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Information for General Ed 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. General Education 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>> All students are facing new challenges and new opportunities during this time of COVID-19. These challenges are challenging as we navigate going back to schools. This webinar has been developed to provide guidance to schools about accessibility for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. The webinars are developed from the students' perspectives. You may be a general education teacher, a principal, special education teacher, 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 suggestions 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. Most students who are deaf and hard of hearing and in local districts rely on speechreading and/or facial expressions to understand what is being spoken. Masks cover up lips and limit facial expressions. As a result, speech becomes muffled and distorted by using masks. Students who are deaf and hard of hearing already have challenges to understand speech. Masks make it very difficult, if not impossible, to understand speech.

[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>> Please share your experience understanding people speaking when they're wearing masks.

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

Paige (voicing)>> For me, it's hard to access spoken language, like, of any sort because I mainly use my voice when talking to people because so much of your facial expression is covered up, but I have to ask people to gesture a lot more. I have to have them point things out or write things down for me. So it's impossible to read their lips and understand what they're saying. So you have to, like, use other forms of communication instead.

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

Kobe (signing)>> I guess my view with the struggle of the masks, the people who are speaking, using those masks, it's hard to understand them because the voice is a little garbled. So you're not able to understand them as clear as you would if they were not wearing those masks. So it's not the same, wearing a mask and not wearing a mask.

[Screen returns to all five participants.]

Ann>> You've shared about what some of the challenges are when people are wearing masks. But now could you talk about how you feel, how you have felt or how are you feeling when you approach someone and they're wearing a mask.

[Screen switches to Luke along with the following text, “Luke Stadelman – Lakeville North High School Class of 2019.”]

Luke (signing)>> I guess I really feel left out. It really makes me feel lonely, sad, and I almost feel like people don't enjoy me.

[Screen returns to all five participants.]

Ann>> I can understand that. Paige or Kobe, would you like to add anything to that?

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

Paige>> So lip reading can take a lot out of you already but when you're trying to understand already, and you can only clearly understand 30 to 40% of it without even knowing if what you heard was right because you're not lip reading it, it can feel very, like, stressful or anxious and even more exhausting than lip reading was already.

[Screen switches to Kobe.]

Kobe>> I share the sentiments on how they feel there, and also, you know, adding that mask, it's just harder to tell the emotions of the face, the facial expressions, you're missing most of those. So it's hard to gauge that. You know, but I hear the words but I don't exactly know the tone of the words that are being said.

Screen switches 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.

[Screen returns to all five participants.]

Ann>> What about some thoughts for younger kids, do you have any ideas about younger kids who might not necessarily be reading very well yet? Any thoughts on that?

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

Paige>> I think you could have almost like a teacher's aide or like a personal helper for them to, like, point things out on their paper with them, if they're allowed to be within that much distance or even just having the teacher, like, up in front if you're working on a worksheet, put the worksheet -- like expand it on the screen and write it on the screen with them or point it out on the screen with them, make things very visually accessible to them.

[Screen switches to Luke.]

Luke>> Maybe for young deaf people, paying attention, maybe, you know, something like tapping on the table, they would feel the vibration, they would know to look, using a little bit more of them, touching them on the shoulder. That's probably not a good idea. And waving sometimes is difficult because deaf people don't happen to be looking in that direction, they'll miss that. But if you really need them to pay attention, you know, that waving might not be the best method to get their attention.

[Screen returns to all five meeting participants.]

Ann>> what would it be like when you go back to school and your peers are wearing masks, are there any kind of concerns that you would have?

[Screen switches to Kobe.]

Kobe>> There was some accessibility there in high school, but with a mask, it would be a lot harder, a greater challenge. Especially now with the social distancing and needing to be six feet away.

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

Paige>> Well, if we're separated by distance, you can't necessarily have, like, a quiet, short conversation to get that information, but it's harder to understand others when they're further away because the distance makes the speech harder to travel and understood and lip reading will obviously become harder if they're wearing a mask or even if they're further because the further away you are, the more words look similar to each other. I guess I would have to ask the person next to me -- I'd have to make an agreement with them before class started that, like, if I wave at them or if I tap on their desk, and I show them, like, my iPad, because that's what we use for school, that they would have to show me their iPad and physically show me what it is that they're doing, physically show me where it is that I'm looking at. Or I'd have to call over the teacher more instead of asking the person next to me or have someone with me in every class to show me what it is that we're doing if I don't get the instructions or have it written out for me so I can read it.

[Screen returns to Kobe.]

Kobe>> I think it's a very good idea to have the notes before the lecture. You know, if the teacher's going to be presenting or anything, if they could give those notes before class and then it would be better to follow along with the class as it's going.

[Screen switches to Luke.]

Luke>> I agree with Kobe. Yeah. It's just working together with the PowerPoint, with the teachers presenting in class. And just making sure that the teacher's giving that information prior. Maybe emailing the PowerPoint before class. And that way the student is aware of what's going to be going on or what they're going to be talking about in class.

[Screen returns to all five meeting participants.]

Ann>> Are there any ideas that you might have as far as what teachers can do to help reduce some of that social isolation.

[Screen switches to Kobe.]

Kobe>> One thing that always helps is setting up a text together or a group text, so if there's any plans or anything, you can also plan a Zoom meeting or there's a lot of ideas to play with, you know, on a group text. You know, there's tournaments online. You can do that social distancing but be together at the same time.

[Screen switches to Luke.]

Luke>> I was thinking, you know, maybe games or apps would work the same too. You know, games, you have connections to other people that are near you that you could play games with, you know, in case you don't really want to chat with them or anything, but you want to more or less play, you know, be included, you can play games, you know, maybe it's kickball online or something.

[Screen returns to all five meeting participants.]

Ann>> So I want to thank you all for sharing your thoughts and feelings and ideas so that general education and special education teachers, IEP managers, administrators, and support staff can learn from you and prepare for a better transition for in-person classes. So thank you very much for that.

[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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