Transforming support for d/Deaf students

Innovations in technology and the vital role of skilled professionals

In May 2014, BRITE and Nated Scotland curated an international conference hosted at Edinburgh University, where 100 delegates came together to evaluate a range of cutting edge strategies to support d/Deaf students at college and university. Two key themes of the day were the potential of mobile and web-based technology to revolutionise the provision of communication services, and the vital importance of skilled professionals to manage and deliver support for students.

iPad photo_Edit The image shows a sign language interpreter at the University of Cincinnati communicate with a student. The student accesses live video of the interpreter on his iPad. He could be based elsewhere on campus, or even off-campus e.g. having an informal study session at a classmate’s home. This system provides students with a new level of flexibility in how they access communication services. Research into the implications of this mode of service delivery was the subject of our keynote presentation.

A summary of the presentations and key topics follows. To request a copy of the conference brochure, transcripts of the presentations, or copies of slides, please contact Kellie Mote at

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Ai-Media article on our recent conference

ai liveAt our recent conference on Supporting Deaf Students at College and University, we were delighted to welcome Denise Bob-Jones of Ai-Media to deliver a presentation in partnership with Strathclyde University on remote live captioning. Ai-Media’s remote live captioning service, Ai-Live, also generously provided captioning during the morning session of the conference. As well as providing access to the content of presentations for many delegates, it was valuable for everyone to see the service working in a real world context. Ai-Media has posted an article reflecting on the conference. Click here to read the Ai-Media article.

Deaf-initely Accessible? Exploring best practice working with and supporting deaf students

We’ve added a new workshop to the Investors in Inclusiveness conference programme. If you join us on 31st May, in addition to engaging key note speakers, a range of workshops, and the opportunity to network with key influencers and policy-shapers, you’ll also have the option to attend this workshop, scheduled just after lunch to run concurrently with our graduation ceremony.

Yvonne Waddell and Veronica Nelson of NATED Scotland will lead this 30 minute session, asking: Is your college providing the best service it could for the needs of deaf students? This interactive and informative session will cover deaf and communication support awareness, what good practice looks like in context, and how NATED Scotland can support, advise and work with your team to ensure you truly match the needs of your deaf students.

You will be able to sign up for this workshop on the day.

Click here for more details about the conference, and a link to the booking form.

Book review: Connecting to Learn

Kellie Mote finds sound practical tips for needs assessors and assistive technology practitioners in ‘Connecting to Learn: Educational and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities’ by Marcia J. Scherer (American Psychological Association, 2003)

At the core of Connecting to Learn is the importance of matching the right assistive technology with the learner. It isn’t immediately clear from the title, but the focus here is on the needs of students who are d/Deaf, or visually impaired. Initial chapters are therefore dedicated to providing background information on the needs of students with sensory disabilities.

The book primarily focuses on strategies to use with the individual – little of the content is dedicated to broader strategies such as creating more inclusive learning environments. However, many of the tips will be of use to practitioners providing assistive technology support in an educational context.

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Staff development news: Supporting Deaf Students

Do you support students who are D/deaf or have a hearing loss? Or perhaps you wish to build your skills to be better prepared to respond to the needs of future students? Some forthcoming staff development opportunites look at different aspects of creating an inclusive learning environment:

  • Modifying Written English Texts – Online, May to December 2011
  • Donaldson’s School Information Day – Linlithgow, 7th May 2011
  • Technology to Assist Students – Stirling, 16th May 2011
  • Voiceover techniques for CSWs – Glasgow, 20th May 2011

Read on for more information about each of these events…

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NATED is a network of professionals and students which provides an excellent way to share information and gain support when working with Deaf People.

Events are open to everyone with an interest and are valuable both to those new to this area of work, and to people with years of experience looking to enhance their practice. May sees both a UK conference in Durham and a meeting of the Scottish branch of NATED in Glasgow.

The NATED & ACSW Annual Conference and AGM 2011 is on Saturday 14th May at New College Durham. The fee to attend is £75 for members and £100 for non members. Speakers will address a variety of relevant topics including: training for interpreters and communication support workers;  notetaking; language modification; and mental health issues. Full details can be found on the NATED website.

The next NATED Scotland meeting is on Friday 20th May at City of Glasgow College.  The meeting will focus on voiceover training (i.e. where an interpreter voices in English what a Deaf student is signing). For futher details, visit the NATED Scotland site. Attendance is free, but please contact a member of the committee to let them know if you intend to go.

Courses to help you create inclusive environments for D/deaf students

We’ve received information about a range of courses which will build the skills of college staff to create an inclusive learning enviroment for students who are D/deaf, or who have a hearing loss.

Two forthcoming courses at Deaf Action in Edinburgh will address Deaf Awareness and How to Work with Interpreters. Full details can be found on the Deaf Action website.  Note that Deaf Action can also offer courses which are tailored to an organisation’s specific needs.

The Scottish Sensory Centre runs a range of courses. Some look at support for learners who are D/deaf, while others focus on support for learners who are blind or who have low vision. While the courses often address the needs of school age learners, some courses look at transition issues and forms of support that would also be relevant to post-16 education.

Improving the Listening Environment in Educational Settings in May 2010 may be of particular interest. BRITE team members previously attended a similar course (also featuring popular occasional BRITE guest presenter Richard Vaughan!) and found it to be a valuable introduction to the importance of ensuring good acoustics in a learning environment. Further details can be found by clicking on the link above.

Colleagues at Jewel and Esk College have also asked us to flag up their next Introduction to Sign Language course. It will take place at the Edinburgh Campus (24 Milton Road East, Edinburgh EH15 2PP) on Wednesdays 3 Feb – 16 June. The fee is £90 (eligible for ILA funding). To book please call 0131 344 7100 or go to

Learning Support Assistants working with Deaf young people in Schools and Colleges

The Scottish Sensory Centre is hosting this one-day training course in Edinburgh on Wednesday 9 December 2009. Aimed at Learning Support Assistants working in schools or colleges, the course will consist of basic deaf awareness training which will include:

  • How well do you hear? 
  • Noises in the classroom
  • Why do young Deaf people struggle with English language?
  • How do young Deaf people learn?
  • Discussion of different communication tactics
  • Audiology workshops focusing on linking radio aids to cochlear implants and hearing aids and making use of listening tests.

This day will also provide an opportunity to explore some of the issues involved in supporting deaf learners, e.g. promoting independent learning skills and working effectively with classroom teachers.

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New BSL & Deaf Awareness Courses at Deaf Action

Deaf Action have just launched their 2009/2010 training programme. Based in Edinburgh city centre, new intakes for courses in British Sign Language will begin in February 2010 and are offered at a range of levels and on a choice of days. One day Deaf Awareness courses are also scheduled for November 2009, and February and March 2010. Click here to download details of all courses and application forms.