Blackboard for deaf students disability or different ability
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Blackboard for Deaf Students Disability or Different Ability?. John Webber eLearning Development Manager Sussex Downs College, UK. Disability or different ability?. Disability presents a challenge Many disabled people respond powerfully New abilities are created in response

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Blackboard for Deaf Students Disability or Different Ability?

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Blackboard for Deaf StudentsDisability or Different Ability?

John Webber

eLearning Development Manager

Sussex Downs College, UK

Disability or different ability?

  • Disability presents a challenge

  • Many disabled people respond powerfully

  • New abilities are created in response

    • Try walking with a blind person in the dark!

  • Deaf people are striking examples

    • Sign language and lip reading

    • Working with them opens up our own thinking

    • Especially about language and communication

Creative responses to disability

  • The project is a first attempt within the college to innovate in this way

  • It may be we can generalise from it

  • Interested to hear of other approaches

  • Relating to any disability

  • Especially within Blackboard

Background to this project

  • Recent research by LSC reveals Deaf people (90%+) especially eager to learn

  • Many want to learn at mainstream colleges

  • New Disability Discrimination Act (DDA)

    • “Towards Inclusion” DfEE 2001

  • Requires Universities & Colleges in the UK to:

    “make reasonable adjustments to ensure that people who are disabled are not put at a substantial disadvantage to people who are not disabled in accessing education”

The College

  • Large mainstream college with small minority of deaf students who depend on BSL

  • Existing support

    • Limited to class times

  • Emerging technologies in the college

    • Blackboard

    • Online video

  • We aspire to use these to benefit disabled users and thus contribute to inclusiveness

The many kinds of deafness

  • Degree

  • Age of onset

  • Oralism vs. signing (and combinations)

  • Potential impact on literacy (quote research)

  • Impact on background knowledge

  • A challenge, with communication at it’s heart

The syntax of BSL vs. English

With thanks to RNID

What is the time?

Challenges for deaf students in a “mainstream” college

  • Isolation

  • Difficulties accessing standard services and information

  • Dependency on Communication Support Worker (CSW)

  • Potentially diminishes both self-esteem and self-confidence

How Blackboard can make things worse

  • Lecturers naive assumption (mine too) that it helps to put notes online

  • Sign language users and text resources

  • New UK Law (DDA part 4) says we must address this

  • The defensive and the proactive response

Turning this around: Blackboard can help

  • To provide alternatives to text

    • To provide general info for deaf students

    • To support individual study

      But beyond that we hoped to use it to:

    • Nurture the sense of community

    • Communicate a sense of recognition and belonging

    • Raise the profile of deaf students in college

      and the awareness of deaf needs

With thanks to RNID

We planned a pilot development

  • And began work

  • Then we dropped everything

To focus on an urgent individual need

Nicky - A case study

  • Intelligent, motivated

  • But…

    • Profoundly deaf

    • Limited conventional literacy

    • Low level of confidence and organisation

    • Dependent on presence of signer for almost all study

  • Hence limited achievements

    • Under-achieving?

Nicky’s final exam preparation

  • Had passed previous modules but not with much margin

  • Anxious with approach of final, deciding, exam

  • Parents sent him away for 3 weeks

  • Return at start of Easter holidays

  • Exam early next term

  • Asked for help with independent study

Our response

  • Revision resource with BSL and subtitles

  • On Blackboard for access at college

  • On CD (video-rich) for home study

  • Demonstration:

    Health and Social Care Revision

  • To see a demonstration of the video-rich resource, contact:

    [email protected]

Observations from this pilot

  • Immediately obvious: Nicky’s delight

    But we also soon recognised…

  • His increased self-esteem

  • Increased engagement and status with hearing peers

  • Increased confidence and independence in approach to study

  • Dramatic improvement in his results

Why this impact?

  • A sense of being valued?

    • Increased morale and commitment

  • Structure to study materials?

    • Contrast with relay from interpreter

  • Enabled to study independently?

    • Increased confidence

  • The power of repetition in learning?

    • At last able to review work without CSW

  • An encouraging start

Back to plan A

An online environment for all deaf students

Access to Core Information

  • Normally provided by

    • Printed and online text

    • Or word of mouth

  • Deaf students often excluded

  • Using Blackboard to address this

  • Demonstration: Blackboard for Deaf

  • To see a demonstration of this resource, contact:

    [email protected]

Giving a Voice to Deaf Students?

  • Handing over some dev to deaf student with media skills

  • Inviting input on design from other deaf students

  • Online forums for deaf students

  • Personal areas?

    • web pages with video

  • Webcams for 2 way comms?

Steps to Raising Awareness

  • Opening up area to all students

  • Presenting information about the nature of deafness

  • Experimenting with ways of communicating this

  • Demos:

    The challenge for lip readers: IThe challenge for lip readers: II

  • Aim to broaden programme to other disabilities

How we have gained

  • Stimulated to think and to innovate in our communication

  • Created an efficient process for online video development and delivery

  • Learnt we can draw disabled users into the heart of the process

  • Learnt to see the “different ability” in “disability”

The end for now

  • Questions, suggestions, comments?

  • My email address:

    [email protected]

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