes a lot of pride in. We appreciate and enjoy the expanding community that surrounds the NTID and any schools for the Deaf, and strive greatly to make sure that no student --hearing, HOH, or Deaf-- is left behind. Any and every opportunity RIT offers here is equally available to each and every student, and access services are a huge part of the reason why.