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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

Blackboard for Deaf StudentsDisability or Different Ability?

John Webber

eLearning Development Manager

Sussex Downs College, UK

disability or different ability
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
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
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
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
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
The syntax of BSL vs. English

With thanks to RNID

What is the time?

challenges for deaf students in a mainstream college
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
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
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
We planned a pilot development
  • And began work
  • Then we dropped everything

To focus on an urgent individual need

nicky a case study
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
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
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
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
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
Back to plan A

An online environment for all deaf students

access to core information
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
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
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
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
The end for now
  • Questions, suggestions, comments?
  • My email address:

[email protected]