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Information for DHH Staff: Student Access During COVID-19 Transcript

[Title slide appears, “The Least You Need to Know During COVID-19 for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students: Returning to In-Person or Hybrid Schooling. DHH Staff Video.”]

[Split screen. In the left screen is a woman voicing. In the right screen is a working Certified Deaf interpreter (CDI). There is captioning on the bottom of the screen. The woman on the left begins to talk.]

Emily (teacher)>> All students are facing new challenges and opportunities during this time of COVID-19, quarantines and transitions back to in-person classes. These challenges are changing as we navigate going back to schools. This webinar has been developed to help provide guidance to schools about accessibility for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. You may be a teacher for students who are deaf and hard of hearing, ASL interpreter, transliterator, special education teacher, general education teacher who works with interpreters, audiologists or other school staff. This webinar will provide you with an outline of some problems students who are deaf and hard of hearing will experience, as well as some possible solutions about how to support students' success. Solutions continue to be explored and are evolving. All of the people you see in this webinar are either deaf or hard of hearing themselves and are sharing lived experiences.

[Onscreen there are five different videos streams participating. One is from teacher Ann Mayes. One is CDI Sarah Houge. The remaining three are students and young adults Paige, Kobe, and Luke. They take turns participating in the discussion. The captioning is onscreen.]

Ann>> What goes through your mind when you're thinking about returning to classes and starting classes in the fall and teachers and/or interpreters might be wearing masks?

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige (voicing)>> So I think it will be much more mentally exhausting to understand a teacher or interpreter their facial expressions or even just the spoken language without being able to see their facial expression or mouth to lip read and there will be a much greater, like, potential for the loss of information or misunderstanding, which will make testing harder and even just retaining information because you can get the same information four different ways and I don't know which one of them is right, which one's wrong. So you'll have to repeat the same stuff over and over, which will take much more mental exhaustion, even just physical exhaustion from you to try and repeatedly learn the same thing.

[Video switches to display all five participants.]

Ann>> If someone is wearing a mask, a face mask, and they're signing in ASL, what information is missing?

[Video switches to Kobe.  The following onscreen text is displayed, “Kobe Schroeder – Lakeville North High School Class of 2019”]

Kobe (signing)>> I guess what you're missing out of maybe is the facial expression and the mouth movements that you would use in ASL.

[Video switches to all five participants.]

Ann>> And then what challenges do you expect when you use interpreter services in classes in the fall, if you are going to be meeting in person?

[Video switches to Luke. The following text is briefly displayed onscreen, “Luke Stadelman – Lakeville North High School Class of 2019.”]

Luke (signing)>> I'm assuming that the interpreters probably won't wear masks. If they do, it will be hard.

[Video switches to all five participants.]

Ann>> How are you preparing yourself emotionally to return to in-person classes?

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige>> Well, for me, I personally think it will be -- because we have been out of the classroom for so long, it will be a little overwhelming feeling to be around that many people again for just that extended amount of time. But feeling just, like, anxiety and exhaustion and worry about getting the information and getting it right, remembering the wrong things or having misunderstanding. It can be awkward even before then to ask for so much repetition of the stuff to make sure that you get it right and, so, now maybe having to ask for even more, having to ask for it in a different way, like, preparing yourself for questions to ask right away if you don't get it. Like how am I going to ask them? Am I going to ask them to say it slower? Am I going to ask them to say different words? Am I going to ask them to write it down? Before I go to school, am I going to ask for an interpreter or captioning? Or am I going to talk to my teacher like a week before class that they're going to give me notes before class every day or find a friend in my class, buddy up with them, so they can give me notes after class? Just having, like, a mental game plan for how you're going to get the information that you either misunderstood or that you didn't get in the class.

[Video switches to Luke.]

Luke>> Just make sure that you feel confident and make sure that you're speaking very clearly.

[Video returns to all five participants.]

Ann>>do you wear a mask? And if you're wearing a mask and you have hearing aids or you have cochlear implant processors, do you find wearing a mask uncomfortable physically because of the processor or because of the hearing aid, especially if you imagine having to wear them all day?

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige>> I wear one hearing aid and one implant, and with the mask I have, it's just like a basic doctor's mask where it goes behind your ear. And I find with my implant that one doesn't bother me because there's nothing really sitting in front of it, you just have a hook. But with my hearing aid, it can get caught on the wire or it can start pushing it around which can make it whistle if it moves my earmold out a little, so you have to, like, either very carefully put on your mask after you put them on or you have to put on your mask and then put on your hearing aid and implant and then you just have to leave it, you can't move it, you can't really touch it. If it starts, like, bugging you behind your ear, you can't take it off because you're in public, but I guess the best thing would just be to make sure you have one that fits you. Don't have, like, a really tight mask because then it will pull on your ears more and that can mess with the fitting of your hearing aid or implant. My mom made ours, so mine, like, fits me. But if you go and buy one, I would probably say buy one that ties behind your head or have a bandana because then it won't move anything around and you'll still have access to language that you need.

[Video switches to all five participants.]

Ann>> I'm also thinking about, like, F.M. systems. Have you used an F.M. system with a mask before, Paige?

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige>> I never got to try it with my F.M. system. But when teachers wear it upside down so that the microphone is against their shirt or if they cover their mouth really quickly while they're talking, it can make it very muffled and then it's hard to understand. So I would imagine with a mask and an F.M. system, it would just sound the exact same as how I would get it, very muffled, very distorted. And you'd be better off having things written out for you or captioned or interpreted rather than hearing it through your hearing aid through your F.M. system.

[Video switches to all five participants.]

Ann>> What are some things that you would want a teacher of deaf/hard of hearing to tell your mainstream or your general education teachers to make things more smooth for you if you were a student going back to school in person?

[Video switches to Kobe.]

Kobe>> For me I would ask that the teacher inform the general ed teachers that, you know, making sure the videos are captioned. You know, they have to have a plan in the curriculum to make sure those videos are captioned and also how the videos are shown. You know, if the kids are wearing a mask or, you know, it's hard to understand the emotions within the environment too, that can be very stressful in the environment, if there's breakdowns or anything that that may be the reason why and hopefully you try to ask them to please, you know, set up some good environmental classrooms to help smooth out some of those frustrations. To help them understand a little bit better.

[Video switches to all five participants.]

Ann>>there's a lot of jargon and a lot of new vocabulary that you might encounter, so what are some things that teachers of deaf/hard of hearing might be thinking about to help make the vocabulary clearer for students in classes?

[Video switches to Kobe.]

Kobe>> In deaf/hard of hearing classrooms or maybe in the regular classrooms you can always have the notes on the board or the key words for the day written up on the board. Similar to like a syllabus, you know, if there's abbreviations there, definitions, examples on how to use that in a sentence, one way that you could give that information for some of the new vocabulary words that will be coming up in class.

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige>> I know for me, even though I had just like a slight hearing loss when I was younger with women, and I had mostly female teachers my whole life, it was hard to learn to read even when I could see her lips because they didn't want you looking at them, they wanted you looking at your book. So if they have a mask on and you're looking at your book, it's going to be even harder to understand them and hear what the words are, so having someone, like, a paraprofessional directly with them to follow along in the book with them to, like, point out the word that they're looking at or using more visual, like, picture cues with them. Like if you are learning how to write dog, having a picture of a dog, if you're learning how to write train, having a picture of a train. Finding ways to teach students without needing to understand how to read the words, having more of a visual access.

[Video switches to Luke.]

Luke>> I'm trying to remember from my past how I learned to read through the deaf teacher who was teaching me. A lot of it was one on one, so for people who are teaching in mainstream classes, I think -- I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that they maybe need to be learning the ABCs in ASL and being able to help assist with fingerspelling to make it clear.

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige>> For me, because they thought I just had  a hard time reading, I think no one really realized, like, why I couldn't understand or hear people. You were pointing to like a smaller group and you went to a different room to learn to read so it was less people and more one on one with the teacher even if it was just a few students. So maybe for everyone in the class, not even – the deaf/hard-of-hearing kids, especially if they're younger, you don't want them to feel singled out or like there's something wrong with them because there's nothing wrong with them. They're totally capable of everything. They just need to have the access to it. Putting people in smaller groups to learn the information, putting them in smaller groups to learn to read, having a more direct conversation with their teacher, having a paraprofessional go with them into that group to follow the words with them I think would be beneficial for them.

[Video returns to all five participants.]

Ann>> What are some recommendations that you have for those interpreters to make sure that their interpreting is clear and that it is accessible?

[Video switches to Luke.]

Luke>> I think, first of all, is, you know, speaking to the students that they're interpreting for. Because every one of the students is different with their preferences, obviously. And just making sure that all the things that they say in case they need to do lip reading also, just making sure you have a clear mask for that in that instance for the student.

[Video switches to Kobe.]

Kobe>> I would ask the students that they're being interpreted for if they prefer ASL or what their language preference is. If it's more of an ESL for English classes, you use that. If it's another method, use that.

[Video returns to all five participants.]

Ann>> What are some suggestions or ideas that you would recommend to teachers and schools? To prepare for the fall to make sure that students who are deaf or hard of hearing have access.

[Screen switches to Paige on the left side and CDI Sarah on the right side.]

Paige>> I would tell the teachers to use more gestures and body language, like pointing things out physically or writing them out, make sure there's captioning available for as many outlets as possible, whether it's a video, if you have someone come in for an interview or a discussion, and try and get an interpreter or captioning available for students so that they can have access to all language in the classroom.

[Video returns to all five participants.]

Ann>> So, I think we're going to wrap it up here, and I really appreciate all of the information that you've shared for teachers of deaf/hard of hearing and IEP managers, interpreters, transliterators, and even, you know, thinking about these things for real-time caption providers as well. And I'm hoping that they can look at this information and really kind of learn from you because you have lived experiences and help them prepare for better transition to in-person classes. So thank you for taking the time to meet with me.

[Closing slide with the following text, “Thank you to the following individuals who contributed their time, knowledge and skills to this webinar production:

“Emily Manson, Teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing – St. Paul Public Schools

“Ann Mayes, Independent Contractor – Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing

‘Anna Paulson, Director of Educational Advancement and Partnerships – Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing”]

[Second closing slide with the following text, “Thank you to the following people who shared their Lived Experiences as students who are deaf/hard of hearing:

“Paige Gerlach, 2020 graduate of Farmington High School, incoming freshman at St. Cloud State University. She is a student who experienced rapid progression of hearing loss starting in the fall of her sophomore year. Within three years, Paige progressed from hearing aids to cochlear implants. During the last three years of high school, Paige started using a hearing assistive technology system, closed captions, a buddy system and had services from a teacher of deaf/hard of hearing. In her junior year, she started learning American Sign Language in anticipation of becoming deaf.

“Kobe Schroeder, 2019 graduate of Lakeville North High School, current student and football player at Gallaudet University. Kobe was immersed in a bilingual program with cued American English and American Sign Language as the languages of instruction from preschool to graduation, including sign language interpreter and cued English transliterator services. In his senior year, he also had C-Print services for a few classes, including anatomy which sparked his interest in physiology. 

“Luke Stadelman, 2019 graduate of Lakeville North High School, current student at University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Luke attended the same program with Kobe and other students who are deaf/hard of hearing from preschool to graduation. During his junior and senior high school years, Luke completed several Advanced Placement classes with C-Print services, sign language interpreter services and closed captions. AP and honors classes prepared Luke for architectural studies in college.”]

[Third closing slide with the following text, “Thank you to the certified sign language interpreters, including a Certified Deaf Interpreter, for their services to provide access.

“Thank you to the communication access real-time (CART) provider for her service to provide access as well.”]

[Fourth and final slide with the following text, “Thank you to the following sponsors and contributors who provided funding and support:

“Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing

“Minnesota Low Incidence Projects” and the logos for both organizations.]

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