Slipping through the cracks? The support needs of hard of hearing students in a university program
Although educational provisions for deaf students in higher education are not as well established as are services at other levels of education in Australia , recent years have seen increasing acceptance of the idea that access should be provided for deaf students at this level.1 Australian governments have sent a clear message to higher education institutions that they must make equity provisions for groups with special needs, such as deaf students. Griffith University in Brisbane was the first Australian university to establish a support program for deaf students. This program grew from a small one for only teacher education students in 1984 to the present program, which provides services to students across many faculties on four campuses of the university. For the past 10 years, approximately 40 students with varying degrees of hearing loss who use differing modes of communication have been registered with the Deaf Student Support Program each semester . While this number is small in comparison with programs in other more populous countries, the Griffith program is one of the largest in any Australian university. Services provided include academic counseling and tutoring, interpreting , a peer note taking network, a limited laptop note taking service, loan of FM systems (an Australian Government program provides free hearing aids to students up to the age of 21 years), and liaison and staff development activities with university staff (including personal counseling and vocational 1. We use the word deaf with a lower case “d” to include all people having some degree of hearing impairment. Deaf with an uppercase “D” is used to refer to those people who consider themselves members of the Deaf community and whose preferred method of communication is signing. The term “hard of hearing” is used to refer to those people who communicate using speech, audition, and speech reading. and career advice). In addition, the principle has been accepted that TTYs should be provided at points where hearing students access services by telephone and pay TTYs have been installed on campus. Services have been refined and developed over the time that the program has been in operation. The “by hand” note taking service has expanded from its original purpose of providing assistance to deaf students and has now become part of the wider University Disability Services, providing support to any students who are unable to write notes for themselves during lectures, laboratories, and tutorials. The note takers are trained peers who, whenever possible, are in the same class as the student receiving the service. A small scale program has also been developed using note taker typists with a typing speed of 70 words per minute or above who provide a transcript of a lecture or tutorial that the deaf student can watch on the computer screen and have printed out later.
Educating deaf children: Global perspectives