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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DART2 Workshop 1: Assessment for Assistive Technology

Thanks to Margaret McKay, Inclusion Advisor at Jisc RSC Scotland, for this report on what happened at the first DART2 workshop in Scotland on February 7th 2013 at the College Development Network, which looked at assessment for assistive technology.


Selection of hardware at the Dart2 workshopThe first sessions were presented by Rohan Slaughter (Head of Technology at Beaumont College) and Mike Thrussell (Assistive Technology Coordinator at Henshaws College).

They spoke about the importance of assessment, highlighting the skills and knowledge required by assessors and the importance of working in partnership with other stakeholders (the learner, family, carers, health professionals and relevant others).

Margaret McKay of Jisc RSC Scotland highlighted theoretical perspectives that underpin the assessment process, and the importance of placing the student at the centre of the process in order to find the best fit between the learner and their environment.

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(Semi) Automatic Captioning Using YouTube

Automatic captioning (also known a sub-titling) of videos to make them accessible to Deaf or hearing impaired viewers – sounds great doesn’t it? Google has recently introduced a system on YouTube which claims to auto-caption any English speech using in-built speech recognition.

Captioning a video can be a long and expensive process, so an automatic method should ensure more videos can be captioned. One of BRITE’s assistive technologists, Fil McIntyre, reports his findings and provides tips to get started with captioning…

I tested a few videos but found the results were far from satisfactory and could not be relied upon for giving an accurate transcript of the speech.  It seems that unless the speaker has very clear and precise speech (Barrack Obama is a good example) the auto captioning is inaccurate.  Any background noise can also affect the accuracy. But all is not lost!  There is a semi-automatic method to caption videos.

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