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What is communication access?

Communication Access facilitates communication for individuals who have speech, language, and hearing needs. Provision of services to meet these needs for equal access to communicated information is critical.

Student Disability Services coordinates equitable access for all students with communication access needs. The access provided should be both reasonable and meet the individual’s needs in terms of how they communicate. Communication Access may be provided through scheduled services, classroom adaptations and/or behaviors that ensure effective and equitable communication occurs.

Universal Communication Suggestions for ALL Courses / Events

  • If your classroom is equipped with Amplification Capabilities, always
    (i.e., Microphone or enhancement) use it for dialogue/speaking
  • Check with the class to make sure the volume is good or if it needs adjusting
  • Have students raise their hands before participating
    (this allows students to locate the person speaking)
  • Clearly repeat questions that are asked by students for it to be heard again.
  • IF masking, please wear clear masks, when speaking for lectures
  • Lecture/speak while facing the students and not with your back to the students
  • Always enable Closed Captioning for any videos or media being used within the course
  • Semi-circle style seating if capable to allow for ease of view of all possible speakers

If you have a student in your class who has communication access accommodations, they MAY include but are not limited to (CART, Transcription, American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting, Closed Captioning, Preferential Seating, Assistive Listening Devices, etc.)

Communication Access Course Checklist:

  • Communicate with the SDS Assistant Director of Communication Access or assigned SDS Staff about student communication access for the course (course specifics will be needed).

For Captioning (Media) Services

(Prior to class start date)

  • Provide course logistics and use of videos/digital media information to the SDS staff and any school specific Instructional Technologists (through email or by filling out survey sent by SDS Staff).
  • Enable course materials to be accessed through Canvas or another cloud-based system for ease of access of materials for SDS/ Instructional Technologists.
  • Course modules must be ready for captioning a minimum of 2 weeks in advance to allow time for processing and posting.
  • Ensure that all pre-recorded course materials are professionally captioned before sharing with ANY students in the course to ensure equal access.

(Throughout the course)

  • Never Identify to the class the student who is using the accommodation. Confidentiality must be respected to the greatest degree possible.
  • Encourage students to only post media/videos in discussion posts that have closed captioning capabilities.

For CART/Transcription/ ASL Services

(Prior to class start date)

  • Share regular Office Hour information, any special dates within the course, and any planned Holidays or class cancellations (this should include advance notice of an in-person course having a class meeting online, for example)
  •  Share any Zoom/class meeting links & passwords with the assigned SDS Staff member so they can be given to the service provider IF the course is Hybrid or online.
  • Remove JHU required authentication from meeting settings. (This allows service providers to access the meeting). For safety, please keep a password required to enter the meeting.
  • Provide course material access to SDS and the service provider to ensure effective communication and or Interpretation of information/content.
  • Provide specialized notation and a list of acronyms when material is very technical

(Throughout the course)

  •  Designate a seat/space for the CART/ASL Interpreter for in-person courses. The student may indicate where they prefer the ASL Interpreter to sit/stand for visibility.
  • Never Identif to the class the student who is using the accommodation. Confidentiality must be respected to the greatest degree possible.
  • Talk to and communicate directly with the student. The service provider will provide their service without direction (You do not need to say: “tell him/her etc.”).
  • Communicate class cancellation or schedule changes to the student and SDS staff as soon as they are known.
  • Communicate questions or concerns related to communication access or its’ services with SDS Staff in a timely manner.
  • Define acronyms when first used or re-introduced during lectures.
  • Remember services will be needed for open office hours or faculty/student individual meetings; please provide as much notice as possible to SDS so there is time to schedule providers.

Helpful Terms/Definitions:

  • Deaf – An all-inclusive term to include people who may identify as Deaf, deaf, deafblind, deaf disabled, hard-of-hearing or late deafened. (NDC
  • Hard of Hearing (HH) – total or significant loss of hearing. (May be a Deaf person who does not identify with the culture or use of ASL)
  • American Sign Language (ASL) – A visual language with its own grammar and syntax.
  • Captions / Closed Captions (CC) – Time-synchronized text that reflects the audio track of pre-recorded media content (i.e., videos, tv shows or movies etc.)
  • Transcription – The conversion of live speech into electronic text. (Can be viewed live electronically. A script may be provided at the conclusion of the live session through electronic or printed means – “transcript”.
  • Cued Speech – A communication system designed to represent phonemes of spoken language visually by using hand shapes in different positions near the mouth while speaking.
  • Signed English (SE) – A manual communication system combining English grammar and borrowed signs.
  • Pro Tactile Sign Language (PTASL) – A language used among deafblind individuals using tactile channels and various parts of the body to communicate.
  • Interpreter – A trained professional fluent in English and ASL, who adheres to the Code of Professional conduct as established by RID, and who can effectively facilitate communication between deaf and hearing persons.
  • NAD – National Association of the Deaf
  • RID – Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the organization responsible for certifying interpreters, monitoring adherence to the Code of Professional Conduct and certification maintenance requirements.
  • Specialty Interpreting Skills – These include skills such as oral interpreting (for deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals who lip-read), tactile sign language (for deafblind individuals who use “hand-over-hand” to understand ASL), PTASL, or cued speech. It may also include trilingual interpreting or interpreting a foreign language.