I thought I knew it all…
I made plans for moving nearer to the University and started doing some reading around the subject, but the thought of looking into what support I’d get as a hard-of-hearing student, or applying for DSA didn’t occur to me. I mean, as I’d already been through the DSA application process for my Bachelor’s degree, and having worked as a student ambassador for Skill, I thought I knew it all. I’d had support at school since secondary school, so I knew what I’d be getting when I stared my MA, right? Not quite…
Since secondary school, I’d received support in lessons and lectures in the form of note-takers. This enabled me to actually listen to a lesson as it happened, rather than worry about taking down notes and then be unable to concentrate on listening at the same time. It also meant if there was anything I didn’t hear, anything important would be written in the notes for me. This is what I’ve always had and this was exactly what I expected to get during my next degree.
I met with a Disability Support Advisor from the university before attending my DSA assessment. It was this Advisor who suggested the use of Remote Captioning instead of note-taking. I’d never heard of this before so I was definitely intrigued.
How and Why Remote Captioning works for me
I’ll explain a bit about how Remote Captioning works. I make a Skype call to one of Bee Communications’ (a supporter of this site) captioners, who has been pre-booked for the session. I then open up a webpage that has been specially created for my sessions, where the live text that the captioner is writing appears on the screen. There is of course some delay in the speech to the text time, but this is usually very minimal. A ‘chat’ function is also available, allowing me to let the captioners know if there is a break or for them to let me know if the sound quality is dropping.
Remote captioning solved all the problems I’d had with note-taking during my BA. My note-takers there were other students. The quality of the notes varied from person to person and sometimes it could take a long time for them to type up their notes and send them to me. It wasn’t all bad, I made friends with a few of them and there was one note-taker who was also taking that module herself, so she knew what was important to get down for me. I always wondered if she’d ever miss anything though, University can be competitive when you want to do the best!
Remote captioning also means I don’t need to read the notes after the lecture in order to ensure I heard everything, in fact now the only time I re-visit the notes made by the captioners is when I have an essay to write. Instead, Remote Captioning allows me to take my own notes if needed, without missing anything as I can read back on the screen anything I didn’t hear. I get to choose which information is important for me to remember, not someone else. My fellow students have all been positive about the service, and I’ve noticed sometimes those I’m sitting next to are peeking at my laptop screen too, evidently having been too busy day-dreaming to pay attention!
On my Placement
Now I’m on the ‘placement’ part of my course, I’m not using Remote Captioning. My work is mostly face to face with individuals and small group meetings, which I really enjoy. There’s a few people who tend to cover their mouths when they speak (why do people do this anyway?) so I have to let them know I have trouble understanding them like that. My hearing loss has not otherwise been an issue so far. However, without meaning to sound pessimistic, there are still people won’t understand, or at least the occasional shouter or over-pronouncer.
Arranging my placement came with issues, I was originally placed in an agency where I would be expected to work on a phone help-line some days. Given that my University knows about my hearing loss, and I specifically put on my placement application form that I would be unable to do such work I was pretty surprised by this, especially given the nature of the profession. After some discussion I asked to move to another agency where a hard of hearing student had been previously. The new agency has been great and very flexible in supporting me, but it’s still a shame I couldn’t continue with the first one because of the attitudes of staff there.
Despite that, I am really enjoying my time being a student again and excited that it will be leading me to a career where I can help people to recognise the skills and strengths that they already have, especially disabled people.
To find out more about Remote Captioning, go to: bee-communications.com
The Limping Chicken is the world's most popular Deaf blog, and is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
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