Well, under normal circumstances and in most cases, online education can’t help deaf students much. But these days there are many online education programs that are specialized for deaf students, and they are actually really helpful for them. During normal times, students with hearing loss problems would use hearing aids, and try their best to adapt to the environment of classrooms in order to receive an education. But that’s not possible after the worldwide pandemic caused by the Covid-19.
Most of the classes over the world have resorted to online learning during the pandemic, where the teachers and students join a virtual meeting through Zoom or Google Meet and continue with their lessons, or the teachers just make video materials on the lessons and provide the students. But in both cases, it is very difficult for deaf students to follow through with the lessons, as they need some special treatment so that they can properly hear and understand what is being said and taught by the teacher.
Most students and teachers face a lot of problems anyway during online classes due to technological lackings, but they can try and overcome that with time. But in the case of deaf students, they will need proper assistance in doing that. During conventional classroom education, they used various devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc. so that they can hear better in the classroom, and can communicate with teachers and other students conveniently. Even with those, they need some sort of assistance from others to adapt to the environment. But during online classes, it is not possible to do so.
Before the pandemic, there were still various online learning systems available in the form of different online courses that feature video materials and other things so that you can learn easily from home. Those online courses aren’t very deaf student friendly either, as deaf students need some special things added to the materials, especially video captions or subtitles. Without subtitles, it becomes really hard for them to understand what the narrator is saying, even with hearing aids, as hearing aids don’t help with everything.
And same goes for the online classes too. While they will still need to keep their hearing aids o, they will need other assistance too from the teachers and other fellow students. They can also get other technological help by getting some advanced devices, such as Bluetooth hearing aids, roger touchscreen mic, roger multimedia hub, etc. All these will help to make online learning more beneficial and fruitful for deaf students, and they will be able to receive an education more conveniently and comfortably.
There are various online deaf learning programs out there that are specifically designed for deaf students. Their video materials are made in the way deaf students can receive them way more conveniently than generic video materials and the classes are taken in the same manner. Here is a list of things that will help make online learning properly useful to deaf students-
Teachers and Others Need to Be More Understanding
The teachers and fellow students need to be more understanding of the special needs of a deaf student. The teacher should keep things slow so that the deaf students can get them without very high effort. Also, it can be problematic and exhausting for deaf students to go through large volumes of descriptive texts or PowerPoint slides while trying to listen to the teacher. If the slides and lessons are kept as simple as possible, and a clear lesson outline in plain language is provided with glossaries, and one lesson at a time is provided, it can help the deaf students to engage better.
Keeping Things Simple in Video Materials
Keeping slides simple is important in video materials or presentations. Crowding these with text can make them inconvenient, so it is important to find a satisfactory rhythm and leave sufficient time for students to watch, listen, read, and understand. Also, making sure to categorize the lessons into sections can be helpful too. This way the students will know what to read immediately and what can be kept away for later. And make sure to send them any pre-requisite or supporting information with the materials, or even before live online classes so that they can be prepared.
Automated and Live Captions
During live online classes, automated captions can be very useful for deaf students, and these captions can be generated via platforms like Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts, even though the captions aren’t always accurate. But they will still be able to get it better. Also, real-time captions can be typed in by using WebEx while taking online classes, as WebEx has a second panel where the text of the live captioner appears. The live captioning helps to see the shared presentations easily, along with the faces of the speakers, and captions all at once. Captions are a must in video materials too.
The use of sign language can help deaf students a lot in enhancing their communication. The teacher and others can keep their cameras on, and keep the camera at a proper distance and angle. So that the deaf students can try to lipread, and understand them better.
Using technology such as Bluetooth hearing aids can help deaf students get more connected with their devices, and listen to the classes directly and better. Using Roger Touchscreen Mic can also help, as it can be paired with hearing aids, so deaf students will be able to communicate better. The same goes for Roger Multimedia Hub. Teachers and other students should use high-quality headsets so that their voices can be heard clearly.
Online learning programs for deaf students can be very useful, and they can go toe to toe with general students if they mention things that are taken care of. These things will help the deaf students a lot to better understand their lessons, and participate actively in the education process.