ASL Interpreter & Real-Time Transcribing Services

Working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Student and accommodations 

Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students communicate in different ways depending on several factors such as the amount of residual hearing, type of deafness, language skills, age deafness began, speech abilities, personality, environment, and educational background. The causes and degrees of loss vary as do the methods of communication and attitudes toward deafness.  

General information about working with students

  • In addition to the course accessibility letter, an email will be sent prior to the first day of the class identifying either the interpreter(s) or transcriber that you can expect to see in your class. It is the student’s responsibility to send you their accommodation letter.  
  • Common accommodations for include sign language interpreters or real-time transcribers, assistive listening devices, priority registration, note-takers and closed captioned videos. 
  • The inability to hear does not affect an individual’s native intelligence or the physical ability to produce sounds. Most DHH students who use interpreters or real-time transcribers will use note taking accommodations to receive maximum benefit from their classes. 
  • Some students' native language is American Sign Language (ASL); others do not sign at all. 
  • If the student is not present when class begins, the interpreter or real-time transcriber will wait 15 minutes. 
  • The interpreter or real-time transcriber is not responsible for the deaf student(s) in your class. The interpreter or real-time transcriber has no control over classroom attendance or behavior of the student. 
  • The interpreter or real-time transcriber is not an academic counselor. If you have a question or statement about the student and/or about his/her work, please direct that question/comment to the student and not to the interpreter or real-time transcriber. This allows the interpreter or real-time transcriber to remain in their respective professional role, and acknowledges the student’s responsibility for their work.
  • Please provide the interpreter or real-time transcriber with the syllabus and any handouts that you give to the students. This helps them follow along. The interpreter or real-time transcriber in your classroom does not necessarily specialize in the content area in which you teach and therefore may need to prepare for class just like your students do. You will see SAS coordinators and the interpreter(s) or real-time transcriber listed in Blackboard Learn. This allows them access to the course content to prep for class.

Working with ASL Interpreters 

The interpreter facilitates communication between deaf and hard of hearing students, faculty, and staff on campus through the use of sign language. Interpreters are a communication link between the deaf student(s), the instructor and the other students in the class.  

  • The interpreter is most often seated in front of the class, opposite the student. The interpreter will try to maintain a position that will allow the student to have a view of both the speaker/instructor and the interpreter at all times.   
  • Your normal rate of speech is acceptable and preferred.   
  • If you want to communicate with the student, maintain eye contact and address him/her directly. Avoid saying "tell him/her" to the interpreter. 
  • There will be a few seconds "lag time" between your spoken message and its interpretation into sign language. Therefore, if you ask a question or request a "show of hands," the student might have a slightly slower response than the majority of students in the class.  
  • The interpreter will interpret environmental noises and may, at times, interpret overheard conversations before class begins.  
  • ​If the classroom needs to be darkened, be aware that the student must be able to see the interpreter in order to access the information presented in an auditory format. Please adjust the lighting so that the interpreter can be seen by the student.  

Why 2 interpreters? Team Interpreting 

Many classes are assigned two interpreters. This helps prevent injury, mental fatigue and maintain accuracy. Research has shown that after 20-30 minutes the number of mistakes an interpreter makes begins to increase. Also, team interpreting provides support. When an interpreter is not physically interpreting s/he is still attending to the class to ensure information is not missed or misunderstood.   

Working with Speech-to-Text Service Providers (Real-Time Captioner or Transcriber): 

Real-time captioning/transcribing is a method of using specialized software to convert spoken language into visual text onto a laptop computer screen or tablet. Students read the transcript using a standard Web browser on a mobile device. Overall, successful real-time transcribing in the classroom depends upon the ability to hear, understand, and keep pace with the speaker. Access to the class syllabus, general vocabulary from required textbooks, and materials posted on your class website are important.  SAS employs two types of speech-to-text service providers: 

  • TypeWell (meaning-for-meaning) transcribers: The TypeWell transcriber has been trained to condense information in order to keep up with the pace of the lecture while retaining all essential points of the material. The transcript is meaning-for-meaning and not verbatim. It includes non-verbal, nuanced information to impact the reader’s comprehension.    
  • CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) Captioners: The trained captioner uses a stenographic machine and computer software to transcribe the spoken word into a written word-for-word text.  This service generally captures verbatim all that is communicated, including the “um’s” and “ah’s” of the speaker.  

Speech-to-Text Service Providers in the classroom 

  • The transcriber will set up equipment upon arriving to the classroom. If the student is absent, the transcriber occasionally might be rescheduled to a different class. In such cases, they will break down the equipment and exit the classroom as unobtrusively as possible.  
  • If you or the department does not have an extra copy of the text book(s), SAS will purchase the text book(s) for the class so the transcriber can enter vocabulary relevant to the class into a special "computer dictionary" ahead of time. Transcriber(s) and the DHH coordinator will be added to the Blackboard Learn site to prepare for class.   
  • Lecture material, class comments, questions, and social interactions among the student's peers are all captioned. 
  • The use of two linked computers (or tablet) allows the student to type questions and comments to the transcriber during class. The transcriber can then read ("voice") for the student, if that is the student's preference. If you find the student's speech difficult to understand, you are encouraged to request that the student type his/her questions and comments for voicing.  
  • The transcribing process involves a slight lag time. Therefore, please be aware, that if you ask questions the student using the service will require a few additional seconds in order to respond and/or participate in class discussions.  
  • Within 24 hours, the transcriber will edit out non-subject related and confidential material and will provide a copy of the transcript to the student. Students are not permitted to share the transcript with any other person and will not receive transcripts of classes they do not attend. 
  • Similar to sign language interpreters, CART captioners follow a Code of Ethics. TypeWell transcribers also follow this Code of Ethics.