So you’ve graduated high school and are ready to start the next chapter of your life at university. As a deaf student, As a deaf student starting university, you may face some unique challenges, like:
- Communication Barriers: Dealing with communication barriers is one of the biggest difficulties deaf students encounter. It can be hard to follow lectures and participate in discussions.
- Feeling Isolated: It’s easy to feel isolated or left out when you can’t fully participate in conversations and social interactions.
However, With some preparation and the right mindset, your university experience can be enriching. Here are five essential tips to help you make your university experience worthwhile
Technology has come a long way in helping deaf students thrive at university. Here are some tips to use to your advantage:
- Use videophones, video relay services, or video chat apps like FaceTime to call home. Seeing your family and friends face-to-face can help combat isolation or homesickness.
- For essential calls to university faculty or staff, request a video interpreter to join the call. This allows for clear communication and the opportunity to speech-read or see visual aids the other party may share.
- Take advantage of smartphone apps that provide real-time speech-to-text transcription. Use it in lectures, meetings, or group discussions to follow along.
- Look into assistive devices like smart pens that can record audio and sync it with your written notes. Some can even translate speech into text.
- Don’t forget the basics, like setting visual alerts for reminders, alarms, and notifications on your devices.
With access to the right apps, devices, and websites that provide transcription services like Taurho Transcribes, you can focus on your studies rather than struggling to keep up. To learn more, visit: https://www.taurho-transcribes.co.uk/.
Once you’ve been accepted to a university, contact them about accommodations for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Many offer services like:
- Note-taking: Ask if they provide notetakers for your classes. These students will share detailed notes with you after each lecture.
- Sign language interpreters: See if interpreters who translate spoken English into ASL or another sign language are available for your classes and campus events.
- Real-time captioning: Some schools offer technology that provides live transcription of speech into text that you can read on a screen. This can be extremely helpful, especially for fast-talking professors!
- Tutoring: Don’t hesitate to ask about tutoring options, especially for challenging courses. One-on-one or small group tutoring with tutors fluent in ASL or your sign language can make a big difference.
Once you start classes, don’t hesitate to approach your professors and tell them you may need additional support. Most want you to succeed and will be happy to make accommodations like sharing lecture notes in advance, using a microphone, or improving captioning services.
Once you get to campus, seek out the deaf community right away. Connecting with other deaf students is critical to thriving at university.
- Joining a Deaf Student Association is to find your tribe. You’ll make friends, learn about resources on campus, and have a built-in support group.
- Attend their events and meetings to start putting names to faces.
- Don’t be shy – introduce yourself to others and start conversations. You’re all in the same boat, so bonding over shared experiences comes naturally.
- Ask around to find the unofficial deaf hangouts and make a point of frequenting them. Strike up conversations with people you see regularly.
- Look for opportunities to interact outside of deaf-focused groups as well. While connecting to the deaf community is essential, you want a balanced university experience.
As a deaf student, speaking up for yourself and your needs is key. Don’t be afraid to tell your professors how they can best support you.
Educate them on things like:
- Your preferred method of communication (e.g., sign language interpreter, live captioning)
- Any assistive technologies you use (e.g., FM system)
- How they can make their lectures and course materials more accessible (e.g., sharing PowerPoints ahead of class, recording lectures)
Ask questions if anything is unclear. Your success depends on understanding course material and assignments, so ensure you have all the necessary information. Don’t hesitate to follow up with your professors or teaching assistants.
You have rights and accommodations available but must take the initiative to request them. Do research on resources offered by your school’s disability or accessibility department. They can help set you up with services like notetakers, tutors, and counseling.
As a deaf student starting university, take advantage of all the support services offered on campus. These resources are there to help you succeed.
- Visit your school’s disability services office as soon as you enroll. They can help arrange accommodations like notetakers, interpreters, and assistive technologies.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Tutoring and writing centers provide extra academic support. You can also ask your professors or teaching assistants to provide notes or meet to discuss topics you may have missed.
- Counseling and health services offer additional resources for your well-being. Speaking with a counselor or therapist can help you deal with challenges and find strategies for success.
- Career counseling services help guide you to explore majors and job opportunities. They can point you to internships and work experiences tailored to your needs and interests.
- Look for deaf and hard-of-hearing communities on campus. Connecting with other DHH students is a great way to share experiences and advice and make new friends.
- Keep your lines of communication open. Talk regularly with your interpreters, notetakers, tutors, professors, and advisors. Let them know if there are any issues so you can work together to resolve them.
The resources are there for you, so take full advantage of them. University can be an exciting new chapter, especially with help from those around you.
University will open you up to many new opportunities and experiences. While it may seem overwhelming or intimidating at first, remember that you have an entire support system around you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, get involved, put yourself out there, and enjoy this new chapter of your life. You’ve got this! With the right mindset and by utilizing all the resources available to you, the university can be an exciting adventure.