Did you know that Griffith has had a Deaf Student Support Program for 30 years?

To mark the occasion of the anniversary an interactive workshop [8000 words – 50 minutes- 2 deaf ears] was organised by Disability Services. Current and former Griffith staff and students, as well as interested community members, were invited to attend the sessions that focused on communicating effectively with deaf and hard of hearing students in both the face-to-face and online learning environments.

Dr Breda Carty, Lecturer in Special Education at the Renwick Centre of the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children, spoke about the needs of these students in the university environment including:

  • Assistance with self-advocacy
  • Support to develop social skills and networks and to become active, independent and critical learners
  • An awareness of the benefits, limitations and ‘costs’ of various access provisions

One method that is relied on to enable students’ access to learning materials is the use of captioning. The way in which appropriate resources enhance the students’ learning experience was aptly demonstrated during a short activity which involved watching a video clip without any captioning and then one where the captioning was incorrect. Discussion ensued around the use of auto captioning on YouTube and was insightful as the limitations of its accuracy were highlighted. However, educational designers explained how the captioning tool can be used manually to create accurate captions on video clips, especially as it does the timing very well. Captioning is a useful tool not only for deaf and hard of hearing students, but those who have other disabilities including auditory processing difficulties, and students for whom English is not their first language. In fact, 80% of people who choose to use captions do not have a hearing impairment.

Mr Alex Varley, CEO, Media Access Australia emphasised the need to think beyond the classroom. He noted that accessible resources are required both pre and post enrolment because ‘the disability experience starts the day that these students think about coming to university’. He also discussed the practical training and advice that is available to ensure accessibility across all digital platforms.

During the workshop introduction, we were reminded of the focus that Griffith places on supporting students with disabilities. Importantly, this focus is not driven by compliance and legislative requirements but by a commitment to enhance the quality of the learning experience for all Griffith University students. This is achieved through the efforts of all staff and students.

Information Services (INS) offers a range of support for students with disabilities. You can find out more here. Through its Library and Learning Services (LLS) portfolio, INS also offers other services including academic skills support, high level research support, ICT literacy assistance, and help with research and referencing.