“How to help students with a hearing impairment as courses move online - The Conversation Africa” plus 2 more

“How to help students with a hearing impairment as courses move online - The Conversation Africa” plus 2 more


How to help students with a hearing impairment as courses move online - The Conversation Africa

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 11:57 PM PDT

Schools, colleges and universities across the world have been closed as a result of COVID-19. But students are expected to continue their studies. As higher education institutions scramble to take their teaching online, lecturers require some help to make material accessible to all students.

Some students may have a hearing impairment and make use of technology such as hearing aids or cochlear implants. Even under the best circumstances, their accessibility needs are frequently unmet. In this COVID-19 pandemic, with little time to prepare, the focus is understandably on accommodating the majority of students, but this leaves many students further marginalised.

In the online environment, the challenges of the hearing impaired can be even greater. They might not be able to hear what the lecturer is saying (audio is distorted through technology). Other challenges include absence of closed captions or subtitles, not being able to quickly check with a peer what was said, and not having manual or electronic notes immediately available to them.

Precise statistics about the numbers of university students who have hearing loss aren't available. But what we do know is that these students often remain under supported, which can result in poor academic outcomes.

Moving conventional teaching and learning online typically means the use of video or audio (live or recorded), presentations, online discussion forums and virtual group projects as well as assessments. These present significant challenges for students with a hearing impairment.


Read more: Students with hearing loss get a raw deal: a South African case study


How the needs of all students can be met

Based on the work I have done in this area in South Africa, some ways that lecturers can improve online learning for students with a hearing impairment have been identified. The National Deaf Centre based at the University of Texas also provides some tips to make sure that everyone has access to the same course content, especially when it's delivered online.

  • Do a status check As a lecturer you may not be aware that you have a student with a hearing impairment in your class. Many do not disclose or request any special assistance. Inform all your students that moving to virtual classes is an opportunity to update you if they have any challenges in accessing the content through video or audio recordings.

  • Use captions Captioning is the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD, live event, or other production into text and displaying the text on a screen or monitor. Captions not only display words that are used in spoken dialogue or narration, they also include speaker identification, sound effects and music description. It is the most effective strategy to ensure access for students with a hearing loss.

Captioning is not only critical for students who are deaf/hearing impaired; it also aids the reading and literacy skills development of many others. Research shows that the use of video and audio captions benefits everyone.

An alternative to captioning is to provide subtitles: a text alternative for the dialogue of video footage. There are online tools to assist with this such as Kapwing. YouTube also allows one to add subtitles automatically.

Test your video conferencing platform Zoom, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting and similar platforms are often used by universities but their accessibility features vary widely and not all of them have features to assist hearing impaired users. Some platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, use automatic captions, but the accuracy is not 100%.

Filming for visibility Consider your clothing and lighting when producing a video. Video conferencing etiquette recommends that when you're being filmed you wear clothing that is not "busy" and provides good contrast with your skin, so that the student with a hearing loss is not distracted and can easily see your lips.
Make sure there's enough light in the room and that it's sufficiently diffused to reduce or eliminate shadows on faces, making it easier for students to lip-read. It's also important to keep the camera at an angle that gives lip-readers a good view of your face.

  • Set some ground rules Setting a few online class rules about communication will reap major benefits when using group communication platforms. Establish turn-taking and participation protocols, such as using the "raise hand" feature, the chatbox, or identifying your name before commenting. Ask students to turn on their video only when they want to ask a question, since limiting the number of participants on screen at the same time can improve video quality. The same goes for sound: tell students to stay in mute mode until they have something to say, to reduce background noise. These strategies allow students with hearing difficulties to focus on one speaker or interaction at a time.

  • Learn more about your learning management system Use the online tutorials provided by your service provider to learn more about its accessibility features. Ensure that course material (and glossaries) are provided in advance to students with a hearing impairment. Glossaries are extremely useful to explain terminology used in the online class.

  • As a presenter, slow down This helps all listeners to follow. Advise students who rely on assistive listening devices that they may need to connect their computer's audio directly to a personal device such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant processor, or to noise-reducing headphones.

Where possible, record live meetings and lectures in case there are issues with internet connections. Regularly contact your students to check whether they can access and understand the online content.

Work with the university's disability rights office to meet the accessibility needs of students. Use one-on-one video chats or text messages if the student needs additional support.

Premiere Stages at Kean Announces The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards - New Jersey Stage

Posted: 01 Apr 2020 07:42 AM PDT

originally published: 04/01/2020

Premiere Stages at Kean Announces The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards

(UNION, NJ) -- Premiere Stages, the professional theatre company in residence at Kean University, has announced a new initiative – The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards - a new playwriting competition for New Jersey based writers that offers cash awards and benefits in three categories. The project will be part of the 2020 Premiere Play Festival- Premiere Stages' acclaimed new play development program that provides readings, workshops and full productions to regional playwrights as part of each season.

The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards will offer unique opportunities to seniors in three categories:


  • The High School Senior Endeavor Award will provide $1000 to a rising senior who will be completing his/her/their junior year of high school in May or June of 2020. The winning student will also receive a professional reading of the play and a letter of recommendation that can be used to support Fall college applications.

  • The College Senior Endeavor Award will provide $1000 to a Kean University senior who is graduating from Kean in May of 2020. The winning college senior will also receive a professional reading of the play and will be extended the offer of a paid six-month internship in the Premiere Stages Literary Office.

  • The NJ Senior Endeavor Award will provide $1000 to a senior citizen who currently resides in a New Jersey residential community (Assisted Living or Independent Living). Premiere Stages will also provide a professional reading of the play and a fully sponsored Premiere Stages Legacy Residency for those seniors who also reside in the community where the winning writer lives (once CDC guidelines for social distancing have been fully lifted). Legacy Residencies are part of the Premiere Play Factory and provide opportunities for seniors to partner with professional playwrights to document, share and celebrate their legacies with their peers and families through a showcase of their work as performed by professional actors.

Accepted entries will be one-act plays between ten and sixty pages inspired by or in response to the challenges of COVID-19. Content can directly relate to issues surrounding the virus, or may be more abstractly related. Plays can be autobiographical or can be completely fictional; an application form will ask two simple questions about the author's experiences. Submissions are limited to writers in one of the above categories who reside in New Jersey.

Premiere will accept submissions June 1 through August 1, 2020, and the three winners will be selected by September 1, 2020; any submissions received before or after this submission window will not be considered. All three winners will receive developmental readings with a professional cast, director and dramaturg, between October 9-11, 2020 on the Kean University campus. An additional six playwrights (two in each category) will receive an honorable mention certificate and an honorarium of $100 each. The project will be sponsored through a sustained funding gift from longtime Premiere Stages donors W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher.

The Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards have been conceived by John J. Wooten, Producing Artistic Director and founder of Premiere Stages. "With every challenge comes opportunity", stated Wooten, "and in times like these, we have looked to our artists to help heal and re-inspire our communities. That is why we are committed to not only maintaining our commitment to writers during this crisis, but to increasing it."



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The Premiere Play Festival has received over 5,000 submissions and developed more than fifty plays since 2005. Multiple plays produced by Premiere have been honored by the American Theatre Critics Association, and/or have been published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, Dramatic Publishing Company, Playscripts, and Broadway Play Publishing. A number of Play Festival winners and finalists have subsequently been produced in New York and at regional theatres across the country. Premiere Stages plans to announce additional Festival events and the complete 2020 season in April.

All Premiere Senior Endeavor Awards entries will be evaluated by a panel of theatre professionals in consultation with Premiere's artistic and literary staff. There is no fee to enter the competition. Complete submission guidelines are available at http://www.premierestagesatkean.com/senior-endeavor-awards. Premiere Stages is committed to supporting a diverse group of writers; playwrights of all backgrounds and experience levels are encouraged to submit.


Premiere Stages offers affordable prices, air-conditioned facilities and free parking close to the theatre. Premiere Stages also provides free or discounted tickets to patrons with disabilities. All Premiere Stages facilities are fully accessible spaces, and companion seating is available for patrons with disabilities. Assistive listening devices and large print programs are available at all times; publications in alternate formats are available with advance notice. Sign-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances are available upon request; please call 908-737-4077 at least two weeks prior to your desired performance. For more information, please visit Premiere Stages online at www.premierestagesatkean.com.

Premiere Stages is made possible in part through funding from W. John Bauer and Nancy Boucher, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Northfield Bank Foundation, The Hyde and Watson Foundation, The Union Foundation, E.J. Grassmann Trust, The New Jersey Theatre Alliance, Investors Foundation, The Union County HEART Grant, Actors' Equity Foundation, and through the generous support of individual patrons and local organizations. Discover Jersey Arts is our marketing partner. Visit www.JerseyArts.com for more information about other arts programming happening around the Garden State. 

 Premiere Stages is committed to producing topical plays and interactive programs that reflect people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, religious groups, gender identities, ages, abilities, disabilities and sexual preferences.  

Smart Caption Glasses offer play transcript | | phillytrib.com - The Philadelphia Tribune

Posted: 11 Mar 2020 12:00 AM PDT

Smart Caption Glasses are available for the "Shakespeare in Love" production. They use a new voice-following algorithm developed by the National Theatre of Great Britain to display a synchronized transcript of the play's dialogue and sound directly onto the lenses. This service is free, but it is recommended that audience members reserve a pair in advance. The People's Light box office also has large-print programs, assistive listening devices and sensory supports (fidgets, noise-canceling headphones) available for audience members to borrow.

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