Defining Communication Access (D/HoH)

ASLFor students who cannot hear what is happening in the classroom it is important to provide meaningful access to what is happening in real time. Several options exist to meet this need:

  • ASL Interpreters (On-Site or Remote) 
  • TypeWell Transcribers (On-Site or Remote)
  • Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART)
  • Assistive Technology

Sometimes students request that an instructor or professor wear a wireless microphone to amplify the sound for an FM listening system. Other times a student may ask that an optical overhead be used so that documents being read out loud in the classroom can be simultaneously viewed on screen. If you have a student who experiences hearing loss in your class and you have questions please contact DSS at 786-4536 V/TTY.


ASL Interpreters

At Your Fingertips: Facts about Sign Language Interpreters

Everything that is spoken is interpreted; everything that is signed is spoken.

Multiple conversations cannot be interpreted; encourage one speaker at a time.

Interpreters need to hear what is said in order to translate it. Encourage students, when asking questions or providing comments, to speak clearly and audibly.

Interpreters are generally a few beats behind the speaker (they have to hear what is said before they can translate it). Therefore, when asking questions or calling for student participation, wait until the interpreter is done conveying that information before identifying a student speaker or response. This allows deaf students to offer their input as well.

Deaf students cannot watch the interpreter and review print materials as well. When distributing handouts or other materials, allow students a moment to review them before beginning your comments.

An interpreter is not a participant in the class.

Students using interpreters for classes sign an Interpreter Services Agreement form that outlines rights and responsibilities.


TypeWell Transcribers

Transcribers use laptop computers and sophisticated abbreviation software to provide realtime communication access for students who experience hearing loss. TypeWell and C-Print are the names of two different abbreviation software programs. They both require training and practice, but can enable a hearing typist to produce a transcript for a deaf or hard of hearing student.

Two laptop computers are linked with either a wireless connection or with a serial cable. The hearing transcriber can then use one of the laptops that is equipped with abbreviation software to transcribe what is being said in the classroom so the student with hearing loss can read it in realtime from the second laptop.

Information about TypeWell can be found online at

Students using TypeWell or C-Print for classes sign a Transcribing Services Agreement form that outlines rights and responsibilities.



Communications Access Realtime Translation (CART)

A CART provider (trained as a court reporter or stenographer) uses a stenotype machine with a phonetic keyboard and special software. A computer translates the phonetic symbols into English captions almost instantaneously. The slight delay is based on the captioner's need to hear the word and computer processing time. Students using CART for classes sign a CART Services Agreement form that outlines rights and responsibilities.


Assistive Technology

Handout listing several examples of communication access technology

Listening Devices

PockettalkerThe Pocketalker is a portable device that works by amplifying sound picked up through a microphone and sending it straight to earbuds.

FM Listening SystemAn FM Listening system is a portable wireless listening system. In an educational setting a professor may wear a microphone and transmitter that sends the professor’s voice to a receiver equipped with earphones or a neck loop that works with students’ hearing aids.
Text Based Devices
InterpretypeThe Interpretype (ITY) consists of a pre-programmed laptop style device which has the ability to send and display typed messages to other ITY devices or a computer. Individuals have the ability to conduct a conversation by simply reading and typing. It also gives users the ability to capture and print conversations if desired.
UbiDuoThe UbiDuo is a portable, wireless, battery-powered, stand-alone communication device that facilitates simultaneous face to face communication by means of two displays and two keyboards.