The Catholic University of America

 How to Prepare for Having a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Student in Class

As with any student with a disability who is registered with DSS and requested accommodations for this semester, you should expect the student to provide you with a letter outlining the accommodations that he/she will be using this semester. The student should identify him/herself to you on or before the first day of class. We strongly encourage the student to meet with you privately to discuss their accommodations and to give you a letter from our office. Either one of you is welcome to contact us to arrange for an Interpreter or transcriber for that, or any other, meeting.  

Typically, students who use Interpreters will also require a notetaker so that they can focus their attention on the Interpreter and not miss anything that is being said. The student should also provide you with information on the notetaker process.  

Given the fact that we are coordinating multiple individual Interpreters and transcribers throughout the semester as they provide their services, sometimes issues arise that are unavoidable. DSS strives to ensure that Interpreter and transcriber services will be provided in a timely manner to all students who request them. In the event that there ever is a class when an Interpreter does not show up or there is a problem with the transcriber, we hope that the student will report the problem to DSS as soon as possible (preferably immediately after class or during class if there is a break) so that we are able to look into what happened and try to resolve the issue quickly. You, of course, are also welcome to let us know whenever you have any questions or concerns. Our primary goal is to make sure the student has equal access to the information through a qualified Interpreter or transcriber in every class.

If DSS is made aware of a potential problem, we will notify the student by email as soon as we receive the information. We will work with them to try and find a possible alternate solution to ensure that they have access to the information. In some cases, this may mean that the student will not be able to participate in class discussion if an interpreter is not present but transcribing has been provided. The student may also ask you for class notes from that day or to meet and go over information that he/she missed. We ask that you understand that in many cases these problems are not the student’s fault. If you feel that the student is not meeting his/her responsibilities regarding accommodations, please contact us to discuss the issue at hand.

On our website, we have two brochures that will hopefully provide you with valuable information in working with the Interpreters and transcribers. These brochures will also be attached to the Accommodation Letter that you will receive from the student.

Information to Share with the Interpreter or Transcriber

We know that what you have to share is valuable. You can assist the transcriber and the Interpreter by providing the syllabus, PowerPoint presentations and any other materials as soon as they are developed. This will assist the Interpreters and transcribers in preparing for the class, so they are able to provide the most accurate meaning of the class to the student.


It would be helpful if you could work with CPIT to add the Interpreter and/or the transcriber to any additional e-mail class distributions and Blackboard groups in order to ensure that they have access to the same materials as the student they are assisting. DSS is happy to work with you and CPIT to accomplish this. Any material distributed is destroyed at the end of the semester. You may send any of these materials to the DSS office and we will get them to the appropriate person or for a transcriber. Or you can send them directly to ACS at: . The individual Interpreters and/or transcribers may also contact you directly to introduce themselves and request this information. Please provide the materials in whichever way is more convenient for you.

Transcribing information

Our transcription service is provided remotely through Alternative Communication Services, Inc. (ACS). Because this service is done over the internet, there will not be a live person in the room. I wanted to share just a few brief comments so you will know what to expect.

The service is performed by a highly-skilled transcriber who listens from a remote location to what you say, transcribes the information verbatim, and provides the text on the computer screen via the Internet for the student to read. In order for the transcriber to provide the transcription in real-time, there are typically a few errors in the transcript provided during class. The student will receive an edited version of the transcript within 24 hours of each class in which these errors will be corrected.

To provide the service remotely, the student will typically ask that you wear a lavaliere microphone so that the transcriber can hear you clearly. Depending on the nature of the class, the student may also have a table microphone. It is the student’s responsibility to bring all of the necessary equipment to class and set it up. The student, together with DSS, will take care of any necessary connections to make this happen. The student will hand you the microphone before class and then collect it from you at the end of the class.

You can help ensure that the transcriber is able to hear the class discussion by reminding students to speak clearly and with good volume. If you are having trouble understanding something, be assured that the person on the other end of the microphone is probably having a hard time too.

We respect the integrity of the educational process and do our best to never interfere with that. Occasionally, an internet interruption may occur and the student may need to "reconnect" the computer. If you see this action, you need not do anything, just be aware that if the student is typing to us to communicate, it is necessary and will be kept to the absolute minimum.


In Class Audio/Video

If you plan to show any films/videos in the class, if possible, choose ones that have closed captioning. For the Deaf and hard-of-hearing students, captioning is easier to watch (read) than watching an Interpreter or transcriber during a film. However, if the film is not captioned, it may be possible to obtain a copy of the script when ordering or requesting the film/video from the distributor. DSS recommends that you let the student know in advance of the viewing and see what they prefer. If necessary, DSS would be happy to work with you to create a transcript of the film. However, we will need the film/video at least 10 business days prior to the date the film/video is needed for class.

You are welcome to contact us at any time if you have further questions, comments or concerns. We are always happy to help.